Foundation Offers Summer Spanish Immersion

Harris Sahar and Aly Fosbury, Staff Writers

3 Campo students took trips to Central and South America this summer through the Amigos de las América Foundation, immersing themselves in a foreign culture while performing community service.

Amigos de las América is a Houston, Texas non-profit organization founded in 1965. The organization sends high school and college students to Central and South America to help communities and absorb the culture.

Junior Ava Narayan, senior Sam Garcia, and senior Jim Cimino were the 3 students from Campolindo that participated in the program.

Each volunteer must be at least 16 years old, have completed sophomore year, have finished at least 2 years of high school Spanish, and must fulfill the fundraising requirements. The second half of the process includes attending an information session in September or October, going to a family interview in October, participating with fundraising by selling food, and writing fundraising letters in January.

Garcia traveled to Central America from June 26 to July 20 through the scholarship program. In addition to all the requirements, she had to write essays in both Spanish and English and attend interviews, speaking in both languages.

About the trip, Garcia said, “It taught me a lot about being culturally sensitive. I have a lot of new friends that I communicate with over Facebook.” She worked with a variety of volunteer groups, specifically Cadi, an after school program for girls.

Naryan traveled to Matagalpa, Nicaragua. “My favorite part of the experience was spending so much time with my host family and the people in my community. Since my community was so small I really formed strong bonds with the people there,” she said.

Naryan helped facilitate a community based project by renovating a communal house. Although she was anxious about the trip, she looked forward to improving her Spanish. “The biggest thing that I would take away from it was the cultural immersion. The lifestyle there was so different, slower and more simple, and the people that I met were honestly the most amazing people I’ve met in my entire life,” she explained.

Vice principal Sharon Bartlett witnessed many of her students participate in the Amigos program while she taught at Campolindo from 1992-2005. Students often learned about the program from teachers, specifically Spanish teachers. According to Bartlett, they do good work, from establishing clean water projects to building schools.