What does it really take to “learn to live together” in a just and peaceful world? At the inaugural AFS Global Conference on global competence in Budapest (26-28 September) five awards were presented to individuals, organizations and institutions whose worthy initiatives exhibit an outstanding commitment to championing global competence. AFS Intercultural Programs, as a leading nonprofit international education organization, was honored to present these awards in recognition of those who join us in the movement to advance global competence around the world.

Presenters and winners of the 2018 AFS Global Awards (from left to right): Angela Roye, AFS India; Mario Piacentini, OECD; Peter Halacsy, Budapest School; Martti Majuri, Gira Mundo Program; Daniel Obst, AFS Intercultural Programs; Allyson Rodrigues da Silva, Gira Mundo Program; Regina Honu, Soronko Solutions; Sinemis Candemir, AFS Turkey

AFS Global Leader Award

A vocal advocate for the integration of global competence education into school curricula is Andreas Schleicher of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). A well-known leader who has fueled this movement with his passion, expertise, and commitment, he is the first recipient of the AFS Global Leader Award. Schleicher has been in charge of introducing global competence into the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the worldwide assessment of 15-year-old student competences, to gauge how they think about pressing issues of local, global, and intercultural significance. This unprecedented insight will serve as a game changer to encourage more schools systems to integrate global competence into their curriculum. Schools in close to 80 countries will participate in the 2018 PISA testing.

AFS Global Citizen of the Year Award

The AFS Global Citizen of the Year Award was presented to Regina Honu, Founder of Soronko Solutions. Faced with resistance and misperceptions about the full potential of girls, this young software designer founded the first coding and human-centered design school for children and young adults in West Africa. Her “Tech Needs Girls” movement is making  studying STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering and math— particularly exciting to young Ghanaian women who often are not encouraged to set their sights beyond the home. Regina—who credits her own participation in an AFS exchange program for opening us her world and worldview beyond her roots in Ghana—continues her work using technology to improve lives beyond these learning programs. So far, these programs have trained more than 3,500 girls in Ghana and Burkina Faso. Earlier this year, she partnered with Autism Ambassadors of Ghana to introduce an Autism Aid app that provides vital expert information on caring for  autistic children.

AFS Award for Innovation in Global Education for an Organization

Global competence education stresses the importance of empathy—the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. By leveraging online video conferencing and shared activities, Empatico empowers teachers to partner with educators worldwide to foster empathy at a whole new level. This has recommended them to become the inaugural recipient AFS Award for Innovation in Global Education for an Organization. Empatico’s virtual classroom exchanges help students experience the world through the eyes of others. More than 3,000 classrooms in 90 countries are currently signed up on the platform, and social impact and education  partners—like Ashoka, Participate, The Africa-America Institute, and Teach For All—have offered it to their members. Empatico is free for educators everywhere. Daniel Lubetzky, CEO and Founder of KIND Healthy Snacks, launched Empatico last year with a $20 million investment in The KIND Foundation.

AFS Award for Innovation in Global Education for a Policymaker

The Department of Education of the State of Paraiba in Brazil received the AFS Award for Innovation in Global Education for a Policymaker. Determined to raise literacy rates, promote education excellence and develop more active citizens,  this government body launched “Gira Mundo,” which translates to “Spin The World”. Since 2016, 350 high school students and 155 teachers and counting have traveled to such countries as Portugal, Spain and Canada. Specifically, exchange participants have benefited from language learning, interacting with new cultures and learning new teaching methods. The program also included developing social projects that participants continue back home. The students and teachers are encouraged to share their experiences with education authorities and their communities to continue to influence new approaches to Pariba’s educational challenges.

AFS Award for Innovation in Global Education for a School

The AFS Award for Innovation in Global Education for a School was awarded to the Budapest School, and its founder and CEO Peter Halacsy. A true social entrepreneur, Péter Halácsy is a also Co-founder of Prezi, the well-known presentation platform. Based in his firm belief in the power of education and driven by the desire to give back, Péter took charge of founding this unique school. This school is a network of micro-schools in Hungary for children between 3 to 12  years old which prides itself on being “radically inclusive,” offering a personalized learning environment that emphasizes community building and develops global competence skills. Traditional testing and national education standards are not priorities at the school, and instead, students are treated as self-regulated learners.

Introducing the AFS Global Citizen Prize for Young Leaders

AFS Intercultural Programs is also proud to announce a new award, the AFS Global Citizen Prize for Young Leaders, to recognize one young person (up to age 30) for their commitment to improving the global community and whose actions contribute to a more just, peaceful, and tolerant world. The annual prize will be awarded to an individual who demonstrates extraordinary vision in contributing to the advancement of intercultural understanding and addressing a pressing global issue. In addition to recognition on a global level, this award will offer a generous cash prize in the amount of US$10,000 and include participation in next year’s AFS Global Conference and be a part of a prize winner alumni network. The prize is made possible thanks to a generous AFS alumni donor. The call for nominations will be launched in February 2019.


Offering these recognitions and awards reaffirms AFS’s commitment to global competence. To solve pressing 21st century challenges, people must know how to learn, work, communicate and live together across differences and sectors must align to ensure global competence is integrated into the learning agenda . The award recipients all demonstrate how working together to define innovative and sustainable practices leads to global competence.