Amigos de las Americas

Amigos de las Americas


Founded in 1965, AMIGOS is the safest, most authentic volunteer and immersion program in Latin America for young people ages 13 to 22. Volunteers get the opportunity to explore a new country, learn Spanish, bond with their host family, and make a positive impact by working on a community service project side by side with local peers and community partners. Our relationships with local and international organizations — built over 50 years — enable authentic engagements in communities across the region.


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Yes, I recommend this program

Amigos Gap 2021 covid edition!

I really love Amigos de las Americas… I was on the trial Gap semester trip and we experienced some kinks but I’m sure that the program will be improved! The people are wonderful and I went to Costa Rica, which is a beautiful place to forget about life in the States for a little bit. I learned a lot about the CR government and quality of life, and I made memories that I will never forget! The pod (covid safe - VERY safe!) system is hard at first but it’s easy to get used to :) I highly recommend!

What was your funniest moment?
This kid Jimmy fell on his face in the grass playing Mejenga (Costa Rican slang for pick-up soccer game)
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Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing Cultural Experience

Spending a month living in Costa Rica through Amigos was the greatest experience of my life thus far. In 2017, I volunteered through Amigos and spent a month living in rural Costa Rica with a host family. The memories I created, conversations I shared, and connections I formed will forever impact my global perspective. No other abroad program is as immersive or powerful as Amigos. At 15, I was able to live in a foreign country, and work with community members on a community based project. I recommend Amigos to anyone that is interested in gaining a broader global perspective and challenging their outlook on life. Although at times it was difficult to be away from home and live in a new place without hot water, wifi, and other luxuries, my experience with Amigos is something that I will forever cherish and be grateful for.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Meet as many locals as possible and immerse yourself into the community and the culture!
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Yes, I recommend this program

Beautiful Experience

I LOVED this program. The amount I learned and the relationships I made with other volunteers in unexplainable and absolutely amazing. I loved every moment that I got to spend with my new friends. I hope that you will join this program and have just an amazing time as I did.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Treasure every moment of this incredible journey. Enjoy :)
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Yes, I recommend this program

An amazing experience in a beautiful country

I went in the summer of 2019; I loved meeting new people from around the US and the world. It was hands down, one of the best experiences I've had in my life. Not only were we surrounded by amazing participants, but the staff was so supportive and encouraged us to get out of our comfort zones. My host family welcomed my Amigos partners and me with open arms and took us in as apart of their community. I loved learning more about Latinx culture, and I hope to participate in another Amigos program in the future.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing life experience!!

I went on this trip summer 2019 and it was the best experience of my life. I meet so many cool people from a range of states and countries and I had the opportunity to live with a loving and welcoming host family. The amigos staff was very supportive in our growth and learning and anything else we needed. By living with a host family we were able to fully amerce ourselves in the culture which was one of my favorite parts. I couldn’t have had a better experience and I hope to do another Amigos program in the future.


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose AMIGOS because I had done a program with them in Nicaragua when I was in high school. Their gap year program seemed like the next step up and I was able to have an internship while I was abroad.

Their program was also one of the more affordable ones I found and felt more authentic because of the host family experience. They also highlight that you learn grant writing through your internship which has been a marketable skill going forward.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

AMIGOS set participants up with an internship depending on their interests and previous work experience, a host family to stay with, Spanish classes, and excursions every couple of months. They also had about a week of training in Texas that served as an orientation.

If you wanted to leave the city and plan your own trip, you totally can, but you would need to organize that on your own! Otherwise, everything you needed was taken care of by AMIGOS.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

I would say stay for the entire year! The program is extremely challenging but you get the hang of it after a while! Those considering the semester option might not have enough time to assimilate and make the most of their time in Latin America. And take dance classes before you go, trust me on this one.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

An average day starts with waking up and eating breakfast with your host family, then walking to the bus stop and going into downtown where you would either go to Spanish classes or your internship. I usually met other participants for lunch or ate with my internship supervisors at their house.

After work, other participants and I would meet at a dance or yoga class. I always ate dinner with my host family and if it was on the weekend we would end the night at a discoteca!

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was the notion that taking a gap year or semester was a waste of time. It was hard to watch my friends go straight to college when it felt like I was taking a break. But as it turns out, my time abroad was extremely valuable.

Apart from learning grant writing and perfecting my Spanish, many participants and myself also found a lot of clarity in terms of what we wanted to pursue when we returned to the US. I changed my major as soon as I got to USC, largely in part from my experience at my internship in Ecuador.

What's your favorite memory from your time abroad?

As an avid backpacker, I was able to spend time in the national parks around Ecuador hiking and exploring. I expected to find some strange plants and animals but no matter how many warnings you get, the first time you run into a llama is really something. Especially when they spit.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Lauren Hauser

Job Title
Managing Director of Regional Operations, Former Project Director: Yucatan, Mexico
Lauren has worked for AMIGOS since 2012 when she served as a program mentor for the exchange program in Paraguay. From there, she ran AMIGOS programs in Mexico and now works at the National Office where she gets to find the next cohort of amazing young leaders!

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite travel memory was being able to run AMIGOS Programs in the Yucatan, Mexico. I fell in love with the people, the culture, and working in the Mayan communities there. Opportunities like this remind me of how similar we are in our desires, hopes and dreams. Even though many of these families had very little, they actually had a lot in terms of love. Although it was a 'work' experience, it felt like much much more.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I love that AMIGOS is a leadership organization through and through and so you really get opportunities to take on new projects, learn new things and flex your leadership muscles. I really feel like through AMIGOS roles, I have had the opportunity to learn more about myself and in turn, become a better leader with others. More tangibly, project management! What a skill to take with you for the rest of your life.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

If I could go on an AMIGOS program I would have a hard time choosing! Personally, I would love to do the projects where there is a strong indigenous community presence. I get excited to learn new languages and experience cultures. Our Paraguay, Ecuador or Mexico projects really offer students the opportunities to not just learn and practice Spanish, but also other languages like Mayan, Guarani and Quechua. Our Ecuador program also has a specific focus on youth entrepreneurship and I think it would be really interesting to learn about micro-enterprises alongside Ecuadorian youth!

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

I think what makes AMIGOS unique is our commitment to building young global leaders committed to service. What I appreciate is that we don't just do that with the students who pay to do our programs, but with youth locally who take part in our training program as well. Our Latin American youth are a key part of our work, as well as our host families. I am also very proud of our training program. We offer a 30 hour core curriculum that really prepares students to learn and grow in independent environments and I really believe that when we step outside our comfort zones, our opportunity to grow is nothing short of powerful!

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