Partners of the Americas originated in 1964 under President John F. Kennedy’s administration. “Partnering” states in America with Latin American countries enabled the two to form friendships, cultural exchanges, and assistance in various forms. Under this program, Oregon was partnered with Costa Rica. The original exchanges were between businessmen and politicians but then expanded to include senior citizen, teacher and student programs.
In 1966, Mrs. Margaret Byers, a Salem Spanish teacher, took five boys and five girls for a few weeks to stay in Costa Rica. A few years later, the Partners Of The Americas Oregon-Costa Rica High School Exchange Program began. It has expanded to two full months and up to 25 students.
Partners of the Americas is a non-profit organization made up of several committees of volunteers: students, teachers, schools, business people, professionals and families–all interested in promoting increased understanding and cooperation between Oregon and Costa Rica.