Amigos de las Americas - Panama: Cocle

Video and Photos

Volunteers with local students
Volunteers with local students
Volunteers
Volunteers
Treats during midterm break
Treats during midterm break
Talking to kids in the community
Talking to kids in the community
Volunteers
Volunteers
Environmental project
Environmental project
Beach time!
Beach time!

About

Promote health, reforestation, and environmental protection by learning from local agencies taking care of the environment by creating nurseries, planting trees, and protecting local water sources. Explore the tropical scenery and the diverse geography of the Coclé region in Panama. You’ll live in an area that is a hydrological reserve, which means that it’s an important source of water for the country and there are many rivers that are popular for swimming. Live with a host family and collaborate with the Panamanian Ministry of Health on your community service project. With your AMIGOS partner(s), plan and lead fun activities for kids to teach them about taking care of the environment. When you’re not working together with community members to improve the environment around you (earning 215 service hours), take a break by playing games with your host family.

You can choose to spend 4 weeks or 6 weeks in Coclé.

Highlights
  • Live like a local with a host family
  • Lead daily activities for local kids
  • Collaborate with community members on an environmental project
  • Improve your Spanish through authentic cultural immersion

Questions & Answers

AMIGOS participants for our core summer programs must have at least 2 years of Spanish or the equivalent in order to be eligible for the program. We have a new Discover AMIGOS program for 13-15 year olds and a Gap Program for high school graduates up to age 25. There is no language requirement for those programs.

Reviews

97%
based on 20 reviews
  • Impact 9
  • Support 9.1
  • Fun 9.3
  • Value 8.7
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 1 - 15 of 20
Default avatar
Lea
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

AMAZING Experience

My decision to participate in AMIGOS de las Américas was one of the best I've ever made. I spent six weeks living in a rural town in Cocle with one other partner from the United States. During our stay we helped the community build a playground out of recycled materials and taught camps to children after school each day. I made many lasting friendships with community members with whom I continue to text and talk with on the phone to this day. This experience also allowed me to solidly my Spanish fluency - although all levels of Spanish ability can thrive in AMIGOS. I developed many valuable skills during my time in Cocle such as problem solving, cooperation, confidence and independence. The experience was very challenging and pushed me out of my comfort zone but therefore was extremely rewarding. Through AMIGOS I also gained access to a network of alumni and peers and I have continued to return to the organization, first as a vet trainer and then as a member of the National Youth Alumni Council. I am confident that AMIGOS will stay with me for many years to come.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I went swimming in a waterhole below a waterfall with some teenager friends I made in my community!
Default avatar
Megan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Staff Perspective

Working in Cocle, Panama for 2 consecutive summers on the Amigos de las Americas staff team was an absolute dream. It amazes me each and every year how extensively each program is planned, executed and evaluated to make the subsequent projects even better. The maturity and competency of all involved (staff, volunteers, local community support) creates an incredible atmosphere focused on leadership and confidence-building. It is life-changing for all who take part.

Rosalinda
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Thank You

I recently came back from AMIGOS this August. I was completely impacted by this program, in a good way. I have never felt so safe and at peace then I was with this program. I had this most amazing experience and would do it a thousand times more if I had the chance to. It really does help you find yourself and really makes you value your life back home.

What would you improve about this program?
I believe it could be improved by making it more affordable or including a lot more scholarships
Mimi
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Azuero, Panama

I went to Azuero, Panama as a volunteer in 2011. It was truly life changing and has influenced every part of my life since then. Since being a participant with AMIGOS I have been on staff twice, going on third, my choice of study at university is Community and Regional Development, and I am planning on going into youth leadership, hopefully working abroad. It sparked something in me by allowing me to grow into the leader I am today.
My community was called Los Pintos, it was small about 200 people in the mountains. My host family was a huge challenge for me in the beginning, but it turned into such a beautiful part of my experience. I am a picky eater and have food restrictions which is a difficulty traveling and not wanting to offend anyone, especially when I was 17 and my spanish was not so great. It was hard to work through it but I became flexible and was able to try new things. My host family and I would cook together which is how we became close, they became my family and I became a part of theirs.
The opportunity to work with children and learn how to teach and develop lesson plans was really cool. Our project in our community was establishing a soccer team and we were able to fundraise with the local youth for supplies. Overall- AMAZING. And everyone should participate- knowing it will be one of the most challenging things you can do but also the most rewarding.

Default avatar
PanamaAmigo
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Anton, Panama

My summer in a community in Anton, Panama was one I would not trade for the world. There were struggles, just like there would be with any program, but how much I grew and learned (in my leadership and in Spanish) is something I could not have done in any other program. The staff and the International Office's number one priority is your safety. Although this is not a 'vacation' by any means, the values gained by this experience could not be had with another program that is more touristy and 'fun' oriented. When it comes to international volunteering, the most important thing is sustainability, and this program works on that and lets the community take the initiative, which helps it be a successful organization.

What would you improve about this program?
This program has a high cost, and to be able to diversify their volunteer group, they would need to bring down the amount of the program. In addition, I feel there needs to be more training and strictness on rule violations, because there is always too many people who slip through the cracks that tell the stories about how you can get away with it and attract the wrong kind of volunteer to this program.
Default avatar
Ariana
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Experience

My time spent in Panama was amazing, I had a girl and boy partner, and while we did face troubles such as communication and getting the project started, I learned a lot about not only myself, but also the world. I was really forced to grow as a person, and being pushed out of your comfort zone in such a way is really very beneficial.

What would you improve about this program?
The only thing I would say is to maybe give more concrete guidelines as to when things are going to happen, we had a few miscommunications about when supplies were supposed to arrive, or when things were supposed to happen.
Default avatar
elavigne
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Brief Overview of My Experience with Amigos

Amigos is a wonderfully unique program. Most of the volunteers are high schoolers who are looking for overseas service work. Unlike many other service programs, the volunteers do not stay in a large, organized group but rather are split into pairs and sent to live with host families in rural communities. The volunteers have a lot of flexibility in the type of projects they initiate. Several years ago, I spent my sophomore summer of high school with the program in Veraguas, Panama.

My partner and I spent the first few weeks visiting families in the community and talking to them about what sort of project they'd like to see. Eventually we held a town meeting. It was a pretty good turn out- about one hundred people. I was sixteen and all of a sudden I was in front of a classroom of busy community members trying to facilitate a discussion in a foreign language. No doubt, I was very nervous and felt under qualified to be initiating a community wide project. We decided to build a sidewalk around the school so kids would stop slipping in the mud and glass. It took eight weeks but at the end I felt empowered. The community had surprised us with a beautiful despedida. The students coordinated dances and puppet shows. We ended the day with an all night dance festival.

Readjusting to the states was difficult - I missed my host family, my partner, the students. However, I felt more empowered then I had ever been. And that's the point of the program - to empower our generation to get out of the box, build valuable relationships with people and take the initiative to improve our communities. If there was ever a program that built awesome young leaders, Amigos would be it.

Default avatar
jriley
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Empowering and Fulfilling Experience

Amigos de las Americas provides students with a unique opportunity for full immersion in a Latin American community. Volunteers will live with host families in rural towns, which enables them to learn the language and culture of their host country. By cooking with your host mom, learning a game from local children, playing soccer with other teens, or swimming in the river, volunteers will open their eyes to another way of life.
While leading classes and collaborating on projects with community members, volunteers will also learn valuable skills in empowerment, leadership, and cultural exchange.
This program absolutely changed my life and is so participant driven. Amigos cares about the volunteers' experience and is constantly changing and adapting to better themselves.
When volunteers enter a community, they work with others to determine projects rather than deciding what is best for a community. This community based process ensures cultural sensitivity and mutual respect.
I don't think I've heard of anyone regretting their summer with Amigos and many people return as supervisors, associate directors, and directors.
Whenever I meet someone who has participated in Amigos, I feel an immediate connection because I know that they have participated in something that I love.
I will always remember my time with Amigos and highly encourage anyone interested in traveling, meeting new people, making a difference, and practicing Spanish to apply. It's the best investment you'll ever make.

Default avatar
FormerSUP
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing, Changed my life

Amigos in Cocle absolutely changed my life. It gave me so many responsibilities that I never had before. I am a better person now because of it. It gave me the courage to travel around the world now, without other people, because nothing is as frightening as doing survey for the first time. You then realize you had nothing to fear in the first place, the people of Panama are amazing.

Default avatar
Savannah
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Warm community and meaningful work

I settled in quickly to my community in Juan Hambron. Everyone was kind and supportive. I really liked my partner and the staff who came to check on us were cool. We renovated the kitchen in the local school and thankfully the head of the PTA was a contractor. The project went very well. I had a great time on the beaches and i had fun at the half-way break and a conference we attended. I still keep i touch with friends I meant there and I am hoping to go back soon. The only downside was being eaten alive by mosquitoes!

Default avatar
Idaho
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Awesome time with Amigos in Panama

It was an awesome time! I learned so much and Amigos did an awesome job preparing us. I really love Panama and would love to go back someday. It was great working on our project which was to build a Computer Center. I also enjoyed bonding relationships with my host family. I will treasure my time in Panama forever.

Default avatar
sid95
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Experience!!

It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. My Spanish improved more than I ever imagined it would, I made special connections with so many people, and I learned so much about a culture I would never have an opportunity to learn about in school. One of the most memorable moments of my experience happened during the classes that we were teaching to the second graders. We asked them to draw a picture of their families, and our host cousin drew my partner and I in her family portrait.

Default avatar
Avery
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Cocle, Panama

My time in Cocle was an interesting one. We started the day helping in the building of a retaining wall, and continued on to lunch. After lunch we would wait for about two hours for nobody to show up to our campamentos. This was upsetting, but it was simply a stutter in the amazing time I had with AMIGOS.

Default avatar
Allie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Definitely-Worth-It Summer Experience

In the end, I would definitely recommend this program to anyone looking for a "fantastic summer experience" as Amigos says. I know each day-to-day schedule was different and unique but mine included Getting up, teaching school, waiting/working on class schedules until dinner, dinner at a different house each night, playing soccer on the way home, spending time with my host family, and then going to bed at 9 PM.

I really liked my schedule, but my CBIP did not require the help of the vols or community members, as the school hired workers to do the job, so after school there was not much to do until dinner other than wait for the kids to get home and plan classes. I would suggest that volunteers take up a side project to enlist the help of community parents if they feel they have too much time on their hands.

As for the PSUPS, my route had a rather incompetent one who always gave us last-minute instructions, started inappropriate conversations, and harsh negative feedback only for one of my partners. A lot of the staff did not connect with the volunteers and did not get along/ made the volunteers constantly feel like they were on thin ice.

Default avatar
Claire
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Experience

I had a wonderful experience in Azuero. I was placed with a great partner and had an amazing supervisor as well. In addition, I absolutely loved my community. The people were not only friendly and welcoming, but they were motivated to participate and help out in projects. We were able to begin a youth group, paint and install doors into the community center, plant many trees, etc. I felt as though the community was greatly impacted by our presence, and we were of course incredibly impacted them too. I spent most of my time playing with the children in the community and had the best time playing fun games and activities with them. Our Campamentos were definitely a highlight to the summer. I also really enjoyed having a rotational meal plan because it allowed me to meet everyone in the community; however, I did struggle with the amount of food they gave us as well as the grease that saturated almost every meal. Regardless of the food, I loved being immersed into Panamanian culture and feeing as though I was Panamanian too. I learned several traditional dance moves, sang to Spanish songs, played fun card games, and learned how to cook some Panamanian dishes. Living in Azuero for eight weeks could not have been a better experience, and I am so happy that I decided to participate in AMIGOS.

Interviews

Alumni Interviews

Staff Interviews

About 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...