by Andrew Woods-Ballard, Business Development Specialist at the AFS Sentio Network
AFS Global Prep programs offer short-term, theme-based, group experiences that address issues of importance to young people while facilitating their growth as global citizens. More than two dozen programs are available now.
AFS Global Prep experiences were originally developed in response to the increasingly limited time availability of a generation with a passion for changing their world, and parental scrutiny of investment in their children’s education. As such, the programs have content-rich itineraries, aiming to fulfil the desire to study or travel abroad with limited time, whilst giving participants a competitive edge for college applications and/or careers through personal development opportunities.
A diverse range of themes form the basis of the programs, which may focus on one or more topics from STEM (science, technology engineering and mathematics) to history, art to culture, geography to linguistics and volunteering to sustainable development. Importantly, as with all AFS programs, there is also a structured intercultural learning component, ensuring increased global competence of the participants.
As well as taking individuals as participants, AFS Global Prep programs can also meet curricular needs for faculty-led programs from schools or universities to form part of a broader internationalisation strategy. This makes them ideal as a tool for schools wishing to increase their PISA scores.
Who can take part in AFS Global Prep?
AFS Global Prep groups are culturally diverse coming from the 60+ countries where AFS has offices. Participants range in age from 13 to 18 years old, and include anyone who is interested in getting a taste of cultural immersion and the programs AFS has to offer.
When do these programs happen?
AFS Global Prep programs run all year round, with possibilities to run programs whenever there is enough interest. Right now, short summer programs are the most popular ones – check out a selection here.
What do the participants say?
Participants not only gain from the experience and immersion, but also from the intercultural groups they are part of.
“I have to say that this was better (far better) than I expected and I expected a lot. I knew that it would be a great experience because I would meet a lot of different people, cultures and history. This was definitely the best experience I’ve had.”
— AFS Global Prep Participant from Bosnia to Germany
“This experience has changed the way I look at the world, just by giving me a wider sense for how people around the world live. … I think I have changed just by appreciating things more…. I think the greatest benefit of this experience for me in the long run is that I have the ability to share this with people.”
— Noah Adams, AFS Global Prep participant from USA to Russia (Noah went on to complete two further AFS programs… to date!)
The AFS perspective
From AFS’s perspective, these programs perfectly hit our mission to provide “intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world.” With their shorter durations, they provide a wonderful first step on a participant’s “AFS journey”, which can now include AFS Global Prep, high school exchange, 18+ mobility programs through Sentio and more.