Intercultural understanding is a powerful and productive tool for building a more just and peaceful world.
At AFS, we are united by our commitment to our learning to live together philosophy. We embrace differences and believe our world is stronger and more interesting because of them.
The AFS community–more than 1 million alumni, volunteers, staff worldwide–knows first-hand that global citizenship education empowers people of all ages and backgrounds. Whether we have volunteered, studied abroad ourselves, hosted a student from a different country, or sent a child on an exchange program, we know the transformative, illuminating impact that education across cultures can have. It can make our worldviews grow bigger and brighter. And it can help us learn to appreciate our differences as real strengths.
And yet, around the world today, we also witness the flipsides of greater global interconnectedness: selective exposure or the echo-chamber (only seeing and hearing who and what we want to see and hear) and too many superficial encounters. As the world virtually and physically knocks ever more insistently on our doors, we must actively acknowledge and address our differences.
Thank you to all the volunteers, educators, and youth around the world who act as responsible global citizens working for peace and understanding in a diverse world. Thank you for contributing to your communities in small and large ways every single day.
Let’s join together in our movement to help the world learn to live and thrive together.
by Daniel Obst, President & CEO of AFS Intercultural Programs
This week, two important occasions are marked around the world to celebrate the power of education. Global Education Week (12-20 November 2016) is a Europe-wide awareness-raising event, which encourages educators and learners to explore educational activities for global citizenship. It takes place in formal and non-formal educational settings across the continent, launched by the Council of Europe. Similarly, International Education Week (14-18 November 2016) celebrates the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. Today, this joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education is marked annually in more than 100 countries throughout the world.
AFS Intercultural Programs champions both Global and International Education Week worldwide by continuing to advocate for intercultural education as a means for people to learn to live together, better understand themselves and the world around them. We underscore our commitment to intercultural learning as a powerful tool for creating more just and peaceful societies.
AFS continues to prepare and empower future leaders, global citizens and changemakers with essential 21st century intercultural skills to engage, lead and collaborate effectively in an increasingly diverse world. Our international study abroad and volunteer programs include research-based intercultural learning journeys, all supported and facilitated by 48,000 trained AFS volunteers around the world.