The purple AFS Volunteer ribbons (pictured above right) were posted in honor of United Nations International Volunteer Day, celebrated on December 5th of this year. These ribbons were used during the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the post- World War II AFS Exchange Programs. Many of the anniversary events took place in New York City in the summer of 1997 (fifty years after the arrival of the first AFS secondary school students to the United States), including a celebration at the Manhattan Center, a party at the Rockefeller Center, and the “Old Timers Dinner” at the United Nations, which was attended by AFS Drivers, Trustees, and early Participants. At the various events, ribbons of different colors were attached to the nametags to highlight the various roles AFSers often play within the organization. As we discovered from the photographs contained in the AFS Archives (such as this one), many event attendees had multiple ribbons, showing their dedicated involvement to AFS.
AFS started as a volunteer organization in World War I, when 2,500 Americans volunteered as ambulance and camion drivers in France and the Balkans. Although the organization has since developed different methods of volunteerism, the volunteer spirit of AFSers is the same today as it was nearly 100 years ago. Today, AFS is able to continue its programs thanks to the help of dedicated volunteers around the world. In 2013 alone, there were more than 43,000 volunteers supporting AFS Participants in their life-changing experiences abroad. Visit http://centennial.afs.org/effect for more information!