Amigos de las Americas - Paraguay

This program is no longer offered. View more programs from Amigos de las Americas.

Video and Photos


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.

May 15 - Application Deadline

The deadline to apply for Session B summer programs in Latin America and the online Community Impact Project is May 15th. Apply ASAP!

Questions & Answers


9.61 Rating
based on 18 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 94.44%
  • 7-8 rating 0%
  • 5-6 rating 5.56%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Impact 8.9
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 8.9
  • Value 9.1
  • Safety 9.7
  • Program Selection 10
  • Pre-departure Help 10
  • In-program Support 9
  • Impact on Student 10
  • Value 10
Showing 1 - 8 of 18
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Yes, I recommend this program

Parent Perspective

My daughter participated in the Amigos de las Americas program as a senior in high school. She went to Paraguay for six weeks to be fully immersed in a new culture and gain knowledge about the world. The local training for months prior helped her to feel more confident about what she might experience once in Latin America. She ended up having a health issue and returned home early from the program. The level of health and safety in place through Amigos was stellar. As a parent I am now fully invested in the program because of how this situation was addressed. I feel 100% confident sending local youth through the Amigos program. I have stayed very involved with the organization for the past 8 years and see this as a top program in the US! Amigos is an experience than will impact youth for years after they participate.

What would you improve about this program?
Be able to spread the word throughout the US about the impact this program has on youth.
1 person found this review helpful.
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Rachel Massey
Yes, I recommend this program

My First Experience Abroad

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!

What would you improve about this program?
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!
1 person found this review helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Summer of my life

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.

What would you improve about this program?
I believe it could be improved by making it more affordable or including a lot more scholarships
1 person found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

It was hard..

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'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 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" 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 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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
1 person found this review helpful.
Response from

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

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Yes, I recommend this program

The most fulfilling summer of my life

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.

1 person found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

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

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.

1 person found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Decision I Ever Made

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!

1 person found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Rohayhu Paraguay

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!

1 person found this review helpful.