by Daniel Obst, President & CEO of AFS

Welcome to the new school year to students and teachers in many countries around the world.

The beginning of a new school year is an exciting time for AFS: In almost 100 countries around the world, thousands of AFS exchange students are starting their journeys to becoming active global citizens in a new classroom, new country, and with a new family. At the same time, AFS volunteers and staff reinforce their efforts to support schools and educators in globalizing their curricula and infusing their practices with global competence. 

However, a new school year also offers some sobering truths: educators, NGOs and others in the international education community still have a lot of work to do to make sure that everyone has access to intercultural learning opportunities. We all need to double down on our efforts to empower young people with the skills they need to thrive in the increasingly interconnectedand far too often polarizedcommunities. 

Schools are an ideal place for fostering intercultural learning, helping young people learn to work across difference and appreciate insights from different perspectives. We encourage teachers think broadly about fostering inclusion through their teaching practices, using the rich diversity that is already present in every classroom worldwide. We know that this requires support from school administrators and policymakers. Please know that AFS and other organizations like ours are always available to offer resources, skills and insights into how to best infuse a global mindset into local curricula.

It is for the good of the world to ensure we all work together on educating the next generation of active global citizens. For example, together we must make sure that international and intercultural experiences are available to more and more young people as a regular part of their education. We must help schools reach their full potential in preparing future-ready global citizens. Most importantly, a new school year is an opportunity to reaffirm our core mission: to provide intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world. 

We wish a great school year to everyone!