AFS celebrated its 100th anniversary by holding two international Symposiums at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France in November 2014.


The high level Learning to Live Together—from Ideas to Action: AFS Global Intercultural Education Symposium and the 100 Years Young! Youth Workshop & Symposium addressed the critical challenges, concerns, opportunities and debates surrounding global citizenship education:

  • What is global citizenship?
  • How do we better develop active global citizens who are prepared to address the challenges of our interconnected world?
  • Who is responsible for delivering global citizenship education?
  • Why is the debate over educating global citizens so complex and contentious?
  • Is global citizenship education the most effective way to develop citizen change makers who work across differences to solve shared challenges for a more just and peaceful world?
  • And finally, what actions must we take to expand the global citizenship education movement?

AFS Global Intercultural Education Symposium

Learning to Live Together—from Ideas to Action

The AFS Global Intercultural Education Symposium was an amazing milestone in AFS history. On November 8, 2014, representatives of the AFS Global Community convened with luminaries in the world of peace and justice at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France to make a bold statement about the importance of global citizenship education and the role AFS has taken to advance this movement. The Symposium was held as part of the AFS Centennial Celebrations held in Paris in November. Over 1,000 people participated in the event.

The theme of the Symposium was inspired by Jacques Delors, former President of the European Commission and Chairperson of the UNESCO Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century, and his challenge that we “learn to live together by developing an understanding of others.”

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Driving the global citizenship education movement

“The mission for the AFS Global Symposium and the momentum for AFS going forward is to drive the global citizenship education movement to reach and cultivate partners, advocates, influencers, thought leaders and potential global citizens—young and old—especially those living or working in areas of great turmoil.”

— Melissa Liles, Chief Education Officer of AFS Intercultural Programs

Read more about the AFS Centennial celebrations

AFS Youth Workshop & Symposium

100 Years Young!

AFS also sponsored the 100 Years Young! AFS Youth Workshop & Symposium as part of the AFS Centennial Celebrations. AFS believes that young people are critical partners and stakeholders in global citizenship education, as well as catalysts for positive change.

100 Years Young! is a three-part project consisting of AFS Online Forums, a two-day AFS Workshop in Paris and the AFS Youth Symposium held on the morning of November 8th at UNESCO Headquarters.  The online and Paris workshops included more than 100 participants (30 years and under), representing 39 countries.

Insights and recommendations from the AFS Online Forums and Workshop informed the conversation at both the AFS Youth and AFS Global Symposiums. Specifically, the AFS Youth Symposium featured young thought leaders from all regions of the world who explored the best ways we can learn to live together as global citizens. The event was attended by several hundred people of all ages interested in learning fresh perspectives on the future of global citizenship education and intercultural learning.

100 Years Young Forum and Workshop participant are also using the recommendations to develop and launch local-level actions and mini-projects in their home countries in support of global citizenship education and intercultural learning.

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The AFS Global Intercultural Education Symposium Speakers

AFS was honored to have some of the world's most distinguished leaders in peace and education join us for the event. The speakers were:

Óscar Arias

President of Costa Rica from (2006-2010 and 1986-1990). Arias received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his efforts to end the Central American crisis. He is also a recipient of the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism and a trustee of Economists for Peace and Security.


Vigdis Finnbogadóttir

President of Iceland (1980-1996), First Woman in the World to be democratically elected a constitutional Head of State. Currently serving as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and a Member of the Club of Madrid.


Éric Falt

Éric Falt is the Assistant Director-General for External Relations and Public Information at UNESCO. Mr. Falt oversees the work of the organization in the political field, with Member States in particular, and coordinates activities geared towards civil society.


Andreas Schleicher

Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris. Mr. Schleicher supports the Secretary-General’s strategy to produce analysis and policy advice that advances economic growth and social progress.


Chernor Bah

A leading youth advocate for global education and serveing as the youth representative on the High-Level Steering committee for the UN Secretary General’s Global Education First Initiative, Chernor Bah is Chairperson of the Youth Advocacy Group.

Special Youth Representative


J. Brian Atwood

The current chair of Global Policy Studies and a professor of Public Policy at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. From 2010 to 2012, J. Brian Atwood served as chair of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.

The AFS Global Intercultural Education Symposium Facilitators

Dr. Vishaka N. Desai

Vishakha Desai

Vishakha Desai, Member of the International Board of Trustees of AFS Intercultural Programs, is Special Advisor for Global Affairs at Columbia University and President Emerita of the Asia Society. She is an Asia scholar with a focus on art, culture, policy, and women’s rights.


Roberto Ruffino

Roberto Ruffino is the Secretary General of Fondazione Intercultura and Honorary Chairperson of the European Federation for Intercultural Learning. He is internationally recognized as an expert in the field intercultural education.

Melissa Liles

Melissa Liles

Melissa Liles is Chief Education Officer for AF Intercultural Programs. She directs AFS’s global intercultural learning initiatives and outreach, working with expert academics, practitioners and AFS leaders in over 60 countries.

About AFS

As a leader in intercultural learning, AFS develops and supports educational initiatives that give people a greater understanding of other cultures and their place in the global community. This is made possible by the committed and talented people around the world who make up the AFS Network.

Find out more about AFS

Partners & Sponsors


AFS was honored to have received UNESCO’s highest recognition for the Learning to Live Together—from Ideas to Action: AFS Global Intercultural Education Symposium and the 100 Years Young! Youth Symposium in the form of event patronage.

AFS thanks BP for underwriting the AFS Global Intercultural Education Symposium. BP Global Citizens of Tomorrow scholarship program developed together with AFS Intercultural Programs provides financially-challenged students the opportunity to study abroad.


The AFS Global Intercultural Symposium and the AFS Youth Symposium have been certified by the Mission Centenaire, a French national initiative that promotes events related to World War I Centennial Commemorations, as one of the most innovative and structured Centennial projects in France.