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updated: 9/16/2013 11:47 AM

COMMUNITY SERVICE IN LATIN AMERICA: HOW FOURTEEN SUBURBAN HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS SPENT THEIR SUMMER

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  • Prospect High School senior, Alexandra Wilson, with 3 children from Las Minas, Dominican Republic.

      Prospect High School senior, Alexandra Wilson, with 3 children from Las Minas, Dominican Republic.
    Catherine Crane of Tucson, AZ

 
Kay Wilson

Amigos de las Américas (AMIGOS) Chicago North Chapter is proud to announce the return of 14 suburban high school students from service projects in Latin America. The 14 volunteers joined more than 500 other teenagers and young adults from across the United States and other countries for up to eight weeks this summer to volunteer on public health, education and environmental projects in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, and Peru.

The volunteers, ages 16 through 18, attend Evanston Township High School, Glenbrook North High School(Northbrook), Lake Forest High School, North Shore Country Day School(Winnetka), Prospect High School(Mt Prospect), and the Chicagoland Jewish High School(Deerfield). Three of the volunteers have graduated and are freshman at UW-Madison, Boston University, and Beloit College.

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While in country, the volunteers were paired with partner volunteers from around the United States or another Latin American country. Two or three AMIGOS volunteers live in each community with different host families. Often likened to a mini-Peace Corps, the volunteers work with their communities to identify and implement community based initiatives such as construction of libraries, playgrounds, latrines, community gardens, fuel-efficient stoves, water storage tanks, bus stops, recycling systems or health education programs. Volunteers also led youth-to-youth projects to promote healthy social development, improve leadership skills and foster creative expression of young people in their host communities.

The Volunteers trained and fundraised for months to prepare for their community service assignments in Latin America. The AMIGOS training program provided the Volunteers with the skills needed to meet the challenges of conducting community service programs with confidence and cultural sensitivity, both in their home communities and in Latin America.

Founded in 1965, AMIGOS is an international non-profit organization that provides opportunities for young people to simultaneously develop leadership and decision-making skills while making a positive difference in the health and well being of communities.

"For many volunteers, their summer in Latin America is a life-changing event, challenging them to view the world in new ways and providing them with unparalleled leadership skills." says a parent of a former chapter volunteer who went on to serve as a project staff member in the Dominican Republic and Project Director in Costa Rica. Prospect High School senior, Alexandra Wilson, says, "My experience in the Dominican Republic immersed me in a completely different culture and gave me a new perspective on my life and world events."

For information on how students can participate in next summer's program, please visit the AMIGOS website: www.amigoslink.org (View descriptive program video) and www.amigoslink.org/chicagonorth for a schedule of upcoming October Information Sessions and application deadlines. Interested students, along with a parent or guardian, should attend an October Information Session.

Please note that interviews and selection of Summer 2014 Volunteers all take place in November 2013. Partial financial needs-based scholarships are available.

Please direct inquiries to amigoschicagonorth@gmail.com.

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