What is the AFS Student Learning Journey?

On an AFS program, every student does more than just travel — they go on a learning journey. 

Before, during, and after their study abroad program, every AFS student benefits from an educational curriculum based on a proven approach that we developed over 75 years of intercultural exchange and recently updated in collaboration with the Center for Social Impact Strategy (CSIS) at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice.

At the end of their learning journey, students leave with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to develop as active global citizens. We call these learning outcomes the “AFS Superpowers“: adaptability, critical thinking, self-awareness, effective communication, empathy, open-mindedness, valuing differences, global awareness, and changemaking. These abilities will accompany students later in life, serving as the foundation for a lifetime of active global citizenship.

Besides impacting students participating in our programs, AFS’s reach extends to others who come into close contact with them, such as AFS volunteers, family members, and the school community. We call this the #AFSeffect.

Download the AFS Active Global Citizenship Framework

What do you experience on the AFS Student Learning Journey?

The AFS Student Learning Journey is a carefully designed curriculum that combines online and in-person educational activities to engage students with content related to intercultural learning and social innovation at every step of their AFS program: before travel, during their time abroad and after students return from the program.

This unique approach prepares students for their intercultural experience and supports them at each moment, providing guided reflection to help students process their everyday experiences in a new cultural environment and learn from situations when differences challenge them. Students also learn from each other as they can connect online globally with all exchange students in an AFS program at the same time and interact in person locally with their peers.

  • Online globally: As they prepare for their AFS program, students become part of a global community and meet like-minded and diverse people before even travelling. Each student is enrolled in an online learning course that complements their local preparation activities. Students are also invited to meet, connect, and collaborate virtually with AFS peers worldwide through virtual live sessions – the Global Meetup, Facilitated Dialogue Session #1 and #2.
  • In-person locally: Before they travel, students participate in a locally scheduled group orientation session that gives them the knowledge, coping strategies, and skills needed to have a meaningful intercultural experience. This orientation, led by AFS staff and volunteers, will be a great way to meet other AFSers before they go abroad.

Get an Advanced Certificate in Global Citizenship for Social Impact

For AFS students wanting to go above and beyond, we offer an Advanced Certificate in Global Citizenship for Social Impact from University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Social Impact Strategy (CSIS). This is a great way to boost your resume with official recognition from a world renowned university, and put your ideas for changing the world into practice.

Get your certificate

Frequently Asked Questions

The AFS Student Learning Journey was developed to support all AFS study abroad programs for teens.


Explore More AFS Programs


High School Study Abroad Programs

Study at a high school in a new country, during an academic year, semester or trimester. Make new friends, learn a new language, live with a global family, and become an active global citizen! It is all about personal growth, cultural exploration, active global citizenship and belonging.

Find out more

Short Study Abroad Programs

The AFS Academies are highly focussed short-term, theme-based programs for under 18s designed to empower you to change your world, engage in hands-on activities, and learn skills vital to becoming a global citizen of tomorrow. AFS Academies provide the perfect opportunity to explore human rights, STEM, language and culture, and sustainability.

Find out more

Virtual Exchange

AFS virtual exchanges help young people learn about connecting with people across cultures, become part of a global community, and achieve social impact. In addition to having fun, you’ll earn an award-winning AFS Global Competence Certificate or the Advanced Certificate on Global Citizenship for Social Impact issued by AFS and the Center for Social Impact Strategy at the University of Pennsylvania.

Explore our virtual programs