Dear AFS Volunteers and AFS Organization Development Teams,
AFS volunteers are critical to educating and empowering people of all ages to take their first steps as global citizens through our study abroad, host family and volunteer programs—supported by structured intercultural learning programs. Your efforts have built a global network of more than 1 million AFSers in all walks of life committed to our mission.
Determined to help build a more just and peaceful world, AFS also relies on your passion and dedication to foster greater intercultural understanding as a powerful tool to bring communities together, address conflicts and build alliances.
That’s why we are so grateful to our 50,000 AFS volunteers who serve as the backbone of our organization. Leveraging perspectives of volunteers who have studied abroad or been part of a host family—and those with completely different backgrounds—is what makes AFS and our programs so strong and effective.
Over the years, we are have learned that one of the most compelling ways to promote the value of study abroad and intercultural learning is through the stories and reflections of our volunteers. The stories you tell, of how your international experience has affected you personally and the impact you have had on your local communities and the world, are truly inspiring. That’s what we call the #AFSeffect. Keep sharing your stories with us and with others in your community.
We also know how much our students, young adults and host families depend on our trained volunteers to acclimate to a new country and culture, welcome a new family member and guide them through their AFS intercultural learning journey.
Many organizations struggle to convince their volunteers to attend training workshops, but AFS volunteers are truly exceptional because you embrace the importance of learning—and believe our participants and families deserve the best support.
As an educational organization, we also enjoy helping volunteers develop lifetime leadership and other professional skills from their AFS experience.
AFS is very honored that so many AFSers lend their time, talent and resources to our organization. Your board service, participation in working groups, support and donations keep AFS strong and growing. Our Future AFS initiative was launched earlier this year to help broaden our reach and deepen our impact. Volunteers like you will help us achieve this goal.
Thank you to our amazing volunteers, the winners of our AFS Volunteer Awards and the AFS Organization Development teams around the world who make this magic happen. Our founders, the volunteer American Field Service ambulance drivers, would be proud of your contributions, accomplishments and dedication.
by Daniel Obst, President & CEO of AFS Intercultural Programs