Since 1915, AFS has dared to make a positive impact on the world through volunteerism, exchange programs, intercultural learning and changemaking efforts. Today, an international community of more than 1 million global citizens continues to build bridges among cultures, daring to create change. Here’s our story, starting with now…

 

2016

AFS launched its first Sustainability Challenge to encourage AFSers around the world to learn how to be more green.

AFS introduced the AFS Student Learning Journey & Curriculum and the AFS Host Family Intercultural Learning Journey. These innovative intercultural learning programs, facilitated by trained volunteers, help students and families take their first steps as global citizens—educated and empowered to live, work, volunteer and make a difference.

AFS publishes The Volunteers: Americans Join World War I, 1914-1919 curriculum. This free secondary school curriculum for teachers worldwide helps students analyze the history of World War I through the lens of this volunteer service. It also encourages students to engage in volunteerism.

AFS launched the Educator & School Relations initiative to strengthen its partnerships with education allies in communities and with national education authorities. Our goal is to advance intercultural learning and global citizenship education in local schools and communities.

The American Field Service volunteer ambulance corps is featured in a museum exhibition on international volunteerism during World War I, which opened at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri (USA).

 

2015

AFS embraces the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. AFS is focusing on Goals 4 and 16,  which target education and reinforce our commitment to educating global citizens (4) to help build a more just and peaceful world (16).

AFS honored the American Field Service and our 100-year tradition of volunteerism by establishing the AFS Changemakers Awards, highlighting our commitment to creative community social impact projects.

AFS entered into a “consultative status” partnership with UNESCO, which enables both organizations to collaborate on initiatives of mutual interest and social good.

The AFS Youth Volunteer Forum was held in Buenos Aires, organized by AFS Argentina with AFS International. Fifty young AFSers from 24 countries collaborated to develop recommendations entitled “Empowering Young People for a Bigger, Better, Stronger AFS,” which was submitted to the AFS Board of Trustees.

From Trenches to Bridges” 2015 Youth Forum in Alsace brought 200 young people from 43 nationalities to Strasbourg, France to learn about volunteerism and active global citizenship from World War I to the present day. It was organized by AFS France, Germany, and Switzerland, with the assistance of AFS International.

The AFS organizations in Africa formed a new partnership, AFS in Africa (AIA) to enable AFSers in Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Tunisia to better support and work with each other, as well as grow and develop their intercultural learning programs.

AFS established a subsidiary, Sentio, Global Education Network, to provide quality global education programs to young adults, such as internships, volunteer and study abroad, as well as language learning opportunities.

 

2014

AFS helps advance the global citizenship education movement by convening the AFS Global Intercultural Education Symposium–Learning to Live Together: From Ideas to Action and 100 Years Young!: Youth Workshop & Symposium at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. Similar events continue to be organized on a regional level in Latin America and the Asia-Pacific.

AFS launches the year-long celebration of the centennial of the American Field Service in Paris, where the volunteer ambulance and camion corps was founded during World War I. This included AFS history exhibitions in various countries.

AFS introduces the Intercultural Learning in Our Own Backyard awards to honor projects initiated by AFS organizations around the world that use intercultural learning for social impact projects designed to bring communities together.

 

2012

AFS initiates the AFS Academy, a cross-disciplinary training event for our volunteers and staff working to make AFS better at building intercultural competence for a more just and peaceful world.

 

2011

AFS initiates the AFS Intercultural Link Learning Program, which prepares volunteers and staff to guide students, host families and new volunteers through their personal AFS intercultural learning experiences.

 

2009

The first Forum on Intercultural Learning and Exchange (FILE) organized by the European Foundation for Intercultural Learning (EFIL), Fondazione Intercultura (AFS Italy), and AFS Intercultural Programs is convened for researchers, practitioners and experts in the field of international youth exchange and intercultural learning to share research, insights and experiences on the educational impact, success stories and obstacles for enhancing exchange programs.

 

2008

The European Federation of Intercultural Learning (EFIL) organizes the first Volunteer Summer Summit, an international conference and training for AFS volunteers to share best practices and new ideas to improve the volunteer contributions and experience.

Intercultural Dialogue Day (the last Thursday in September) was launched by the European Federation for Intercultural Learning (EFIL) encouraging AFS volunteers to find creative ways to promote intercultural dialogue in their local communities.

 

2007

AFS celebrates the 60th anniversary of the secondary school exchange programs with events around the world, including a World Peace Forum at Columbia University in New York City

 

1989

AFS begins evolving into an international partnership of member organizations. As of 2016, AFS has 59 membership organizations in 60 countries.

 

1984

AFS affirms its commitment to intercultural learning and formally defines its Educational Goals that continue to be the foundation of our study abroad, training, orientation, learning and assessment programs and research.   

 

1971

The European Federation for Intercultural Learning (EFIL) was created to support AFS organizations in Europe and promote active citizenship within the context of intercultural education among their participants, volunteers and staff.

The AFS Multinational Program is created to expand AFS exchange offerings by allowing students to travel to and from countries other than the United States. This, along with the international expansion of the AFS Board of Trustees the year before, transforms AFS in a global organization.   

 

1966

AFS initiates its Educators’ Program (U.S. Teachers Abroad). Later iterations of the program included a program with the USSR (1972) and China (1982).

 

1950s

AFS students begin the tradition of meeting with national and international leaders as part of their exchange program. Many leaders consider exchanges as effective public diplomacy efforts. This practice started with U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower addressing AFS students in Washington, D.C. and continues until today, when in 2016, AFS students in Argentina met with President Mauricio Macri.

 

1948  

The legendary AFS bus trips are launched with 29 high school and college students who went on a 24-day 5,500 mile bus trip across America. The bus tours expose students to American life beyond their host communities and introduce U.S. citizens to the concept of international student exchanges. The trips also generate lots of interest in becoming host families.

 

1947

The first secondary school students from France, Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, Norway, England, and Syria arrive in the United States on a scholarship program.

 

1946

After witnessing the destruction of two World Wars, AFS Director General Stephen Galatti and AFS drivers from World Wars I and II create the AFS secondary school student exchange program with a noble vision: to help build a more peaceful world by promoting understanding among cultures.

 

1939-1945    

AFS is reactivated as a volunteer ambulance corps shortly after the start of World War II under the leadership of Director General Stephen Galatti. AFS volunteers serve alongside the British and French militaries, evacuating more than 700,000 casualties, including 11,000 former prisoners from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp after its liberation.  

 

1919

The AFS Fellowships for French Universities are established to cultivate peaceful ties between the United States and France, awarding 222 fellowships to French and American graduate students until the program is discontinued in 1952.

 

1915-1917

AFS begins as the American Field Service (first called the American Ambulance Field Service), a volunteer ambulance and camion corps working alongside the French military to transport the wounded during World War I. AFS was created by former director of the U.S. Mint A. Piatt Andrew, and helped pioneer international humanitarian aid for the 20th century.