For 75 extraordinary years, AFS has embraced cultural understanding—celebrating differences and seeking the common ground that connects people from across the globe. And every connection … every friendship … and every new insight into humanity continues to move the world toward a more just and peaceful place—all thanks to AFSers like you. Quite simply: Your Story is Our Story!

With each new generation, we look to young people to carry the torch of our legacy even further. During our rich history, AFS-USA has empowered students to see their place in the world and unlocked their potential as leaders, innovators, and problem-solvers. With a vast global network of students, parents, families, staff members, and donors, the AFS Effect stretches across borders and divides. Here are a few of the many stories being shared with us throughout our 75th year.

Share your AFS Story!

How has AFS-USA changed your life? If you studied abroad, hosted a student, volunteered with AFS, or connected with us in some other way, please tell us what made your experience such a memorable part of your life!

Share your story

Sheri Belton-Gonzalez

Host parent and volunteer

Sheri is a shining example of a global citizen with an enthusiasm for intercultural exchange. A study abroad student herself, she made it a point to leave her small town and fuel her passion for attaining fluency in Spanish. Now as a parent, she aims to create a multicultural home where her children can welcome and celebrate differences. And, as a bilingual educator and academic, she sees, studies, and embodies the lifelong benefits of international exchange and full immersion language learning.

Read more of Sheri’s story

Ambulances AFS

From the Archives

The American Field Service was founded after the outbreak of World War I. In France, 2,500 volunteers drove ambulances, transported supplies, and carried more than 500,000 wounded in battle. Between wars, AFS coordinated reunions and a series of academic fellowships for former AFS drivers. The AFS ambulance corps was reactivated in 1939 at the start of World War II. Then, in 1946, 250 American Field Service ambulance and camion drivers from both World Wars launched the secondary school student exchange program that is now referred to as AFS Intercultural Programs, Inc.

To this day, AFSers carry on the spirit of volunteerism and a concern for the entire global population that transcends borders and divisions, the same spirit which propelled the first AFS ambulance drivers into action.

Explore the History of AFS

Anita Danso

Exchange student from Ghana, 2002-03

“My AFS experience was certainly a life-changing one. Looking back 20 years, I can boldly say it is an experience that has molded me into the woman I am today. For me, I believe I didn’t just go through the year, I carried every bit of what I learned along with me and that is what made the difference. I made friends with whom I still keep in touch; my family was just a perfect fit for me and it was as though God had planned for me to have a permanent [second] family. The Myers have been a major part of my life and now my children’s too. I continue to enjoy the benefits of my experience even after 20 years and that is a real blessing to me.”

Anita recently returned to her host community to show her children the local high school and reunite with those she had connected with while on exchange!

AFS reunion 2022-1

Peter Robinson

Board member, host parent, and alumnus, U.S. to Austria 1972-73

In 1972, 22 students from America, New Zealand, and Argentina embarked on a then-experimental multinational trip to live and study in Austria through AFS. In September of 2022, 50 years after the trip that altered the course of their lives, nine of these students got together for a reunion in northeastern Pennsylvania. The weekend included hikes reminiscent of good times in Austria and Italy with friends and host siblings, as well as a video chat with their fellow alumni who could not be there in person. One member of the group, Peter, had this to say about the experience: “This 50th reunion overflowed with memories, love, laughter, conversation, hugs, delicious food, good cheer, good Austrian wine, and singing our favorite Austrian folk songs around a bonfire — just like we used to during the many times we would get together in Austria 50 years ago. The kinship and camaraderie of this group that exists to this day are truly precious. We’re hoping not to have to wait as long, and certainly not for any special number of years, for our next reunion.” AFS has brought together young people from across the globe to foster relationships that span decades and stories like Peter’s are a wonderful reminder of why our programs are so important.

The AFS Exchange Podcast

If you love a great AFS Story, check out The AFS Exchange Podcast! Episodes feature conversations with AFS-USA host families, students, volunteers, and educators. In each episode, we hear from our guests about how their lives have been impacted by AFS.

Listen Now

Rodney Warren: Host Parent and Volunteer

Jody Axinn

Volunteer and chaperone

After 15 years of volunteering with AFS in various capacities as the Sponsored Programs Cluster Coordinator, the Hosting Coordinator, and hosting 6 wonderful exchange students, I was selected as the Flight Chaperone to Indonesia. As a result, I had the good fortune of being able to live with my YES Program Alumni from 2009-2010, Indra Mardiansyah and his wife, Nuriyah, from Borneo, and to participate in Eid al-Adha with his extended family. While waiting for the imam, I bought all the kids in the family, all 30-something of them, ice cream from the ice cream bike man for about $7. That seemed to break the ice and suddenly, I went from foreigner to one of the family.  As such, we went from door to door delivering fresh beef with even the smallest of children proud to present their bags to the neighbors. Having American Family come visit them in their small village showed the love that lasted over a decade and counting.

Anne Ford: Host Parent and Volunteer

Carolyn Wilsing (Bosshardt)

Alumna and Volunteer

In the summer of 1954, Carolyn Wilsing (Bosshardt) traveled aboard the MS Seven Seas to start her AFS experience in Germany. While there, she created strong bonds with her host family and fellow AFSers, witnessed history in the still-divided city of Berlin, and became an ambassador for her nation. On her return, Carolyn gave an impassioned speech to her peers about the value of the program and encouraged them to seek similar experiences: “The purpose of the exchange program is to promote international goodwill and understanding. I cannot help but feel this program will have an effect on future relationships with foreign countries.”
After her exchange, Carolyn became an AFS Volunteer in a small town in Wisconsin and hosted multiple students. Her children, including Kim Thompson, who shared her story with AFS, went abroad to have their own life-changing adventures. Carolyn passed away in 1996, but her legacy lives on:

“Despite growing up in a small town, she opened our world and we began to have friends/family around the world. She did this for my father also who had never traveled before visiting his AFS Students. She left a legacy with us. I have continued to volunteer for AFS since I was 16, my family has hosted multiple times, and my daughters both went abroad.” – Kim Thompson, AFS Volunteer and Host Family
Achieving Life-long bond through Exchange Experience

Patricia Audrey Castromayor

ALEX Program Participant, 2022

“After 26 hours of flight from the Philippines, I finally arrived at my first home in the US-Manhattan, Kansas…I was hosted by a couple who not only showed me what American life is but also their own and being hosted together with another student is what makes my experience unique by having the privilege of sharing four cultures under one roof. In our home, we exchange stories about our countries’ culture, traditions, and cuisine: Brazil, Indonesia, the Philippines, and America. They were the ones who taught me that you don’t need to be related to each other just to consider them as your family; you just have to embrace them for what they are. What matters most is how you value your time together, creating memories as much as you can-let alone spending only a week with them with the uncertainty of seeing each other in a few years. The beauty of having a host family goes beyond anything anyone can think of. It is an experience that cultivates communication and connection on both sides. MHK was also the place where I met my international life-long friends. They never treated me differently because I was the only Filipina in this group of Indonesian girls. They showed me that despite our differences in belief, one can have a good friendship.”

Katherine (Katy) Basile

Alumnus, U.S. to Germany, 1975

“I made a dozen [stories] when I joined my AFS family in northern Germany for the Summer Program in 1975. My AFS family welcomed me and found ways to communicate even though I spoke no German! Since then we have visited each other, and two of my AFS “nieces” have come and studied while living with us. My AFs mother is an amazing woman who lived through WWII outside of Dresden, made her way when a young woman to West Germany, met her husband, and started a family in a small rural community on the border of Holland. Widowed a few years before hosting me, she modeled warmth, practicality, and love – and ambition for a successful family and for all of her kids to be successful in whatever way they chose. My AFS summer and my ongoing connection to my host family led me to a legal career with an international aspect and to being an AFS liaison and host mother (4 times with each of my own four children being host siblings and my husband as a host dad). Today I travel to Germany for my AFS mother’s funeral. Out of my deep sadness comes my gratefulness that she decided to host an AFS student in 1975 and introduced me to my AFs family who will be part of my family for the rest of my life!”

Shelley Quandt

AFS Alumna and 3rd generation host family

“My parents decided that we’d host a student from Fribourg, Switzerland in 1991-92. Antoine Eigenmann is my first host brother. We shared our Senior year of High School. He really was my brother. We had different friends and different interests. We bickered like a brother and sister do. It was perfect. We’ve kept in touch over the years. You know the drill – weddings, babies and the like. In 1992 I was a Freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In early October my parents told me that they had another AFS student moving in over the weekend. He was from Jerez de la Frontera, Spain and needed a place to stay while a new host family was found. He just didn’t feel comfortable where he was and our liaison, Eunice, thought my parents might just be able to help. Sure enough, Francisco Barroso was here to stay and I had another brother! Like my dad and Kashu, I got to know Francisco over school breaks and was honored to attend his wedding a few years later. Finally, in 1994 it was my turn to study abroad. I spent the year in Aix-en-Provence, France through a partnership with UW-Madison. I spent my Christmas and February breaks in Fribourg, Switzerland with Antoine and his French-speaking family. They hosted me during my exchange. I had my host family after all!”


Tomaz Rossi

AFS Exchange Student, Brazil to U.S. 2008

“In 2008 I left Brazil to be an exchange student in Marquette, Michigan. It was an amazing experience and I learned so much, grew as a person, learned how to speak English, and made lifelong friends. I fell in love with the US and today I have the honor to call this place home. I am currently living in Omaha, Nebraska with my wife.”

Linda Knicely

AFS Volunteer and Host Parent

“My first connection with AFS was as a charter member of our HS’s AFS club in 1976. In the 1980s and ’90s, my parents hosted two different exchange students. One of them – Jule, from Germany, was hosted by my parents in 1996. In the 25+ years since, she and her family have maintained a very close relationship with our family – both my parents, though my mom is now deceased, and especially my dad, who will turn 90 on his next birthday.

Most recently, five of our family members completed a 12-day lower Danube River cruise in September/October and then traveled by train to visit Jule and her family at the conclusion of our trip (my dad’s main motivating factor in going on the cruise, I think)…we were very grateful for the chance to nurture those bonds.

Altogether, from 1996 to the present, our two families have visited each other (either in Germany or Ohio/Florida) five different times (or best estimate). We are all so very important in each others’ lives.”

Eleta Jones 75th Anniversary Story Submission Photo

Eleta Jones

Alumnus, U.S. to Bangladesh (East Pakistan) 1964

“In 1964 (58 years ago), I was an AFS Exchange student to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). I lived with a wonderful family for the summer and formed a lasting bond with them. I am still in communication with my Bangladeshi family. The parents have passed away but my four Bangladeshi siblings and I are in contact with each other. I have been back to Bangladesh twice (bringing my husband and my two young adult children with me in 2005) and my husband and I have attended the weddings of my Bangladeshi siblings’ children in Washington, DC, Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia. Some of the family members have visited with us in our home in Connecticut. I feel so fortunate to have been able to have this experience of a very different culture and yet I found such love. I’m attaching a photo of me, with my four siblings and their wives/husbands at a family wedding in Thailand in January 2019 (I’m the woman on the right in the blue sari).”

Linda Ngo

Alumnus, U.S. to Costa Rica, 2014

“Wow! Where do I even start? I was blessed with the opportunity to go to Costa Rica with AFS in 2014. To this day, I share with my friends and colleagues what a life changing experience this was. I met so many amazing people and went on so many great adventures such as zip lining, horseback riding, cleaned up the rainforest, refurbished a church, went to a hot springs, explored the coffee farms, and had such meaningful conversations at every dinner table. I discovered a little bit about myself every day I was there. Even though this was my first time going out of the country by myself, AFS really made me feel safe. I am still in communication with my host family here and there on social media. They really became like an extended family and they made me feel so loved. I hope to go back one day to visit. I enjoyed every single moment and would not change a single thing. Thank you AFS!”

Ben Kyriagis 75th Anniversary Story (1)

Ben Kyriagis

AFS Exchange Student, Greece to U.S. 1971-72

“I came to USA with AFS, from Greece, in 1971-72 I was hosted by the wonderful Wagenbach Family, in Barron Wisconsin. Two years later I came back to USA to attend the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire. My Greek mother’s only advice was, “Don’t Marry An American”. Fortunately, I did NOT follow her advice. Instead I used it as the title to my Memoir, published in late 2021. More info about the book is available on Amazon and in my author’s website: My American wife, Shelley, and I will be celebrating our 45th wedding anniversary. In my book, I have 5 chapters, (20% of the book) about my life changing AFS Year. ❤️❤️❤️ To AFS to all Host Families and volunteers and to all AFSers, worldwide!”

Edward Schell

AFS Volunteer, and Alumnus, U.S. to Japan

“As a quiet kid in high school, I had no friends and was shy. By my junior year, however, I learned of an exchange student at our school, which led me to join the school’s AFS Club. From there, the world opened up to me. I felt welcomed, made friends, and started to be fascinated about other countries, cultures, and people from all over the globe. AFS gave me great moments of happiness and exciting times that I don’t think I ever would have experienced during those school years if I hadn’t become a part of the group. It was such an influence on me that I became the club’s president in my senior year and then even shocked my parents by signing up to go abroad with AFS for the summer (All from a kid that hardly ever left the house, and never hug out with other kids). My summer abroad in Japan as a 17-year-old was one of the highlights of my life, and I’m 61 now. I recall how it opened up my world even wider so much so that I wanted the time to never end, I didn’t want to return home and I wanted to experience more of the world from every corner. Once I did return I started college and made my plans to make this experience continue. Two years later I returned to Japan to further my studies. Once I finished college, I assisted AFS in New York City as a volunteer group leader and assistant coordinator during incoming student orientations. My heart was once again filled with the thrill of that AFS experience. The memories of the excitement, the energy, and the happiness shared with those hundreds of people are times that still fill me with joy. Though life took me in other directions soon after that, I don’t think I can remember any better memories than the times spent with AFS. Now that I’m retired, I looking forward to returning to AFS as a volunteer. Thank you AFS. Looking forward to more great experiences through helping put the exchange programs.”

Gayle Pemberton

Gayle Pemberton

Alumnus, U.S. to England, 1965-1966

“I was a school year student in the 1965-66 school year. I went from Kansas City, Missouri to West Yorkshire in England, attending the Girls’ Grammar School in Bradford. The year was the most important one of my life.

I went from the racially proscribed, provincial world of Kansas City to England. The North has lagged behind the South in England in wealth and political clout, but as in the rest of the country, it was possible to see and feel the effects of World War II. The War had been over for only 20 years and some goods were still not available.

I was accepted as a person. My classmates were curious about the “American,” not already locked into their brains the racism that has always plagued the United States. My host families, my friends, my teachers, took me as I was and it was in this environment that I learned about myself and felt a modicum of freedom I’d never experienced. I breathed air differently. The saddest moments I had were getting on the Seven Seas to travel back to the U.S. I had to go to return to my family — who had so generously allowed me to go — and to college. Sometimes I wish I had returned after I finished my higher education, but I didn’t.

I remain in touch with several of the schoolmates I met then. We Zoom once a month. I so wish that every 17-year-old in this country could have a year in another country. Understanding, seeing the perspectives of people from around the world could certainly help diminish the extraordinary prevalence of insensitivity and ignorance of others. I always speak of my AFS year as the most significant time of my life. I still mean it.”

Nancy Nieman

Alumnus, U.S. to Spain, 1956

“I went to Spain summer 1956 first AFS group to go to Franco Spain. I fell in love with country. Host family took me all over Spain and saw ancient Islamic, Romanesque, Gothic monuments.

Returned to USA majored I Spanish, M.A. from Middlebury College at International Institute in Madrid, taught college, returned to get doctorate from University de Madrid. Taught language, literature,history and art history at Beloit College, USC, CSU Northridge and Santa Monica College, Led Beloit program in Granada, USC at International Institute in Madrid. Later returned to direct the Institute itself!!!

I owe my professional career and life long love (Spanish and college students) to summer 1956 AFS trip to Spain. Cannot thank you enough. “

Roshani Shay Curtis Headshot (1)

Roshani Shay Curtis

Host Parent and Alumnus, U.S. to Switzerland, 1959-60

“In my junior year in high school I was typically headed for marriage, hope chest and all. My family was not well off and my mother was shocked when I applied to AFS. I was selected and sent on a nine month program to Switzerland, 1959-60. How my life changed! I applied to college, got scholarships, eventually earned my PhD in Political Science, even as a single mom of a kid with disabilities. I taught at university for over 30 years, mostly international relations and comparative government courses. I inspired three of my four stepchildren to go on AFS programs to Sweden, Australia and New Zealand. I will be forever indebted to AFS for changing my life.”

Nancy Wolff

Host Parent and Alumnus, U.S. to Chile, 1966-1967

“AFS had a profound influence on my life and subsequently on my entire family. I spent the 1966-67 school year in Temuco, Chile. Two years later, my American family welcomed an AFS student from Japan. Many years later our daughter decided to host an AFSer from Mexico. My husband and I readily agreed. While my daughter did not go on AFS, she did spend a year studying at the University of the Americas in Puebla, Mexico. She roomed with our Mexican AFS daughter. Over the years my husband was chapter president and I have worked with AFS in many different capacities. In fact, it was because I worked on Regional Screening in the 1970’s that I met my husband. One of the men I worked with on both Regional Screening and orientation camps introduced us. So indirectly AFS is responsible for our marriage. We will celebrate 45 years in October.”


Denise Moore

Host Parent and Alumnus, U.S. to Japan, 1983

“I joined AFS in high school as a club that sounded fun. I met students from many countries when they were hosted in my community. My family hosted students who were in our area arriving and departing from the New York/New Jersey area. I went to Delaware with my club and students from Delaware stayed with us. One year my school was hosting a student from Greenland and a student from the Netherlands. They encouraged me to apply to be an exchange student. I decided to go for a summer as I didn’t want to miss my senior year of high school.The summer of 1983, I got on a plane for the first time and traveled to Japan. It was a wonderful experience and it gave an appreciation of other cultures and a love for travel. I will never forget it and I am grateful to AFS for the opportunity that they gave me.”

Jami Hittson

Host Parent and Alumnus, U.S. to Spain

“In 7th grade, my middle school offered a 2 week exchange to Mexico. I begged my parents to go but they said if I waited, I could go for a whole year in high school. They thought I’d forget or lose interest but through a chain of events and some scholarship opportunities, I studied in Porriño, Spain my junior year of high school. The trip changed my life, opened both my mind and doors. And today, so many years later, my family is hosting a German student.

Because of my year abroad with AFS, I’ve been hired for jobs using my second language, I’ve translated for friends and family on vacations, and I’ve been able to gain appreciation for language learners of all kinds.”


Jack McCowan

Alumnus, U.S. to Brazil, 1965

“My experience as an AFSer (Brazil, 1965) was the catalyst for many of the most meaningful endeavors of my life. It encouraged me to spend a year at the University of Madrid through the Education Abroad Program of the University of California. It gave me a thirst for learning other languages. And, most important of all, it made me understand that now, more than ever, we must recognize that no matter where we live, or what resources we may have, we are all interdependent.”

Bee Bee Ong

Volunteer and Host Parent

“In 2015, I started my AFS Journey from hosting a student from France, Clement. [] In 2016, I went to visit him and attended EFIL. In 2019, I stayed with his family (my turn to be hosted) and I had gathered so much of memories with him and his family. I really missed the moments there.

[…] After 2 years hosting experienced, I ventured out and wanted to explore more courses and activities through AFS. So, what I did was flew to Italy to attend EFIL in 2016. After the trip, I hosted more countries and still keep the connection with volunteers and also the exchange students.
What I learnt the most through hosting students, I get to know more culture of each country, I become more open minded and willingness to open my house to more students.

In 2016, I sent my son for Exchange in Switzerland. He had two lovely host family. He passed through the journey with all kinds of ‘hiccup’ and ‘obstacles’. He learnt to see himself more depth and become more independent. I see the changes in him. In 2019, his host sister came to visit him in Malaysia. Until today, my son still to keep in touch with his host family in Switzerland. In 2018, I sent my daughter to Denmark for exchange. She also went through all kinds of challenges. Luckily, she had a lovely host family. she is very closed to them and they treated her as one of their children. Her exchange journey was a great one too. In 2020, I wanted to send my youngest son to France for 6 months exchange but it was cancelled due to covid pandemic.

In 2020-2021, I started to collaborate with more countries through zoom meet and google meet. I connected my students with overseas students through webcam. We collaborated more than 7 countries which I never dreamt of it. But, it happened and the students and parents do like it. So, the enrollment for this year spiked up as well. Most of the parents told me, they do see the changes in their kid. Even though they didn’t travel to other country but they do learn the culture well.

Lastly, I would like to thank AFS Malaysia, Klang Chapter Mrs Bernard and Mr Collin for their guidance, AFS Host Family support, AFS exchange students and AFS Volunteers. Without all of you, my lifestyle would be different and plain. Thank you for accepting me.”


Melanie Pierce

Volunteer and Host Parent

“Being single and not having children of my own, hosting two amazing young women have allowed me to be a mom, mentor a young person, watch them grow into successful adults. They are a part of my family, they sometimes even act like siblings with small digs with who the first child is and who the baby of the family is. When my youngest had an emergency medical issue in 2021, the oldests host students sister who is a doctor, reviewed lab work and medical file to help us ask more questions of the medical team in the students country. It is real family they we have, their family, my family, one big US/Brazilian/Lebanese family!

From hosting I also volunteered, have been liaison and other roles withing the chapters I have been involved in. From there students are in constant contact with me, this week one student from Ghana (YES 2011-12) just sent me a message that he is working on his Masters at George Washington in DC and if I was in the area to let him know. I know that AFS has allowed and helped me support students and in return, those students continue to give back with love and appreciation. It is full circle!”

Sarah Radermacher

Host Parent, and AFS-USA Staff Member

“When I was young, my family was recruited as a “bus stop” family, and it was a delight to have students from all over the world stay with us for a couple of nights. When my older sister went off to college and a spare bedroom opened in our home, the local AFS volunteer was quick to fill it with a young woman from Brazil who has become my forever sister. After I finished a stint in the Peace Corps, I was intrigued to find that AFS was hiring. I applied and have been employed here ever since. The friendships I have formed with staff colleagues and volunteers across the country have truly enriched my life; proving what a global society we truly are. When I was pregnant with my second child, my husband and I thought it would be neat to welcome an AFS student and expose our 3-year-old to a new culture and an older brother. Sandro from Switzerland was quickly snagged up by a more permanent family but kindly stayed connected to us throughout his exchange year (and beyond), much to the delight of our son. We look forward to having the space to host again one day, and we hope our children will become AFSers too. Our story isn’t particularly unique or special, though it still astounds me that once I became part of the AFS family, I never really left. And I’m so grateful for how AFS has given my life such a depth of meaning.”


Isaiah Voss

Alumnus, U.S. to Brazil, 2014-2015

“AFS quite literally changed me forever. I studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain 2014-2015. I still keep in touch with some of the friends I made. I made such a strong connection to Spain that I ended up coming back for my four-year degree at Saint Louis University’s Madrid Campus. After graduating with a degree in Spanish Language & Literature, I started working at a Google Partner in Madrid where I currently live. I since have returned to SLU-Madrid to work in their Marketing & Communications Department. Just today (Oct. 30), I visited the high school I studied at while in Barcelona during a weekend getaway. […]”

Carlos M. Ribas

Alumnus, 1962
“I was an exchange student (the first) for Mc Henry HS, Illinois, back in 1962.

Great life experience that widened my view of the world. […] Still in touch with my US Family […].”


Lacey Bruce

Host Parent and Volunteer

“In August of 2021 we made a very Last Minute decision to explore the possibility of hosting an AFS student. We anticipated this would occur the following school year, but upon speak with AFS we were made aware of a boy from Switzerland who still needed placement due to his original placement school not accepting students. The kind lady from AFS told us to take a couple of hours and decide if he was the right match for us. As my husband, two sons and I read through Sebastian’s letter we decided to take a leap of faith and become his host family. At that time we thought we were just bringing a little culture to our teen sons’ lives in rural Wisconsin. Little did we know what a truly exceptional adventure we were about to embark on. We got our cultural experience, but we also got a son and a brother. Sebastian was a piece to our family we didn’t even know we were missing. Him being a part of our family made us a stronger, better family in many ways. When Sebastian’s exchange year ended in June of 2022, we all found it more difficult to say good bye than we could have imagined. By this point, we had the opportunity to meet his parents who surprised him for his graduation, and we immediately loved them as well. Sebastian has thankfully already been back for a visit this past winter. To have all of our boys back together again brought such joy to my heart. As my one son said, we are just better as a family of five and having Sebastian here…how true! Our flights are booked for July when we will travel to Switzerland for two weeks to stay with Sebastian, his parents, and his younger brother, who thanks to social media, we have been able to get to know as well. Rarely does a day pass on which we don’t have some form of communication with Sebastian and we are very grateful for that! We credit AFS for matching us so well and giving us the opportunity to add to our family. After such a positive host family experience, I am convinced everyone should try hosting a student to experience all of the joy, love, and laughter that we have. I therefore became a volunteer with AFS to try and give back to an organization that gave us so much!”

Teresa and Alessio in Tirane, Albania (1)

Theresa Cheng DDS

Alumnus, Malaysia to U.S., 1975
Founder of Everyone for Veterans

“I was hosted at the Shultz apple orchard and the Krulls Dairy Farm! It was my first experience of picking apples and watching cows being milked! I have returned to Lake Mills several times and the Krull sisters have visited me in Seattle, WA where I reside presently. I am very grateful to the host families for a wonderful year of experience and personal growth…last week I was in Tirane, Albania, going through a museum…and [there was a] young man there…as we were exchanging that I was from USA and he was from Italy, he mentioned that he was an exchange student in Minnesota for a year. Soon as I heard that, I asked what program.  With his reply of AFS, I felt a kindred spirit! My husband and I had a great time at lunch with Alessio and learned a little about him. It was great fun! He was AFS [class of 2017] and I was AFS [class of 1975]. Fancy us getting connected in Albania! We hope to keep in touch.”

Richard Opper Headshot

Richard Opper

Alumnus, U.S. to Denmark

“I attended a newly built high school in Fresno California, and it had never had an exchange student leave to go abroad. No one was sure how I should go about it, but I was excited about trying, so I wrote an essay indicating how interested I would be to go to Japan for a year (my father taught Asian Art at Fresno State College). I was over the moon when I was accepted to spend a year abroad – in Denmark!!
I knew very little about Denmark at the time, but I was thrilled to be getting out into the world, and the more I read and learned about Denmark the more interesting it became. When my cohorts and I finally got there we stayed at a language school, but I played hooky to ride around the local hills on a bicycle. It was fabulous. My Danish family absorbed me like a sponge, and I somehow found myself speaking Danish in a couple of months. I have been back to visit my family a few times, and they’ve come out to visit me in California, and I am still relatively fluent in Danish. I harbor a great love for Denmark and the Danes, but most of all, I feel like I really am part of a Danish family, and they are part of mine. Even more than 50 years later.”

Jonathan Hollander 75th Anniversary Story

Jonathan Hollander

Alumnus, U.S. to India, Summer program, 1968

“Svati Kania is my cousin through my AFS host family.  She’s a generation younger than me but my family from 1968 and I are still deeply connected across the generations, and Svati serves as a Board Member of Battery Dance, the non-profit performing arts organization I founded 8 years after my AFS India experience. This photo was taken on May 18th at the Battery Dance gala dinner! ” Photo by Claudio Rodriguez

Thank you AFS-USA Schools!

AFS high school exchanges started with students in 10 schools in the Midwest and East Coast areas of the United States and have grown to include thousands of students each year traveling into and out of the U.S. Thank you to all schools supporting our mission of creating a more just and peaceful world by empowering people to become globally engaged citizens:

75th Anniversary School Recognition Page