Overview

AMIGOS in an international nonprofit, founded in 1965, that inspires and builds young leaders through collaborative community development and immersion in cross-cultural experiences. AMIGOS believes that young people have the power to be catalysts for social change. Discover what is possible!

  • Our cultural exchange programs in 10 countries are designed for youth in both the United States and Latin America, meaning YOU, create incredible life-long friendships!
  • Not only does AMIGOS have 11 amazing project locations to chose from for 4, 6, or 8 weeks of your summer, but we also have an incredible Gap semester or year long opportunity in Leon, Nicaragua. 
  • Our program participants live with host families and collorate with their peers and community leaders to design and lead community development projects. 
  • AMIGOS training prepares young people to manage projects, solve problems, do community organizing, and work cross culturally - critical 21st century skills for future education and jobs. 
  • Our program participants become more mature, confident and gain a higher level of social and global awareness. Not to mention improve their Spanish skills ten fold! 

My daughter learned so much through this experience about other cultures and about who she is and what her strengths are.  She really stretched herself in many ways and figured out what priorities she really wants to focus on in life.  Anytime she talks about this experience, she just starts to beam with joy and self-confidence.  I am so grateful for Amigos.” - Summer 2014 parent

Our 2016 Program Offerings Include

For High School and College Students:

  • Perez Zeldon, Costa Rica
  • San Juan, Dominican Republic
  • Cotopaxi, Ecuador
  • Oaxaca, Mexico
  • Madriz, Nicaragua
  • Matagalpa, Nicaragua
  • Azuero, Panama
  • Cocle, Panama
  • Paraguari, Paraguay

College Programs:

  • Barranquilla, Colombia
  • Cotopaxi, Ecuador
  • Oaxaca, Mexico

Related Listings

Amigos de las Americas Gap Program in Nicaragua!

Latin America  -   Gap Year Program
Amigos de las Americas (AMIGOS) is a leader in international youth development, supporting young people across the Americas in leadership training and collaborative community development ... (more)
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9 Participant Reviews

Write a Review
Transformational summer in Mexico

Transformational summer in Mexico

5
Reviewed on 5/16/2017 by

I was a participant in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2014. I knew very little Spanish when I arrived. Despite my language shortcomings, my host family remained patient with me. We learned to communicate through playing cards, doing magic tricks, and other fun bonding experiences. My Spanish improved over time and by the end of the summer I could even make jokes in Spanish! I have worked with several volunteer abroad organizations, and Amigos by far has the best safety element. There is an on-call emergency response team available 24/7 a supervisor that spends 24 hours in your community every week and escorts you to the clinic when you're sick, a list of behavioral standards to abide by with your safety in mind (no riding motorcycles, or other dangerous behavior). One thing that really makes Amigos stand out compared to other volunteer organizations, is the rigorous training that participants go through before departing for their summer. You build skills such as how to facilitate activities and how to hold community meetings, so that you can be useful in supporting the community once you arrive. Amigos was my first time using my Spanish and my first time out of the U.S. Needless to say, I was scared. However, by being bold and getting out of my comfort zone, I realized that I am capable of doing anything. By intentionally pushing my personal boundaries to pursue relationships with people, I realized that they are neither as scary nor judgmental as I had worried. While they did chuckle at my alien accent, I learned to accept their reactions as opportunities to laugh at myself and as indicators for where I can work on self-improvement. In addition, I became more welcoming of others who differ from me. After being trusted to lead a development project in a foreign country in a foreign tongue, I really do feel like I can do anything.

Response from Explore Latin America with Amigos de las Americas:

Hello Jessica. Wow, it is incredible to see the transformation that one summer can have. Thank you for sharing your experience living in an area where you worked to speak a new language. It sounds like you really grew during your time in Latin America.

A great program for great people.

A great program for great people.

5
Reviewed on 3/29/2017 by

Amigos de las Americas is a very unique experience, to say the least. I chose to participate in this program and continue to love it for the depth of cultural immersion which it provides, which I have never seen rivaled by any other program. The program places you in a small community in Latin America with a host family where you, officially, are there to realize a community development project and host after-school activities with the community's children. However, unofficially, you also dedicate yourself to the project of observing, learning from, misunderstanding, occasionally being confused and frustrated by, and finally appreciating another culture, as well as improving your communicative Spanish, and developing personal friendships (which is perhaps the most noble cause of all). The experience is versatile and can be drastically impacted by the nature of your host-country, host-community, and host-family. All of this culminates in an extremely unique experience. As a participant I was guided all the way by a wonderful supervisor, who provided me with excellent one-on-one mentorship. Personally, I returned to my original host-community, where I lived for several years. Whatever motivates you to do this program, it will certainly provide you with the rich simulation that a developing mind needs. It opened a new chapter in my life and gave me the opportunity I needed to change into a better person. It takes a lot of bravery to sign up for this program, but I highly recommend it.

Response from Explore Latin America with Amigos de las Americas:

Thomas, thank you for sharing your experience. You are so right about working through language miscommunication. It is all part of the process and really builds confidence and adaptability. We are glad to hear the community had such an impact that you were able to return.

Take charge of your summer (and your life!)

Take charge of your summer (and your life!)

5
Reviewed on 3/24/2017 by

I was a volunteer in the summer of 2013 in Azuay, Ecuador, where I lived in an Indigenous community high up in the Andes. My community was a bit different from neighboring Mestizo communities, which allowed me and my partners to immerse ourselves in a culture that not many outsiders get to experience. We completed a CBI (Community Based Initiative) project in collaboration with community members, and also facilitated workshops with kids in the community which was a lot of fun. My time with AMIGOS drastically improved my Spanish as well as my leadership skills such as fundraising, organization, and facilitation. I attribute my success in college to AMIGOS, and I feel like I am a very independent and goal-oriented person today because of my volunteer experience. AMIGOS is such an incredible organization because of the amount of freedom it gives high school students and its incredible support network in the US and Latin America. I cannot say enough good things about this organization, and I owe much of the person I am today to my volunteer experience and am forever grateful to AMIGOS for allowing me to take charge of my own life!

Response from Explore Latin America with Amigos de las Americas:

Hello Ben. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience. We are so happy to hear about the amazing skills you were able to develop in country and take with you through college.

Transformative Experience

Transformative Experience

5
Reviewed on 3/23/2017 by

I volunteered with AMIGOS the summer of 2013 in Madriz, Nicaragua and it was truly one of the most rewarding and formative experiences I have had. Volunteering with AMIGOS had such a positive impact on me that I have since volunteered with my local chapter of AMIGOS as a trainer and this summer I am going to be a Project Supervisor for the project in Yucatan, Mexico. AMIGOS sets itself apart from other similar organizations in that it truly engages the people in the communities involved so that they have leadership over the projects happening within their communities. Also from the viewpoint of the volunteer, AMIGOS provides an amazing community and support system and at the same time allows each volunteer to have a great deal of independence while they are in community. Volunteers are placed in communities with one or two partner volunteers and asked to collaborate with the community to plan and complete a project (that could be anything from a trash disposal system to community gardens) and teach after school camps with the children in the community. There are not many programs that allow for the level of true emersion into another culture that AMIGOS provides. AMIGOS is an organization that leaves both host community and volunteer feeling like they have gained something valuable from the experience.

Response from Explore Latin America with Amigos de las Americas:

Hello Kathryn. Thank you for taking the time to write about your experience. We really appreciate you becoming a local trainer and giving back to a new cohort of AMIGOS. We hope you have an absolutely fantastic summer in the Yucatan!

AMIGOS will be the best decision you ever make!

AMIGOS will be the best decision you ever make!

5
Reviewed on 3/20/2017 by

If you are reading this, you probably have figured out by now that there are hundreds of volunteer programs out there for high school students. Some promise to help you learn another language. Others boast about the number of service hours you will receive by the end. It's easy enough to read about what makes each organization different, but quite challenging to decipher what exactly makes one BETTER than another. Whatever your goal may be for participating in a summer program, whether it be a resume boost, a way to immerse yourself abroad, or otherwise, you can be sure that volunteering with AMIGOS will provide you with an unparalleled opportunity to transform your worldview in a way that cannot be articulated through facts listed on a website. AMIGOS strives to make a sustainable impact abroad-- it's not about building something that may fall into disrepair months later, but rather the organization provides the platform through which the most unlikely of friendships are formed, where students and communities form bonds that leave neither group the same thereafter, and where youth from different cultures learn from each other in collaboration on community projects. DO AMIGOS!!!!!!!!!!!

Response from Explore Latin America with Amigos de las Americas:

Hello Emily. Thank you for taking the time to write your thoughts about your AMIGOS experience. It's great to see the community based initiative process come to life and how youth can make real sustainable impact. We look forward to having more enthusiastic and passionate participants like you!

My (Amazing) Experience with Amigos

My (Amazing) Experience with Amigos

5
Reviewed on 3/14/2017 by

I was a participant with Amigos when I was sixteen years old, and the lessons have stayed with me more than five years after. I spent two months in Paraguari, Paraguay in a rural community of a little over 1,000 people. I learned about myself and the world outside of my own. Along with a partner, I supported the community in constructing sixteen latrines and hosted camps about hygiene and environmental health with the community school children. I lived with a host family that gave meaning to the word "hospitality" and grew in my ability to lean in to the moments of discomfort that come with learning a new culture. I gained abundant confidence in my Spanish that has overflowed into my ability to grasp other languages as well. The immense stress on sustainability and community oriented growth has shaped my mentality toward development to this day. In all honesty, I believe it has played a major role in my collegiate career and life goals. In a globalizing world, I cannot imagine a greater skill than cultural competence. And that is only one of which you will grow in doing this program!

Response from Explore Latin America with Amigos de las Americas:

Thank you for sharing your experience, Rachel. It is so wonderful to hear how you have been able to continue to utilize the skills you developed in Paraguay. Thank you for all of the collaborative community development you facilitated while you were in Latin America!

AMIGOS changed my life

AMIGOS changed my life

5
Reviewed on 1/2/2017 by

AMIGOS gave me the leadership skills to tackle anything. I think through this trip I was able to build so many skills that many teenagers don't have the chance to gain at such a young age. I was able to stay in contact with all the people I met along the way, and have managed to stay involved with AMIGOS for the last 2 years since my summer in 2015. I think anyone is capable of making a difference this summer with AMIGOS. The experience is so rewarding and unforgettable.

Response from Explore Latin America with Amigos de las Americas:

Hey Adriana! We are so happy to hear that this was such a transformative experience for you. Yes, we absolutely agree, youth can make an incredible and impactful difference!

AMIGOS is an amazing opportunity ...

AMIGOS is an amazing opportunity ...

5
Reviewed on 1/16/2015 by

AMIGOS is an amazing opportunity for youth to get hands on leadership and community development experience. I was first a participant with AMIGOS is the Dominican Republic in 2008 and have been involved ever since. AMIGOS gives young people the unique opportunity to make connections with people of different ages, nationalities and backgrounds. AMIGOS also gives its past participants many ways to stay involved in the community through working with the local chapters, getting involved in participant training and working for AMIGOS over the summer in Latin America. AMIGOS truly changes lives - of our participants, families, staff and Latin American counterparts.

I was first a volunteer ...

I was first a volunteer ...

5
Reviewed on 1/14/2015 by

I was first a volunteer with Amigos Panama ’04 and Mexico ’05. What other program gives you the level of responsibility and cultural interaction that this program does? I was so grateful to Amigos that I continued to volunteer as a trainer for many years and now hold a chapter staff position. I credit Amigos with much of my maturity, personal development, leadership, and global awareness. It’s a bigger commitment than many other programs, but the benefits extend far beyond any other singular experience in my life.

Testimonials

A summer spent with Amigos de las Americas is a summer that you'll never forget. I had such an amazing time. I went for one of the longest programs and I think I could've stayed for another month or two. Everybody was so positive, not just in my community but the AMIGOS staff as well. It was infectious! I had never done anything like it before; I'd never left my parents for more than a week, but stepping out of my comfort zone really helped me grow and become more confident as a person.

- Claire, Participant in Panama Summer 2016 - Sept. 21, 2016

9 Participant Reviews

Write a Review
Transformational summer in Mexico

Transformational summer in Mexico

5
Reviewed on 5/16/2017 by

I was a participant in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2014. I knew very little Spanish when I arrived. Despite my language shortcomings, my host family remained patient with me. We learned to communicate through playing cards, doing magic tricks, and other fun bonding experiences. My Spanish improved over time and by the end of the summer I could even make jokes in Spanish! I have worked with several volunteer abroad organizations, and Amigos by far has the best safety element. There is an on-call emergency response team available 24/7 a supervisor that spends 24 hours in your community every week and escorts you to the clinic when you're sick, a list of behavioral standards to abide by with your safety in mind (no riding motorcycles, or other dangerous behavior). One thing that really makes Amigos stand out compared to other volunteer organizations, is the rigorous training that participants go through before departing for their summer. You build skills such as how to facilitate activities and how to hold community meetings, so that you can be useful in supporting the community once you arrive. Amigos was my first time using my Spanish and my first time out of the U.S. Needless to say, I was scared. However, by being bold and getting out of my comfort zone, I realized that I am capable of doing anything. By intentionally pushing my personal boundaries to pursue relationships with people, I realized that they are neither as scary nor judgmental as I had worried. While they did chuckle at my alien accent, I learned to accept their reactions as opportunities to laugh at myself and as indicators for where I can work on self-improvement. In addition, I became more welcoming of others who differ from me. After being trusted to lead a development project in a foreign country in a foreign tongue, I really do feel like I can do anything.

Response from Explore Latin America with Amigos de las Americas:

Hello Jessica. Wow, it is incredible to see the transformation that one summer can have. Thank you for sharing your experience living in an area where you worked to speak a new language. It sounds like you really grew during your time in Latin America.

A great program for great people.

A great program for great people.

5
Reviewed on 3/29/2017 by

Amigos de las Americas is a very unique experience, to say the least. I chose to participate in this program and continue to love it for the depth of cultural immersion which it provides, which I have never seen rivaled by any other program. The program places you in a small community in Latin America with a host family where you, officially, are there to realize a community development project and host after-school activities with the community's children. However, unofficially, you also dedicate yourself to the project of observing, learning from, misunderstanding, occasionally being confused and frustrated by, and finally appreciating another culture, as well as improving your communicative Spanish, and developing personal friendships (which is perhaps the most noble cause of all). The experience is versatile and can be drastically impacted by the nature of your host-country, host-community, and host-family. All of this culminates in an extremely unique experience. As a participant I was guided all the way by a wonderful supervisor, who provided me with excellent one-on-one mentorship. Personally, I returned to my original host-community, where I lived for several years. Whatever motivates you to do this program, it will certainly provide you with the rich simulation that a developing mind needs. It opened a new chapter in my life and gave me the opportunity I needed to change into a better person. It takes a lot of bravery to sign up for this program, but I highly recommend it.

Response from Explore Latin America with Amigos de las Americas:

Thomas, thank you for sharing your experience. You are so right about working through language miscommunication. It is all part of the process and really builds confidence and adaptability. We are glad to hear the community had such an impact that you were able to return.

Take charge of your summer (and your life!)

Take charge of your summer (and your life!)

5
Reviewed on 3/24/2017 by

I was a volunteer in the summer of 2013 in Azuay, Ecuador, where I lived in an Indigenous community high up in the Andes. My community was a bit different from neighboring Mestizo communities, which allowed me and my partners to immerse ourselves in a culture that not many outsiders get to experience. We completed a CBI (Community Based Initiative) project in collaboration with community members, and also facilitated workshops with kids in the community which was a lot of fun. My time with AMIGOS drastically improved my Spanish as well as my leadership skills such as fundraising, organization, and facilitation. I attribute my success in college to AMIGOS, and I feel like I am a very independent and goal-oriented person today because of my volunteer experience. AMIGOS is such an incredible organization because of the amount of freedom it gives high school students and its incredible support network in the US and Latin America. I cannot say enough good things about this organization, and I owe much of the person I am today to my volunteer experience and am forever grateful to AMIGOS for allowing me to take charge of my own life!

Response from Explore Latin America with Amigos de las Americas:

Hello Ben. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience. We are so happy to hear about the amazing skills you were able to develop in country and take with you through college.

Transformative Experience

Transformative Experience

5
Reviewed on 3/23/2017 by

I volunteered with AMIGOS the summer of 2013 in Madriz, Nicaragua and it was truly one of the most rewarding and formative experiences I have had. Volunteering with AMIGOS had such a positive impact on me that I have since volunteered with my local chapter of AMIGOS as a trainer and this summer I am going to be a Project Supervisor for the project in Yucatan, Mexico. AMIGOS sets itself apart from other similar organizations in that it truly engages the people in the communities involved so that they have leadership over the projects happening within their communities. Also from the viewpoint of the volunteer, AMIGOS provides an amazing community and support system and at the same time allows each volunteer to have a great deal of independence while they are in community. Volunteers are placed in communities with one or two partner volunteers and asked to collaborate with the community to plan and complete a project (that could be anything from a trash disposal system to community gardens) and teach after school camps with the children in the community. There are not many programs that allow for the level of true emersion into another culture that AMIGOS provides. AMIGOS is an organization that leaves both host community and volunteer feeling like they have gained something valuable from the experience.

Response from Explore Latin America with Amigos de las Americas:

Hello Kathryn. Thank you for taking the time to write about your experience. We really appreciate you becoming a local trainer and giving back to a new cohort of AMIGOS. We hope you have an absolutely fantastic summer in the Yucatan!

AMIGOS will be the best decision you ever make!

AMIGOS will be the best decision you ever make!

5
Reviewed on 3/20/2017 by

If you are reading this, you probably have figured out by now that there are hundreds of volunteer programs out there for high school students. Some promise to help you learn another language. Others boast about the number of service hours you will receive by the end. It's easy enough to read about what makes each organization different, but quite challenging to decipher what exactly makes one BETTER than another. Whatever your goal may be for participating in a summer program, whether it be a resume boost, a way to immerse yourself abroad, or otherwise, you can be sure that volunteering with AMIGOS will provide you with an unparalleled opportunity to transform your worldview in a way that cannot be articulated through facts listed on a website. AMIGOS strives to make a sustainable impact abroad-- it's not about building something that may fall into disrepair months later, but rather the organization provides the platform through which the most unlikely of friendships are formed, where students and communities form bonds that leave neither group the same thereafter, and where youth from different cultures learn from each other in collaboration on community projects. DO AMIGOS!!!!!!!!!!!

Response from Explore Latin America with Amigos de las Americas:

Hello Emily. Thank you for taking the time to write your thoughts about your AMIGOS experience. It's great to see the community based initiative process come to life and how youth can make real sustainable impact. We look forward to having more enthusiastic and passionate participants like you!

My (Amazing) Experience with Amigos

My (Amazing) Experience with Amigos

5
Reviewed on 3/14/2017 by

I was a participant with Amigos when I was sixteen years old, and the lessons have stayed with me more than five years after. I spent two months in Paraguari, Paraguay in a rural community of a little over 1,000 people. I learned about myself and the world outside of my own. Along with a partner, I supported the community in constructing sixteen latrines and hosted camps about hygiene and environmental health with the community school children. I lived with a host family that gave meaning to the word "hospitality" and grew in my ability to lean in to the moments of discomfort that come with learning a new culture. I gained abundant confidence in my Spanish that has overflowed into my ability to grasp other languages as well. The immense stress on sustainability and community oriented growth has shaped my mentality toward development to this day. In all honesty, I believe it has played a major role in my collegiate career and life goals. In a globalizing world, I cannot imagine a greater skill than cultural competence. And that is only one of which you will grow in doing this program!

Response from Explore Latin America with Amigos de las Americas:

Thank you for sharing your experience, Rachel. It is so wonderful to hear how you have been able to continue to utilize the skills you developed in Paraguay. Thank you for all of the collaborative community development you facilitated while you were in Latin America!

AMIGOS changed my life

AMIGOS changed my life

5
Reviewed on 1/2/2017 by

AMIGOS gave me the leadership skills to tackle anything. I think through this trip I was able to build so many skills that many teenagers don't have the chance to gain at such a young age. I was able to stay in contact with all the people I met along the way, and have managed to stay involved with AMIGOS for the last 2 years since my summer in 2015. I think anyone is capable of making a difference this summer with AMIGOS. The experience is so rewarding and unforgettable.

Response from Explore Latin America with Amigos de las Americas:

Hey Adriana! We are so happy to hear that this was such a transformative experience for you. Yes, we absolutely agree, youth can make an incredible and impactful difference!

AMIGOS is an amazing opportunity ...

AMIGOS is an amazing opportunity ...

5
Reviewed on 1/16/2015 by

AMIGOS is an amazing opportunity for youth to get hands on leadership and community development experience. I was first a participant with AMIGOS is the Dominican Republic in 2008 and have been involved ever since. AMIGOS gives young people the unique opportunity to make connections with people of different ages, nationalities and backgrounds. AMIGOS also gives its past participants many ways to stay involved in the community through working with the local chapters, getting involved in participant training and working for AMIGOS over the summer in Latin America. AMIGOS truly changes lives - of our participants, families, staff and Latin American counterparts.

I was first a volunteer ...

I was first a volunteer ...

5
Reviewed on 1/14/2015 by

I was first a volunteer with Amigos Panama ’04 and Mexico ’05. What other program gives you the level of responsibility and cultural interaction that this program does? I was so grateful to Amigos that I continued to volunteer as a trainer for many years and now hold a chapter staff position. I credit Amigos with much of my maturity, personal development, leadership, and global awareness. It’s a bigger commitment than many other programs, but the benefits extend far beyond any other singular experience in my life.

Testimonials

A summer spent with Amigos de las Americas is a summer that you'll never forget. I had such an amazing time. I went for one of the longest programs and I think I could've stayed for another month or two. Everybody was so positive, not just in my community but the AMIGOS staff as well. It was infectious! I had never done anything like it before; I'd never left my parents for more than a week, but stepping out of my comfort zone really helped me grow and become more confident as a person.

- Claire, Participant in Panama Summer 2016 - Sept. 21, 2016

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