We’re Moving Forward Thanks to You

Over the past year, I have heard from many AFS-USA alumni about what AFS-USA means to them and how thankful they were that they had AFS in their lives. As we approach Thanksgiving, I want you to know how much you mean to all of us at AFS-USA and thank you for your support.

While the past year has indeed been challenging, we have had many bright moments. The pandemic moved us to accelerate more virtual programs and improve upon our virtual training and information sessions. We have reached out to educators and provided many with support and new classroom tools so that every student can build their global competency. We have a set of new strategic imperatives to guide us into the future as we become a stronger organization. And most exciting is that we have close to 1,100 exchange students currently in the United States on this year’s program, experiencing high school and American family life. We also have successfully sent 100 U.S. high school students abroad with AFS this school year!

I am appreciative of the generosity of so many alumni and volunteers. As we all look towards a ‘new normal,’ I want you to know that we will stay connected with you by providing information and inspiration as we navigate the next year together.

As always, my door is open, and you can reach me at [email protected]. Thank you for all that you do for AFS-USA, our students, volunteers, and families. Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

Tara M. Hofmann
President and Chief Executive Officer

Group of students with AFS pride flag.

Oliva N. reflects upon her AFS experience in Japan during COVID

It was Olivia’s dream since seventh grade to study in Japan. Looking back in her journal, she realized how much of the past five years were spent studying the language and saving up for a trip. Luckily, support from AFS-USA’s Jack Forté Endowed Scholarship enabled Olivia to achieve a long-held goal, giving her the opportunity to participate in AFS-USA’s 2020 Year Program to Japan.

“As I’m sure everyone is well aware, the trip that I ended up going on was under special circumstances, what with a global pandemic and all,” she wrote. “While I know there were downsides, such as not being able to do much traveling, there was also the fact that thanks to quarantine, I not only made Japanese friends but I became very close with AFSers from all over the world. I can’t help but feel that the 2020 group is a very special one, and I feel lucky to be a part of it. I honestly feel as if I’ve made some of the best friends of my life in that group.”

Olivia’s host family treated her as their own daughter/sister and became like real family to her. Some of the most unforgettable moments of her experience were spending time around the table after dinnertime and laughing and teasing despite the language barrier. Read more.

AFS-USA to Co-Present The Youth Assembly in New York City

AFS-USA is proud to join in partnership with AFS International and the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation to present The Youth Assembly, a three-day event that brings together the world’s foremost young leaders and changemakers to be held in New York City in August 2022. The Youth Assembly delegates, age 18 to 32, come from more than 100 countries and possess strong leadership potential as well as keen interest in global issues.

Since its launch in 2004, the Youth Assembly has been a global gathering of 600-800 young leaders, social entrepreneurs, activists, and champions of sustainable development. It provides a platform for meaningful dialogue and partnership between youth, civil society, the private sector, and the United Nations. At the Assembly, young people have access to tools, knowledge, and skills to create action- oriented solutions that help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Call for Program Proposals are open in December 2021, followed by early bird registrations for the event in February 2022. For more information email [email protected] and use the subject line Youth Assembly.

Meet our Five New AFS-USA Board of Directors Members

AFS-USA is pleased to welcome five new Directors to the AFS-USA Board. Joining the Board are: John Bacon, AFS Alumnus from the U.S. to Belgium and the Deputy Chief Development Officer for Planned Giving at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City; Clara Berger, AFS Alumna from the U.S. to Ghana who is a Scientist and Economic Analyst at Eastern Research Group; Regina Peszat, Educational Program Consultant for World Languages at the Kansas State Department of Education; Peter Robinson, AFS Alumnus from the U.S. to Austria and the President and CEO of the United States Council for International Business; and Alan Williams , AFS Alumnus from South Africa to the U.S. who served as Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Executive Director for NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

The newly elected Chair of the Board of Directors is Sarah Yancey, AFS-USA Volunteer for nearly forty years and former Teacher and Assistant Principal at Parkway South High School in St. Louis, and Vice-Chair Wendy Kuran, Associate Vice President for Development and Alumni Engagement at Duke Kunshan University and Duke in China. Read more.

Did your AFS experience change your life? Leave a legacy for future generations with a planned gift. 

When you include AFS-USA in your will and estate plans, you help to ensure financial stability and program excellence for coming generations of young people. And, you don’t need to be wealthy or retiring to make a planned gift to AFS-USA; it can be done at any point in time.

If you would like to discuss your interest in making a planned gift to AFS-USA – without any obligation – please reach out to Jonathan Gross, Director of Development, at 646-751-2011 or by email at [email protected].

The Gail Meaker Challenge – Met!

In an incredible show of gratitude for her AFS-USA experience, Gail Meaker (U.S. to Finland, 1973) left a generous bequest to the organization she loved. Gail’s generosity enabled AFS-USA to establish the Gail Meaker Matching Gift Campaign, and we are thrilled to announce that we have met this $125,000 challenge! We are grateful to the hundreds of donors who helped us respond to this special opportunity, which will help more AFS students have their own experience of a lifetime.

Host a Student in January 2022!

Did you know that there are students arriving for a semester in January? You can view the students arriving to your area using our Meet the Students tool! Learn more about hosting for a semester by attending our next host family info session or emailing [email protected]. If you’re not available to host, consider referring a family; you know firsthand how rewarding it can be.

Is your AFS Class planning a reunion? If your group is planning an AFS-USA Reunion, please let us know by emailing [email protected]. We may be able to assist you, and we’d love to know about it!