GREEN Green High Junior Zoe Polacheck has been selected for the Amigos Ambassador Program this summer. This program originated in 1965 when 181 high school students went to Honduras to help with the polio epidemic that was ravaging the country. Since then, the program has evolved and gives students a chance to volunteer abroad.
The program is designed to give students the opportunity to immerse themselves in the country and culture they have been selected for in Central and South America. They work on community service projects and improve their Spanish language skills while living with a host family. More than 28,000 students have taken part in the program since it began in 1965. This year, the program will have students living and working in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaraqua, Panama and Columbia.
For Polacheck, this was a chance to make a difference and help out, along with having the experience of living in a foreign country.
"Our speaker talked about working with the community on public health projects," Polacheck said. "There will be three to four other volunteers where I am at. We haven't met yet but I am looking forward to the trip and the experience. We are expected to have the required language skills. I was interviewed about going to a third world country and they went over some of the rules. We aren't allowed to drive there, and cannot leave our community to travel around. We aren't suppose to pet animals in case they have rabies and bite us. If that happens, they would have to fly us back to the U.S. for the necessary treatment. "
Polacheck will be going to Cocle, Panama, which is an agricultural area. Her trip is scheduled for June 26 through Aug. 8. On arrival, she will meet the other volunteers and her host family.
"Zoe is very service oriented," said her Spanish teacher Amanda Popovich. "She has a strong sense of self reliance and will be an asset to the program. She brings a lot of qualities that will help her out as she works with the people in the area".
"I am looking forward to this challenge," Polacheck said. "The students will be in charge of the program. We will be working with the Panamanian youth to develop a self sustaining program that will last after we leave. It should really be an interesting experience. My parents have been very encouraging throughout the entire process."