Until 2016, Catalonia had a single local chapter known as AFS Intercultura Catalunya, established in 2003. In 2016, the dedicated volunteers decided to restructure, resulting in the formation of four independent Local Chapters: Barcelona, Maresme, Montserrat, and Vallés. Despite this restructuring, they maintained a collaborative spirit, working together on various projects and initiatives. The COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges, especially for the Vallés Local Chapter, which faced a shortage of volunteers and regrettably decided not to renew its commitment. However, in June of this year, the community witnessed a new chapter being added to the story: Catalunya Central. This dynamic chapter has already become an integral part of the ongoing projects, further illustrating the resilience and adaptability of the local chapters in Catalonia.
The Book Bank project initiated by the Catalonian Local Chapter has left a lasting impact on the community. This initiative not only provides educational resources to host students but also demonstrates a commitment to sustainability. The project’s funds contribute to a scholarship fund that has significantly changed the lives of students overcoming oncology treatments, showcasing the chapter’s dedication to inclusion and compassion. The Book Bank project exemplifies the AFS mission, illustrating how even small initiatives can make a substantial impact on individuals’ lives.
Moreover, the EVA program in Catalonia serves as a powerful catalyst for cross-border exchange and the growth of the National Organization. The initiative involves dedicated women volunteers who not only connect with counterparts from another country but also create meaningful in-person connections by hosting each other. The last volunteer exchange through the EVA program took place in Turkey in February 2020, and the experience was reciprocated in Spain in May 2022. The recent response to the earthquake crisis in Turkey, where Catalan volunteers demonstrated swift and compassionate action, showcases the profound impact of the EVA program in fostering cultural exchange and mutual support during times of need. Their immediate response marked the beginning of a heartfelt fundraising campaign that transcended borders and cultures. The fundraising campaign was a collaborative effort that ran until March 19, 2023, and it concluded with a remarkable event held in Lleida. This initiative stands as a testament to the mission of AFS in action, fostering a more inclusive, understanding, and connected world.
The journey of the local chapter in Catalonia showcases the power of collaboration and adaptation in the face of changing circumstances. It’s a testament to the volunteers’ unwavering commitment to the AFS mission and their dedication to creating a positive impact on their communities. As they continue to evolve, we can look forward to more remarkable achievements in the future.
Community Impact Award
Our newest award, established in 2023, the AFS Community Impact Award for Standout Local Chapters recognizes the exceptional efforts AFS Local Chapters do every day to further the AFS Mission.
In 2023, winners of the Community Impact Award winners were:
- Belo Horizonte, AFS Brazil
- Catalunya, AFS Spain
- Indore, AFS India