Finding community at an AFS study abroad fundraising event

Approximately 150 people turned out Friday night March 9th for AFS Greater Charlotte’s #PassPeaceForward Event & Fundraiser, the Charlotte region’s largest study abroad fundraising event for their foreign exchange programs.

The reception, held at the top of One Wells Fargo, overlooking a beautiful clear uptown skyline, featured speeches stressing the importance of global peace within our local community by Mujtaba Mohammed, member of the Leading on Opportunity Council, and Jenny Messner, Founder of the successful Speedwell Foundation Scholarship Program.

After days of reaction to the Florida school shooting, the event comes at a time when we see students standing up to make an impact on their future.  “We should arm our students,”  said Rebecka Nelli, AFS volunteer.  “Arm them with the knowledge the world has to offer in successes and failures.  Arm them with the compassion and empathy grown from experiencing other cultures.  Arm them with the leadership and confidence to make a difference.  These are exactly what student exchange is proven to give.”

In his remarks, Mujtaba Mohammed spoke about the three determinants of economic mobility – early education, college/career readiness, and family stability.  An assistant public defender defending the underprivileged and an active supporter of children’s issues, he passionately described the struggles he sees every day when these things are not available.  He explained the importance of equality of opportunity and of connecting diverse communities.  Mr. Mohammed tied these goals to the goals of AFS in Greater Charlotte.

The group in attendance was an excellent example of how the community works together to create an impact, including representatives from government leadership, similar nonprofits, corporate and individual donors, along with AFS participants both past and present.  Exchange students from 16 countries, who are currently attending high schools across Charlotte, were there to mingle and answer questions about their countries and their experiences.

The money raised by AFS Greater Charlotte on Friday night will go toward supporting scholarships for Charlotte-area high school students to study in foreign countries.  Last year our study abroad fundraising efforts were able to provide a scholarship for one student to study abroad, and we are excited that this event has allowed us the fund our second year of scholarship locally.  Friday’s event was co-sponsored with generous support from PNC Bank, Garfinkel Immigration Law,  and St Matthew Church.

As of this Monday, we are receiving scholarship applications for summer, semester, or full year.  Charlotte-area people, can help, too: AFS Greater Charlotte is looking for host families for the 2018-19 school year and for volunteers and partners. “We are a tiny group with mighty goals,” says Nelli.  For more information, contact Rebecka Nelli at [email protected]. Or check out our AFS Greater Charlotte web page.