by Andreza Martins, Deputy Chief Programs Officer, AFS Intercultural Programs
If you have ever sat next to an AFS exchange program alumni, you probably heard them talk about that time when they went abroad with AFS and how it was a turning point for them. Well, sit next to anyone who has been a member of an AFS host family and you will hear multiple versions of what the hosting experience meant for different generations, family members, one-time or repeat hosters—in a nutshell, you will hear about the #AFSeffect.
A hosting experience rarely revolves around a single great turning point. It is better described as multiple waves of meaningful connection, learning and growth. It’s an empowering shared experience of bringing culture, diversity and opportunity to families and communities—an amazing journey from host family to an AFS Global Family, and this is transformational.
What is the secret behind AFS Global Families?
- AFS creates global families by helping them connect in meaningful ways with young people from different cultures and other like-minded families.
- AFS volunteers and staff support and guide families every step of the way, throughout their AFS experience.
- All this makes families grow, learn more about themselves, re-energize and enrich their lives, while having fun together.
- As a result, they make an impact in the world by bringing culture, diversity and opportunity to their communities.
Who is the Global Families program for?
The AFS Global Family program is a very inclusive opportunity. We look to reflect the communities where we are present in all their richness, as we value diversity in all forms. It is our goal to create space for difference and expose people to new cultures and ideas in a supportive environment. Different people may want to become a Global Family for different reasons:
- Alumni of all ages may want to live a new intercultural experience and give back what was once offered to them.
- Families with children may want an experience for the whole family to develop intercultural skills and raise awareness of global issues. They may want concrete ways for their children to share skills, interests, and activities with the hosted student as a brother or sister and create a bond for life.
- Single adults, empty nesters, people in same-gender marriages may opt for this experience becuse they value the peace and justice mission of AFS. This can be a concrete way to connect with the world, through the experience of sharing a time in their lives and their culture with young changemakers.
With 75 years of experience and continuous learning, AFS volunteers and staff are always there to support and guide families to engage effectively with their hosted students. Through individual activities, group orientations and connections with other host families we help families establish a healthy communication dynamic with their students and give them the space and support to create their experience together.
If this got you excited about this opportunity or made you think of someone who would be, contact AFS in your country to discover what your next steps should be. Get ready for the #AFSeffect!