Bon Voyage, Boy Child

I anticipated that yesterday might be the hardest day of my adult life.
Mr. Blitch and I took our 16 year old son to PDX at O2:30 for a flight to Panama.
HH’s first time out of the country (other than Canada, but really ~ Most kids from the PNW get up to Canada at some point).
A first very hard ‘Farewell’ for us as parents.

Our Boy is traveling with an amazing organization: Amigos De Las Americas.
Participants from across the US, and from 8 Latin American countries have been preparing for this adventure over the last many months.
The Core Components of the Amigos program include:
1) Training  (pre-departure training in health & safety, community development practices, personal leadership, and cultural understanding (about 100 hours for this training).
2) Language & Cultural Immersion
3) Youth-Led Community Service
4) Mentorship
5) Reflection & Continued Engagement
6) Health & Safety

Mr. Blitch and I have tremendous faith and trust with this group ~ enough so we were willing to let our One & Only pursue this major life journey. We were terrified, but also beyond proud of our kid for wanting to do this.

Group photo of the Portland Amigos participants at the farewell gathering:
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The Amigos program offers these young people the opportunity to travel to small or medium-sized communities where they will live with a host family, facilitate extracurricular activities for children & youth in their host community, and learn the process of planning and implementing a community development project.

2o17 Amigos project placement sites
* Dominican Republic (San Juan)
Theme: Civic Participation
* Costa Rica (Pérez Zeledón)
Theme: Environmental Sustainability
* Nicaragua (Madrid)
Theme: Civic Participation
* Nicaragua (Matagalpa)
Theme: Public Health
* Ecuador (Chimborazo)
Theme: Youth Entrepreneurship
* Paraguay (Guairá)
Theme: Public Health
* Colombia (Barranquilla)
Themes: Global Health, Engineering, Social Transformation
* Panama (Coclé)
Theme: Environmental Sustainability
* Panama (Azuero)
Theme: Environmental Sustainability (Azuero is where our boy, HH, will spend the next 7 weeks)

So, after months of participant training, and the amazing support and guidance we received from the Portland Chapter Amigos Volunteer Board members… we took our HH to PDX at 0300 for his departure.

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Part of what one signs on to as the parent of an Amigos participant, is that you say your Fare-Thee-Well at the airport, and then agree to an official No News Really IS Good News” policy. We know that HH will have one opportunity to call us, about midway through the 7 weeks he will be gone.
One phone call.

There is one other individual who is missing HH tremendously. His sweetheart, Mz. Ivy.
She had been away visiting family in Idaho during the last several days prior to HH leaving the country. They had one last, quick, visit prior to his departure.
They got matching haircuts….


And finally, as parents of the Amigos 2017 travelers, we are treated to occasional glimpses of the participants via Instagram. (“amigosazuero”)
I had one year of college Spanish, about 25 years ago, so I had to look up the translation for this amazing glimpse of my kid:

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We are very proud of our caring supervisors. Have left for their first week of route!
We are friends2017

HH is on the far right, sporting his treasured Billy Joel cap.

I cannot quite put my feelings or emotions into words at the moment.
An acutely uncomfortable mixture of pride, irrational fear, excitement, and terror. Something like that.

Holding my son, and all the other Amigos in my heart, and in the Light.



2 thoughts on “Bon Voyage, Boy Child

  1. I’ve known that Panama was in the future for HH… seeing that he’s there now makes my throat feel dry and tight. How are the parents of the boy handling this open space / empty arms ?


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