Amigos de las Americas - Paraguay
96% Rating
(17 Reviews)

Amigos de las Americas - Paraguay

AMIGOS participants live in the the departments of Paraguari and Misiones. Participants working with the Paraguayan Ministry of Health (SENASA) collaborate on a sanitation and latrine-building project. These hands-on construction activities are reinforced by health education activities facilitated by the AMIGOS participants. Participants assigned to work with Plan Paraguay similarly pair capacity-building activities with direct engagement in community-appropriate development projects. Plan participants also support family gardens and tree planting projects as well as workshops related to nutrition, community health, and environmental protection.

Locations
South America » Paraguay
Starting Price
$0.00
Currency
USD
Price Details
The Participation Fee includes:
- Round-trip international airfare from your gateway city
- food
- lodging
- transportation in Latin America
- All project related supplies
- Training materials and workshops
- Veteran supervisory staff
- 24-Hour emergency On-Call Communications System during the summer
- Supplementary short-term international medical insurance
Other Locations
Paraguarí and San Pedro

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Impact
    89%
  • Support
    97%
  • Fun
    89%
  • Value
    91%
  • Safety
    97%

Program Reviews (17)

Rachel Massey
Female
21 years old
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Bryn Mawr College

My First Experience Abroad

10/10

As a participant with Amigos, I spent two months in Paraguari, Paraguay. I a rural community of a little over 1,000 people, I learned about myself and the world outside of my normal. Along with a partner, I supported the community in constructing sixteen latrines and hosted camps about hygiene and environmental health with the school children. I lived with a family that taught me the true meaning of hospitality and grew in my ability to lean in to the moments of discomfort that come with learning a new culture. I gained 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 stuck with me 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!

How can this program be improved?

If anything, I would suggest preventative emotional awareness workshops. Not everyone goes through homesickness the same way and I know that I did not know how to process my irritability at the time. I was only sixteen and it was my first time abroad for so long. Luckily, I had a partner that was older and able to help me through it!

Rosalinda
Female
20 years old
Phoenix, Arizona
Arizona State University

Best Summer of my life

10/10

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 the 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. I believe everyone should have this opportunity once in their lifetime.

How can this program be improved?

I believe it could be improved by making it more affordable or including a lot more scholarships

Kelly
Female
42 years old
Tucson Arizona
Saint Olaf College

It was hard..

6/10

I was 17 when I did Amigos in Paraguay and it was hard.

Outside of urban areas (where all volunteers were in 1992 and I would assume most volunteers still are placed) people speak their local language..it's called guarani and it's unrelated to Spanish. Locals did not speak Spanish that well in my area; we often took a kid with us to translate (guarani to Spanish) when we worked..we were lucky to have a fairly fluent in Spanish, sweet and smart kid around.

It was deeply cool to learn a bit of guarani (the word for milk is camboo..it actually sounds like a cow mooing!) but over all this definitely made it harder. Since people spoke to us in Spanish, we weren't really immersed in either language. And let's be honest.. a big reason people do Amigos is to improve their Spanish. (In our training we had a training day where we named a goal and the first one was "learn some Spanish"..it was followed by audible groans and statements that "she took my goal".) I did improve somewhat in Spanish, but I also cried after spending one day with urban native Spanish speakers and realizing how much more I could have been improving.

I did Amigos again in Costa Rica and I came home very fluent; I still am very fluent. I did major in Spanish in college--so I was much more comfortable in Spanish at age 20 (after 2 years of being a Spanish major in college) than I did been in high school-- but real immersion also made a huge difference.

I have not been back since 1992, so perhaps the country is now a bit more modern. But in the rural areas--or at least my rural area-- there absolutely was nothing around for miles and miles. Besides the social isolation, the remoteness caused real practical problems.

It was hard to be sick! I 17 I had frequent and severe migraines and there was no way to get any medical care. My partner needed medication badly (for an issue she developed there, so she couldn't bring it from home), but my route leader could only come once a week and the week he came he didn't have it. I 100% "get" that locals live that way their whole lives and we are lucky! But that didn't make it easier when both I and my partner were sick and couldn't get what we needed.

At 17 I just didn't think about what would happen if I had a true emergency.. but now at 40 I think of these things :) and it could be very very dangerous to be so isolated if you did break a bone or (heaven forbid) get sexually assaulted.

It was very hard for us to manage our project since so many of our families lived so far from us. We had no personal relationship to the families we helped, nor did they know gringos were in the area with materials for them to make latrines they could use without running water. If families weren't home it was very hard to "just come back later" and some families either could not understand why we were there (obviously this is a language issue as well as a location issue) or were wary of foreigners and would not talk to us. Once we even felt like we were in danger when we were at the door of a hostile family.

Over all I felt we didn't make much of an impact on our community..and now I question why I was even needed there. I think that it would have been more effective to just donate the supplies we had to a local agency and let the agency distribute them rather than placing volunteers in such a remote area to do losa (the cement blocks we had to give out for people to use to build latrines) distribution.

It would be even harder for teens now, because--for better or for worse!-- we are all used to being able to communicate with friends and family via social media and/or skype. (No one had facebook in 1992.) Even I at 40 enjoy posting about my travels on facebook as events happen and if I was traveling without having any facebook access I would miss it. We are also used to being "linked in" to the news now.. Obviously getting away from all of that for a few months has advantages as well, but I think it would be extremely difficult for a north American teen to be in Paraguay for 8 weeks.

I should mention that we did not bond that deeply with our family. They weren't hostile to us (or generally azzholes/hard to be around), but--for whatever reason-- my partners and this family just didn't bond that much. I had two partners and we all three felt jealous when we visited other volunteers who clearly were closer to their families than we were. So perhaps I had bad luck and if you were luckier with your family it would be a much better experience. (But then again..you might not get lucky with your host family just like I didn't.)

I am glad that I went! I learned a lot (about their culture and myself) and hey..where else can you learn guarani and ride around in an ox cart? And I didn't hate it by any means! It was beautiful and peaceful and I still remember the night time stars and the times sitting and drinking mate (the local tea) fondly. Plus it was good to be pushed out of my comfort zone at aged 17--and my transition to college was easier for me since I had done Amigos.

But if you want to go, I think that other countries might be better choices. I should mention a BUT (and a big but!), however. I went in 1992! Now Amigos does focus more on whole community help--rather than just the "pass out the losas..and do dental charlas as a secondary project" mentality they had then; that's great! I am sure that if I had actually been planting trees and helping with garbage pick up--although we were so remote trash everywhere wasn't a major issue-- I would have gotten much more out of Amigos.

How can this program be improved?

Amigos can't do anything about the fact that Paraguay is a non Spanish speaking country, but what would greatly help was more language training and training from people who knew English..and yes there were fluent English speakers from Paraguay helping us, so they do exist. We had 9 hours or so of language class in guarani and it was taught in Spanish.

Now that they have the gap year projects, perhaps people could only study guarani for a full month and then do an 8 month project there.

Amigos also can't do anything about how rural Paraguay is--and the program is set up to work in rural communities. But they could try to set up the projects so that volunteers aren't expected to distribute losas to families miles away from their houses (and miles away in every direction). Perhaps people in the most rural areas could do more work within their own communities instead of distributing losas. But--from reading about Amigos now-- it sounds like they have already implemented this idea.

Response from

Sorry I got so long..I got carried away!

Tania
Female
24 years old
Austin, Texas
Texas

The most fulfilling summer of my life

10/10

As a member of project staff in San Pedro, Paraguay, in 2011, I got to know several beautiful communities and work with young people from throughout the United States and Paraguay to achieve concrete results. This organization challenges you to do what you never imagined, but supports you so that you can succeed. For example, I spent six weeks traveling among four different communities; addressing the health, safety, and mental health needs of eight teenagers; supervising them as they ran educational activities and worked with community leaders; coordinating implementation of community-led projects through material selection and purchase; working with the rest of project staff to review participant issues, organize collective events, and write a weekly newsletter; and hiking the cheerful hills of the San Pedro countryside. While this was very difficult and demanding work, I never felt that I was not able to fulfill my duties because of the support structure of the organization. Constant communication among community members, participants, and senior staff meant that my summer as a supervisor with AMIGOS was the most fulfilling one I've had - and it's been four years already.

Note: Paraguayans speak Guarani as their first language, and Spanish as their second. This makes their Spanish much easier to understand, as they don't talk as quickly as people from other countries.

Sophie
Female
42 years old
Minneapolis, MN
Carleton College

Looking back 15 years later, this was the most influential summer of my life

10/10

I was an AMIGOS participant in the Paraguari region of Paraguay in the summer of 2000. My two partners and I were responsible for overseeing the distribution of pre-made latrine floors (think a slab of cement with a hole in the middle) to families in our host community of Ybyryty so that they could build sanitary latrines with walls and a roof and a floor cover. We also gave talks at the local schools about health and hygiene and constructed fuel-efficient stoves for a handful of families.

But what has stayed with me since then is not the work we did, its the relationships we formed and all of the things I learned about myself in the process. To this day, I am still in some sort of touch (albeit mostly on social media) with my partners and with several members of that community. I still consider them to be my family, even though I spent only 6 weeks with them more than a decade ago. The bonding that happens naturally with AMIGOS is something that I don't think can be understood by people who haven't gone through it. You can make lifelong friends in a matter of days or weeks. It also strengthened my relationships with my parents and sister. I lived with people who didn't have much in the way of materials goods, but they had the most loving, wonderful family. It made me appreciate my own family in a way I hadn't considered before that summer.

Before that summer, it was really hard for me to step out of my comfort zone. If I faced a challenging situation, I was more likely to run away from it than to face it head on. But then something clicked that first time I had to approach someone's house and explain, in Spanish, that we were North Americans in their community to give them toilets. I thought they would think we were crazy. Instead they asked us how big to build the hole for the latrine and would we like something to eat. And in repeating this process with dozens of families, my self confidence grew and I have never doubted my own capabilities since then. When I am faced with something new or unexpected, I know that I can get through it.

I also learned how to deal with ambiguity. It's common to say in AMIGOS that the only expectation you can really have about your summer experience is that things will not happen according to your expectations. Things will go wrong, supplies won't arrive, people will show up to your community meeting 2 hours late. It happens. So what you learn through AMIGOS is how to deal with it. That's a skill that takes most people years to develop.

Most importantly, I learned that I could be a leader. I could take charge of a project and deliver results. I didn't know it 15 years ago, but that summer in Paraguay would set the stage for what is now my career. I'm a project manager, and I was able to talk myself into my first project management job by telling my interviewer that if I could oversee the construction of 45 sanitary latrines in rural Paraguay at the age of 16, I could handle anything.

My participation with AMIGOS didn't stop when I returned home after that summer experience. I spent the following summer in Guanajuato, Mexico helping fund the septic tank for a local health clinic, and spent the summer after that as a project supervisor, responsible for the health and safety of 9 volunteers. I am currently in my 7th year serving on the Board of Directors of my local AMIGOS chapter.

Grace
Female
32 years old
Santa Barbara
Pitzer College

Best Decision I Ever Made

10/10

I volunteered with AMIGOS starting back in 2003 and 2004 and spent subsequent summers working on staff. I know it's been a few years, but my AMIGOS experiences still have profound, enriching, and lasting impacts on my life---to this day, a lot of my career choices and lifestyle are influenced by my AMIGOS summers. Specifically, I am indebted to AMIGOS for helping me build leadership/management skills, Spanish fluency, a passion for community development, and introducing me to some of the most fantastic people I have ever met. It's also cool to have program planning, management, and evaluation experience by age 20! Fellow AMIGOS, partnering agencies, and host communities are immensely inspiring, genuine, and kind; a fantastic group of people to immerse yourself in for a few months (or years! I STILL regularly talk to friends I made in Paraguay 9 years ago!) AMIGOS is undoubtedly a large undertaking; it's incredibly challenging at times (e.g. language barriers, getting sick, slow project progress) but AMIGOS has a strong network, support system, and health/safety protocol set up in country; you're never at it alone and always supported. Do it, it's awesome!

Sacha
Female
19 years old
Los Angeles, California

Rohayhu Paraguay

9/10

Amigos de las Americas is really a unique and amazing program, and Paraguay is an awesome place as well, full of unique culture and welcoming people. I was a volunteer in Paraguari, Paraguay in 2013 for 7 weeks. I had a great time in Paraguay, and it is an experience I will value for the rest of my life. Most days, my partner and I would meet up in the morning and walk to the chapel to give the campamentos (day camps) for a couple hours, return to our host families for lunch, then walk around and talk to people and plan our project (a small park). Our community was rural, but was very spread out and was home to over a thousand people. We spent so much time walking it is surprising we had time for anything else! The connections I made with the people we met, especially my host family, were the best part for sure. I love Amigos' mission and structure, but the one thing I disliked about it was the campamentos, or day camps - the weekly themes were very difficult to teach, and nobody in our community took us seriously. It was very discouraging. Apart from this, I love Amigos and plan to do it next summer as well!

Libby
Female
19 years old
Chicago, Illinois
Other

Ann experience I wouldn't trade for the world

9/10

My time spent in Paraguay last Summer was something I will keep with me for the rest of my life. I miss it every day and wish I could go back more than anything. What I miss most about it all is the people I met and the relationships I formed. I made great friends with my host family, the people in my community, and other volunteers on the trip. Of course, it was not always easy. I found days (especially when it rained) where I faced extreme boredom, or when I felt like nothing was going to plan. But that's the beauty of it, you NEVER know what to expect. No two people's experiences will ever be the same. I would reccomend amigos de las americas in a heart beat, it was something that changed my life and I can't thank the organization enough for that.

ROHAYHUparaguay
Female
19 years old
Boulder, Colorado
Other

AMAZING EXPERIENCE

10/10

I went to Paraguari, Paraguay for 8 weeks summer of 2011. I had a great time! I worked in a community of about 230 people and my friend and I built latrines, planted trees, ran well over 100 hours of kids educational camps, encouraged participation in a photography project and made efforts to encourage community members to keep their community clean by organizing clean up days and buying trash cans. I had the opportunity to make new friends both in the U.S.A and in Paraguay, improve my Spanish, learn some Guarani, improve my leadership skills and discover the new culture. I am definately excited to volunteer with AMIGOS in the future!

katikati88
Female
24 years old
Los Angeles, California
Other

AMIGOS is the best decision you will ever make

10/10

I lived in a community of 250 people outside of Paraguari with two other volunteers from the United States. We worked with the kids and community members every day: building latrines, planning fundraisers, and holding camps for the kids. My host family was the best, and I still keep in touch with them. Everyone always says that AMIGOS changed their life, and that holds true for me as well. This experience was so rewarding and wonderful. Working with youth leaders in Latin American communities shows you how similar we all are, no matter where we come from. I have continued to volunteer with AMIGOS ever since my first summer in Paraguay because it is where I feel the most at home, and where I feel that I can have an important impact on another person's life.

Breezy
Female
19 years old
Salt Lake City, Utah

Most amazing experience ever!

10/10

I participated in Amigos in 2010 and was apart of the Paraguai project. While in community we were able to raise money and put electricity in the school and plant 100 trees. I think the thing I enjoyed most was the amazing relationships that I established with my host family and the kids that I spent time with at school. I loved waking up in the morning to take the cows out to the field with my host dad and learning how to cook gizo de arroz and cocido with my host mom.

It was the best opportunity I have ever had to expand my leadership skills and experience true Spanish immersion.
Everybody should participate in this program!!

CMULLAN
Female
24 years old
Minneapolis, MN
Other

San Pedro, Paraguay

10/10

While in San Pedro, I taught children about the environment and did fun activities with them. Also, my partner and I built 6 fuel efficient stoves and planted 100 baby trees. It was great being in a small community with only 1 other American. Our supervisor would come visit and check on us once a week, but otherwise we were in charge of our own project. It was awesome to have that much responsibility at such a young age(17). Working with the community on sustainable community development was really fun, and making connections with community members was unbelievable.
After coming back from my summer, I definitely saw myself as a more independent and confident person, and that was really cool to see. I would recommend and AMIGOS experience for anyone.

elleobrien
Female
19 years old
Tucson

It is an amazing program, that I was fortunate enough to be involved in.

10/10

On a day to day basis, I would teach in the school, build part of a fagone, eat lunch at a random families home, play with the kids and hang out at home. At night my family always sat around the fire and talked until bed and ate dinner. It was definitly an amazing experience. We got to do some really cool things that the people of Paraguay do such as make chipa, work in the fields, peal oranges a cool way, cook and play. I wish I could do it again.

lilypetroff
Female
19 years old
San Jose, California
University of California- Berkeley

Pack Me In Your Suitcase

10/10

The translucent curtain of rain draped across the sky until it dropped onto the earth like a spilled box of pins and needles. Sloshing through pools of red mud and water, my tennis shoes unlaced, and I fell socks-first into a puddle. I hastily gathered the muddied shoes into my arms and sprinted down the moonlit streets, the villagers and I seeking shelter as dogs howled behind us.
We tumbled our way into the bedroom and crowded against each other on the creaking beds. “¡Encienda la tv!” Marciano called, as someone switched on the tiny black box so we could watch Paraguay play Uruguay in the semi-finals of Copa de Latin America. I looked around the room at the people: an old man chattering his teeth in his Paraguay jersey and flip flops, a little boy holding a tin pot over his head pit-pattering with droplets, and a woman breast-feeding her newborn baby. A group of people I had never met were now sharing a cup of tea with me and keeping each other warm from the rain.
Suddenly, everything shut off: the TV and all the lights in the entire house, the entire town. We sat in the silence of the pitch-black room, the only sound, the crisp inhales and moist exhales of our bodies. Thirty seconds later all the lights turned back on, illuminating Jackie, the puppy, taking a gigantic poop right in the middle of the floor.
In that instant I thought back to my family in America. I imagined my black Labrador, defecating on our brand new carpet while we had guests over. I cringed thinking about the chaos that would result from such an act, my mom angry and embarrassed, my siblings and I blaming whoever let the dog in, and my dad rushing to clean up the turd. I sat there on the bed with all those people, anticipating a situation all too awkward yet familiar.
Something else happened instead and is the reason why Jackie’s dump keeps resurfacing in my mind long after I have returned home. Instead of bedlam, I saw my host mother and host sister look at each other briefly, their eyes squint, knees buckle, and grab hold of each other as their bodies smacked against the wall piercing the silence with laughter. It was laughter so deafening, animated, and joyful it was beautiful, so infectious that rest of the room burst into tears howling.
Back home I have encountered many more “crappy” situations, ones that previously would have induced stress or anxiety or anger. However, the memory of Jackie and the laughter of the Paraguayan people allow me to evaluate situations for what they really are and choose to react positively. Their reaction to Jackie’s simple inconvenience and their forgiving attitudes have inspired me to be forgiving as well. Who would have known that a puppie poo could have showed me that an opportunity for something good presents itself in every situation.

Lauren
Female
19 years old
Houston, TX

Rohayhu Paraguay

9/10

Project staff was amazing. I honestly don't think my summer would have been as great without them. And with Suhaly being the Senior PD, you are in the best hands possible. Just remember trankilopa and getting stuff done will clash these 8 weeks, but make every moment count and meet everyone you can.

Tierney
Female
19 years old
San Francisco

vet vol

10/10

I went to San Pedro and had the time of my life. I loved it there and it was the best experience I have ever had. I changed my outlook on life and made me appreciate what I have. My partner and I became very close and we still talk everyday. I created such strong bonds with my community members and my family from watching music videos for hours or dancing around the school singing. I will never forget the impact that my summer in Paraguay gave me. I will always have those memories and those unbreakable bonds.

Nellie
Female
19 years old
Petaluma, California

The most amazing, enjoyable experience I've ever had!

10/10

I spent my time in Paraguay in a small rural community of about 300+ people. I conducted camps for elementary school age kids, and worked on a reforestation project. Together with community members we also constructed two bus stops. I fell completely in love with the culture and the country! Everyday was filled with lots of terere and mate drinking (the most delicious tea there is) and visiting with the people. It was a laid back culture, but there was always something to do. I miss it everyday and I would do it again in a heartbeat! Rohayhu Paraguay!!!!!

About The Provider

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Established in 1965, AMIGOS is an industry leader providing international leadership experiences for youth. We provide high school and college-age volunteers with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the language and daily lives of a host community, bringing that community together to to determine, plan,

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