AFS continues to find new ways to transform short exchange programs into content rich learning labs for young active global citizens. These programs are designed to support Generation Z’s passion for changing their world.
AFS themed summer programs in 40 countries explored the UN Sustainable Development Goals and STEM challenges, as well as human rights and language learning. All AFS programs are supported by intercultural learning activities that are designed to build global competence skills. Here is a sampling of Summer 2019 highlights:
TACKLING SUSTAINABLE WATER MANAGEMENT IN GHANA
The UN Sustainable Development Goal 6, which calls for ensuring availability and the sustainable management of water inspired AFS organizations in Ghana and USA to partner with Safe Water Network to help young people learn about the water filtration systems and technology. During the program in Ghana, AFS-USA students visited two water filtration and treatment stations in Greater Accra and the Volta region, helped local operators test the quality of the water before distribution, and presented their ideas on how to make clean water more accessible.
Program participants lived with Ghanaian host families to enhance their language and intercultural skills and take full advantage of experiencing the richness of Ghanaian culture and history. Outings included visits to the Cape Coast Castle, where they learned about the devastating history of the Transatlantic slave trade. On the brighter side, participants enjoyed the fund side of Ghana, including drumming, dance lessons, and making tie-dye fabric. The students also spent time with their younger peers at a local school primary school. Both AFS and Safe Water Network are interested in continuing the collaboration in future years.
EXPLORING THE HISTORY OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN ARGENTINA
Argentina’s political history makes it an ideal country for young people to learn about and experience the ongoing struggle for human rights—and the strong cultural ties that make Argentinians proud. Participants witnessed first-hand the Madres de Plaza de Mayo movement of Argentine mothers who campaigned for their children who disappeared during the military dictatorship by attending their weekly protest. The students also visted the Memorial Museum, which was the country’s largest clandestine center used to detain and torture those labeled as dissidents during Argentina’s last civil-military dictatorship (1976-1983). Today, the museum promotes and defends human rights. Participants also visited the Parque de la Memoria, a sculpture park in remembrance of the crimes that occurred during the military dictatorship. The program included intensive Spanish language classes and academic workshops. Diving into the local culture at a gaucho ranch to ride horses and enjoying traditional Argentine barbecue was a special highlight of the program.
COMBINING SCIENCE AND ENGLISH LESSONS IN IRELAND
An exciting STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) camp at the world-renowned Trinity College in Dublin was a perfect opportunity forAFS participants to expand their scientific vocabulary, while enhancing their problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Participants worked in teams alongside STEM experts to design mathematical functions, build micro controlled projects, and have fun with Newton’s laws of motion. They explored further what it means to code, engineer constructions, develop ideas for the future of transportation and climate change. The STEM classes also emphasized English language learning. Participants especially enjoyed the focus on expression, knowledge transfer and debate rather than grammar and spelling. Global competence workshops supported the students’ intercultural learning journey to build skills that will help them navigate the diverse world of STEM professionals and challenges, and put their experience into context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.