by Efrem Fisher, Chief Programs Officer, AFS Intercultural Programs
Meet any AFS alumni and there’s a good chance they will tell you that their AFS experience changed their life. Better still, there’s a good chance it led them to devote their lives to the AFS mission—building a more just and peaceful world. This has certainly been my experience whenever I meet AFS alumni across the globe, and it makes me proud to work for AFS. So how can AFS ever possibly improve on the impact we already deliver? This is the “problem” and “challenge” we are tasked with thinking about and addressing. And let me start by saying, what a sincere privilege that is.
While it might not be the first words that come to mind when describing AFS, AFS is an educational organization. And not just any educational organization, but one with a tremendous wealth of knowledge and expertise in intercultural learning and global competence education developed and honed over 75 years of running study abroad programs. But we cannot be satisfied with that. Rather, we must constantly evolve—to stay modern and relevant, to build on what we already do well, to add new expertise to our existing expertise, and to reach more people with this expertise.
In 2021, we are proud to share the many ways we did just that—evolving how we deliver our impact and to whom. We know nothing can replace in-person experiences and we are eager to get study abroad to where it was before the pandemic. We are equally excited about virtual exchange, which emerged during the pandemic and demonstrated its educational impact way beyond these extraordinary circumstances. We are eager to dig deeper into this field, and grow its potential to innovate and expand the reach of AFS.