The AllPeopleBeHappy Foundation, a long-time partner of Amizade, helped us increase our reach with virtual programs in 2021. Thanks to this partnership, two distinct groups of youth, one from Jamaica and the other one from Brazil participated in two distinct programs designed specifically for them. The programs allowed them to experience the power of Amizade’s virtual service-learning. They met and engaged in meaningful discussions with our community partners worldwide, worked on service projects with local organizations, and made lasting memories.
With our long-standing Jamaica partner, the Petersfield Galloway Benevolent Society (PGBS), we co-facilitated a program with youth from The Petersfield High School in Westmoreland Parish, Jamaica. The solid relationship between the PGBS and high school allowed us to recruit students from the same institution, which we have learned helps keep students engaged during the program and allows for more continuity beyond program completion. We were incredibly fortunate to work with high school staff, Mr. Vaz and Ms. Mckenzie. Through their efforts, we were able to work with a group of last-year students who were eager and excited to engage with people from other parts of the world. The program ran for three weeks, and together, we ‘traveled’ to three Amizade community partner sites.
We met three days a week and ran sessions for two and a half hours. During this time, we engaged with Amizade partners in Italy, Puerto Rico, and Pine Ridge. Partners shared cultural information and provided students opportunities to reflect and compare and contrast with their own realities. In addition to the cultural engagement, the program allowed students to strengthen and build cohesion among themselves, something that Mr. Vaz and Ms. Mckenzie said they greatly appreciated about the experience.
Students were split into two groups to complete digital service projects during the three weeks. One group worked with the PGBS on a project to support their efforts to recruit youth and increase membership. Another group supported the Petersfield High School’s efforts to re-engage students who have stopped attending school since going virtual.
Despite the challenges the group faced with connectivity, the program was a great success. The group built relationships and connected in meaningful ways. Not only did we end the program with a greater appreciation for the world we live in, but with a new group of friends as well!
In Brazil, with the help of Amizade partners’ recruitment, we led the group of young students through a journey to learn the specifics of the healthcare system in the US, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Italy, and New Zealand. The participants were early college students from UEPA’s School of Health and high school students from Santarem’s public network. This unique opportunity served to break many stereotypes that these individuals had, mainly about the United States: a country perceived in Latin America as exempt from social problems.
“Having participated in this Amizade program helped me as a professional, gaining knowledge of the health field, and also as a citizen, learning about others’ cultures. In this opportunity, I learned some basics of other health care systems and how they were affected by the pandemic. Still, I found concepts that I had never heard of, such as health tourism in Italy and the existence of Native American nations in the US! And as a wrap-up, I had the opportunity to meet in person Amizade’s community partner, APAE Santarém, and all their wide range of projects. No doubt, it was all worth it.” -a student at UEPA’s school of health in Santarem, Brazil
The virtual program ended with students presenting to local high school teachers and college professors what they learned in this experience and with a morning of activities put together with the help of our local partner APAE. At their facilities, students saw firsthand the work done in the community of Santarem, in particular with children with disabilities assisted by the organization.
Amizade thanks the AllPeopleBeHappy Foundation for the incredible support for these programs, and we hope to continue this partnership.
Find out more about Amizade’s virtual service-learning programs here.