by Veronica Boix Mansilla, AFS Education Committee Chair, and Principal Investigator and Executive Committee member at Project Zero at Harvard Graduate School of Education

We live in remarkable times. Over the last few decades, we have witnessed the expansion of our global imagination. We saw how accelerated interactions, digital connectivity, travel cooperation and innovation the world over transformed our sense of the world and the many lives with whom we share our planet. Millions moved in search for better and safer lives, creating new opportunities for mutual understanding across cultures.

At the same time, the very forces that created such opportunities have also made the world more volatile, more complex, more uncertain. Today, we witness important threats to environmental sustainability and rising inequality within and across nations. We observe growing xenophobia, aided by the unprecedented spread of fake news and misinformation traveling on the very digital highways that were meant to connect us.

It follows that ours is a world that requires mindful, informed, compassionate and ethical human beings, able to understand themselves in changing environments and build relationships across cultures. We need to nurture the capacity to detect problems affecting humanity, the imagination to envision possible worlds, and the courage to commit to making a difference within each person’s realms of influence.

From those who founded AFS until today: we recognize that peace pivots on our capacity to respect human dignity and understand each other across differences. This is why our approach to nurturing global and intercultural citizenship is rooted in research, propelled by thoughtful innovation and monitored through impact studies.

Our programs address everyone—young people, families and volunteers—whether we meet them in person or online. Whether we are supporting Students and Host Families through their Learning Journey, or nurturing teachers and young adults through the Global Competence Certificate, we encourage people to think big and act practically, to bridge distances and deepen understanding, and to work courageously for a world where people feel connected across cultures, space, and time.

Few missions are more consequential and urgent for our collective future.

Learn more about AFS educational initiatives: