HOW TO APPLY
How to apply:
The AMIGOS Marin Chapter is part of a 25 Chapter Network that recruits, trains, and supports AMIGOS volunteers and families in their local community. Our chapter accepts participants during the fall prior to each summer experience. During the months of November through May, Marin Chapter participants will take part in local training and fundraising events as they prepare for their AMIGOS experience.
The Marin Chapter has been in existence since 1971. Anne Kimball of Marin was the first and the only Marin teenager to travel to Central America with AMIGOS in the summer of 1970 to conduct inoculation clinics in Honduras. She commuted to San Mateo that year to train, but the following year her enthusiasm led her to the enlistment of 15 Marin teens and the formation of the Marin Chapter. Since then, we have sent nearly 1,000 participants into the field!
AMIGOS is a leader in international youth development, creating a world in which young people realize their full potential as leaders and global citizens. We provide extraordinary opportunities for youth to design and lead projects in collaboration with US and Latin American peers and partner organizations across the Americas. Our strong partner network, built over 50 years, enables authentic engagements in communities across the region.
Marin Volunteers Attend:
Branson • Credo • Marin Catholic • Novato High • Redwood High • San Domenico • San Marin • San Rafael High • Sir Francis Drake • Tamalpais High • Tamiscal High
Marin Volunteer testimonials:
My Experience with Amigos de las Américas
Jamie Ball – Marin Chapter
Why I picked AMIGOS
I picked Amigos de las Américas as my program for cross-cultural exchange because of its unique visions and goals for both the participants and the in-country communities. AMIGOS is different than any other program for a number of reasons. The first reason is the intensive training program that prepares students for their cross-cultural experiences. Throughout the training, AMIGOS emphasizes the importance of cultural sensitivity, and how to effectively communicate and develop relationships with fellow community members. Another reason why AMIGOS is unique is the rare opportunity of complete cultural (including linguistic) immersion. The concept of being completely immersed in the Spanish language, and a new culture, was both daunting and appealing. I knew it would force me to make new connections and relationships with my community members rather than hide in the shadows of other English-speaking participants. I ultimately chose Amigos de las Américas because of its goals, visions, and values.
What I did
In 2014, I had the incredible opportunity of spending 7 weeks in rural Paraguay, in a small community called Caraguatay Gazu [care-a-guat-ay-ooh ga-zooh]. During our time in our community, my partner and I introduced ourselves to everyone and explained who we were and what we were doing there. We hosted a community meeting one rainy day and asked everyone what they envisioned as a community-based project that we could all work on and complete by the end of our visit. They decided on protecting the community’s water supply from animal contamination. In addition to collaborating on our community-based initiative project, we held daily camps with the school children every morning and afternoon with weekly themes such as environmental sustainability, working in teams, self-empowerment and more. In our free time, my partner and I made lifelong friendships and relationships with our community and family. We danced every night of the week, we played soccer, we learned how to cook, and we learned how to do specific chores such as harvest firewood or yucca from the fields.
What was great about the experience
One of the best parts about the AMIGOS experience was breaking out of the Marin bubble and experiencing a new way of life. Paraguayans are without a doubt the happiest, most accepting people I have ever met. I always felt extremely safe in my community and always felt like I was surrounded by family. One day my partner and I were walking down the street and a woman we had never met before stopped us for a chat and invited us over for lunch, already referring to us as her daughters. The amount of compassion and respect in the relationships between everyone in my community was an incredible part of my AMIGOS experience.
What I learned/how I grew
I would not be the person I am today without my AMIGOS experience. Living in Paraguay opened my eyes and heart to a new way of life with different values and priorities. I learned to appreciate family on a new level, and more so now than ever, my family is the most important thing in my life. I became much more grateful for my ability to receive an education, and live in an area where there is so much opportunity and I have the freedom to study, work, and live where I choose. My experience helped me to grow and develop as an individual to become more independent, confident, and organized. Learning skills such as integrating myself into a new community, public speaking, and taking on immense responsibility completely changed who I am. I am so appreciative of how AMIGOS helped me mature, and develop a better understanding of what I should prioritize in order to live a happy life. I now attend the University of Victoria, pursuing a B.Sc. double major in environmental studies and geography with a potential minor in education. Teaching kids in Paraguay about themes like environmental sustainability made me realize how much I love the subject and how much I love sharing my knowledge with other people, and learning from them in return. It has been over three years since living in Paraguay, and I still think about it every day. This program, and the opportunities it offers to students, are more valuable than I could ever express, and continue to influence the way I live my life today.
Grace Nakashima – Marin Chapter
What I did
In 2017, I went to Azuero, Panamá for 7 weeks. I lived with two other partners in a small rural community of about 100 people, which you can see in the video I made. The theme of the Azuero Project was Environmental Sustainability and we had the phenomenal opportunity to work with the Panamanian Environment Ministry. The majority of our time in community we spent working and teaching at the primary school of 9 kids. I danced (a lot), learned to cook Panamanian dishes (they thought I was studying gastronomy), and made amazing connections with the kids, the parents, and the grandparents. Our community- based action project was the communal construction of a basketball court so the kids could safely play outside and have P.E and dance lessons on a flat surface.
What was great about the experience
I got to be myself. There were no imposed or unreal expectations. The program benefits were based solely on how I interacted with people. My supervisor encouraged me to take initiative and I gained confidence in my decision making. The challenging parts are the things you really learn from; you take them as they are and work with them! The program activities were a beautiful outlet for learning Spanish and making friendships. I met 3 teenage boys who had never had a friend that was a girl. I met a mother with 3 boys ages 6, 10, and 14. I got to be one of her daughters. I discovered the drastic differences and also the similarities between our two cultures. If you can’t tell… I had a wonderful experience.
What I learned / How I grew
People are people wherever you go. No matter if you are in the most rural area or the most urban, around the wealthiest or poorest people, in the US or in Panama, people experience the same emotions and challenges. I learned kids are a strong and powerful force in enacting change for future generations and they hold so much potential. All you have to do is put in the effort to encourage them. I learned that “10 seconds is all it takes;” 10 seconds of courage can accomplish great things. I’m very thankful my family members were supportive and loving throughout my whole experience. For new Amigos, please enter with an open mind. Throw all your expectations out the window and attempt to embrace the experience fully. My story is mine and you will create your own; everyone has a different experience and gains different things but I can assure you will never regret choosing to commit to AMIGOS. They truly care for their participants and you are in good hands. Buena Suerte!
FEES & FUNDING
The Marin Chapter covers AMIGOS program costs through a combination of product sales, donor contacts through an online campaign, and a family fee contribution. We chose these activities to maximize our ability to provide the AMIGOS experience to all volunteers without regard to family financial circumstances. All volunteers are required to fully take part in each fundraising activity as fundraising skills are an important component of AMIGOS training program and raise awareness of AMIGOS programs in the community.
AMIGOS Marin volunteers raise funds through the sale of grapefruit, poinsettias, and chocolate. This effort primarily takes place in November and December, with follow-up phone calling in the spring. Students receive considerable help with regard to sales strategies, and the experience gained in this effort will build important skills.
Students who apply by November 4th have the option to participate in full product sales ($1,500) or a half level of product sales ($750). Applying after November 4th have a higher family fee, which includes the cost of the missed product sales option.
Each volunteer will set up a fundraising web page and send letters via email to friends, family, and other contacts, requesting individual tax-deductible donations (the revenue from this effort is pooled). Ample support is provided at each step of the process. Each volunteer’s fundraising goal is $1,750.
Additional funding opportunities
All alumni interested in volunteering again with AMIGOS qualify to apply for the Alumni Award. More info here.
Family Fee (Apply by November 4, 2019 and participate in product sales fundraising): $4,250
Family Fee (Apply after November 4th but by January 10th or decline participating in product sales): $5,750
Application Fee: $50 (Non-refundable and not included in the Family Fee.)
- Round-trip international airfare
- Training materials and workshops
- Secondary short-term international medical insurance
- Program excursions
- Food, lodging, and transportation in Latin America
- Supplies for community project and extracurricular activities
- 24-hour On Call Emergency Management System
- Travel hotline and support
Click here for more information about our Fees & Funding.
DUE DATES AND PAYMENT OPTIONS
- Participants pay their family fees beginning in November. The full fee must be paid by April.
- Fees can be paid online or by mail.
- Payment plans are available.
AMIGOS actively recruits and supports inclusion of volunteers from diverse backgrounds. AMIGOS provides needs-based financial assistance with distribution determined by family income, number of dependents and special financial circumstances. We provide amounts of $250–$2,000 to qualified applicants as deductions to the family fee. Students must participate fully in all chapter fundraising efforts.
The transformative AMIGOS experience starts before leaving home.
With 50 years of experience preparing young people for travel and service abroad, AMIGOS training offers unparalleled global youth leadership development. Pre-departure training equips volunteers with the critical thinking, communication skills, and technical knowledge they need to make a meaningful impact across cultures while staying healthy and safe. The Marin Chapter AMIGOS training is youth-led, experiential learning that prepares students for their AMIGOS experience, builds a community of youth and families with shared values, and develops life-skills to help volunteers succeed beyond AMIGOS.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TRAINING PROGRAM INCLUDE:
- Unparalleled leadership development
- Cross-cultural awareness and understanding
- Hands-on training for technical aspects of the program
- Extensive health and safety training
- Opportunities to practice Spanish
- Creating a community of young people with shared values
TRAINING CALENDAR AND IMPORTANT DATES
Unless otherwise specified, all meetings are held at the Elks Lodge, 1312 Mission Avenue, San Rafael. Parking is behind the lodge; please follow signs.
Saturday, November 9 – Welcome & Fundraising Kickoff Meeting/
1:00 – 4:00 pm
Parents attend entire meeting
Saturday, December 7 – Grapefruit and poinsettia unloading and delivery
Redwood High School east parking lot
7:00 am unloading; deliveries may take 1-2 days or more
Sunday, January 12 – Welcome and Orientation
1:00 – 4:30 pm
Parents attend 1:00 – 2:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday, January 25 & 26 – Overnight retreat
Point Bonita YMCA
10:00 am Saturday – 12:00 pm Sunday
Sunday, February 9 – Letter/online fundraising workshop
1:00 – 4:00 pm
Sunday, March 1 – Training
10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Parents attend 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Sunday, March 15 – Training
10:00 – 3:00 pm
Sunday, April 26 – Training
10:00 – 3:00 pm
Sunday, May 17 – Final Training and Despedida
10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Parents attend 1:30 – 3:00
Sunday, August 16 – Welcome Home Party and Debrief
2:00 – 4:00
Parents attend entire event
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Learn more about the AMIGOS experience through the stories of our 2018 alumni:
Relive the adventures of AMIGOS 2018 through this beautiful slideshow!