What does it take to treat the world as family? The inaugural AFS Chat launched the new book, “World as Family: A Journey of Multi-Rooted Belongings”, by Vishakha Desai, the Chair of the AFS Board of Trustees and a prominent global studies scholar.

This AFS Chat took place on May 26 and brought together Dr. Desai with three young global citizens from different corners of the world who are making strides in peacebuilding, youth rights, and diversity, equity and inclusion—Rita Saias Santos, Luisa Fernanda Romero Munoz, and Lucas Martins Carvalho. Together, they explored why it is more important than ever to foster connections across cultures to create meaningful change in your local community. The conversation was moderated by Daniel Obst, President & CEO of AFS intercultural Programs.

Watch the AFS Chat recording below:

Get Vishakha Desai’s book that inspired our event “World as Family: A Journey of Multi-Rooted Belongings” directly from Columbia University Press (cup.columbia.edu) at a 20% discount with promo code CUP20.

Panelists included:

  • Vishakha N. Desai serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees of AFS Intercultural Programs. She is Senior Advisor for Global Affairs to the President of Columbia University and Senior Research Scholar at its School of International and Public Affairs, where she focuses on innovative approaches to understanding the relationship between culture and foreign policy in Asia. From 1990 through 2012, she served in various capacities at the Asia Society, ranging from being Director of its museum to being the President and CEO of the organization from 2004. Connect with Vishakha.
  • Rita Saias Santos, Consultant for the Youth area for the Civil House of the Presidency of the Portuguese Republic, is a young leader committed to representing and giving a voice to youth in its diversity, in Portugal and abroad. She has been serving on the Board of AFS Portugal since 2015, was the President of the National Youth Council in 2020 and a member of the Executive Secretariat of the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth 2018 and Youth Forum Lisboa +21. She is the co-author of several non-formal learning manuals and a publication by the Lisbon Youth Center on national and international youth organizations. Connect with Rita.
  • Luisa Romero Muñoz is a Colombian social entrepreneur, with a strong commitment to sustainable development and peace building. Her passion is to promote, lead and support initiatives that combine technology, social entrepreneurship and sustainable tourism for peace building and the socio-economic development in vulnerable communities affected by armed conflict or social problems. She is the co-founder of Get Up And Go Colombia, a local non-profit organization that promotes sustainable tourism in former war territories. For her work, Luisa has been recognized as the first winner of the AFS Prize for Young Global Citizens. Connect with Luisa.
  • Lucas Martins Carvalho is a student at University of the South and Young Leaders Access Program Mentor at MCW Global. Originally from Brazil, he is also a member of BRASA-Brazilian Student Association. Lucas is engaged to bring people together to talk about politics, social inequalities, and education. Lucas has extensive experience volunteering for several organizations, including The Organization for Cross-Cultural Understanding (OCCU) and AFS Brazil. Connect with Lucas.

The conversation was moderated by: 

  • Daniel Obst is President and CEO of AFS Intercultural Programs. Obst oversees and directs strategy for AFS, with worldwide operations, and a global community of 1 million alumni. This creative thinker and collaborator charged with leading a global movement to develop global citizens also serves on the AFS Board of Trustees. Before joining AFS in 2016, Daniel served as Deputy Vice President for International Partnerships at the Institute of International Education (IIE) where he provided strategic leadership for many groundbreaking IIE initiatives. Daniel currently serves on the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO. Connect with Daniel.