Dear AFS-USA Alumni, Families, and Friends,
I hope this newsletter finds you and your family doing well! Whether you studied abroad, hosted a student, sent your child abroad, volunteer or met AFS-USA in some other way, we could not have made it through 2020 without your support.
Yet, as spring reminded us of the power of winter’s roots, we’ve survived, grown, and are looking forward to being a healing force for the world in 2021.
We are dedicating this issue to all of you who have stood by us and continue to do all that you can to create a more just and peaceful world. We are grateful for you all.
As we look forward into 2021, we feel confident in delivering critically important AFS experiences. You don’t need me to tell you that last year was a time of physical isolation for many of us. It’s not surprising then, that the interest in studying abroad is strong, as is the interest of people who want to host a student. This year, we are planning to provide meaningful experiences to students from 83 countries who will, like you all, carry the AFS Mission forward.
As the world emerges and seeks to affirm a global community, AFS-USA is as important now as it was in 1947. And, especially when unforeseen situations arise anywhere in the world, our mission of empowering people to become globally engaged citizens becomes critically important, and often urgent.
I know you will be pleased and proud to learn that AFS-USA students are going back to school! As we work in partnership with thousands of educators, we are looking forward to helping to create a new generation of global citizens.
Sending our gratitude,
Tara M. Hofmann
President and Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Theresa Cheng, Recipient of the 2021 American Dental Association’s Humanitarian Award
AFS-USA congratulates Dr. Theresa Cheng, (Malaysia to the U.S., 1975) who is the recipient of the 2021 American Dental Association’s Humanitarian Award for her commitment to ensuring that combat veterans across the U.S. can receive the dental care they need.
In 2008, Dr. Cheng started helping veterans and their families with free dental care, and in 2016 founded Everyone for Veterans, www.everyoneforveterans.org, a nonprofit organization that utilizes the power of local communities to provide services and goods for combat veterans in the U.S. To-date, she has provided free dental care to veterans in more than 30 states.
Congratulations to AFS Alumni (U.S. to Argentina) who Reconnected for a Virtual 50th Reunion!
Here’s a great video that may spark some memories of your own. What was planned to be about an hour of sharing, turned out to last for four hours! As one participant said:
“There was not a dry eye in the house as we gathered with our cohort. Our lives are forever transformed by the experiences, the friendships, the deepened understandings and the values we developed as participants in our AFS year abroad. We had planned for an hour and a half and stayed on for 4 hours. We agreed that reason our immediate affinity and re-connection was that truly only other AFSers can understand what it means to have been through this kind of transformative life event.”
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!
Remembering American Field Service Volunteer Ambulance Drivers
AFS-USA lost a lifelong friend with the passing of American Field Service World War II volunteer and Life Trustee Richard (Rick) M. Hunt, pictured here in Sri Lanka in 1945, who died on April 10, 2020. Hunt was an 18-year old student at Yale when he enlisted as a volunteer Ambulance Driver with the American Field Service and shipped out to Colombo, Sri Lanka, with his AFS Unit IB-57 (India Burma 57) in May of 1945.
After the war, he went on to have a four-decade long career at Harvard including serving as the University Marshal, Director of the Mellon Faculty Fellowship Program, assistant dean and associate dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, as well as serving on numerous faculty committees. In 1952, Rick was working for Radio Free Europe when he joined the AFS Board and became a generous supporter of the work of AFS. Rick is survived by his wife, Priscilla Stevenson Hunt, their three children, William Hunt, Helen Hunt Bouscaren, and Susan Hunt Hollingsworth, and eight grandchildren.
We also note with sadness the death of Chief Master Sergeant Lee H. “Tiger” Chalifour, U.S. Air Force, Retired, on March 17, 2021. A native of Providence, RI, Lee joined the American Field Service’s Air Ambulance Squadron in 1945 as a volunteer airplane ambulance pilot due to his past experience as a Civil Air Patrol pilot. Lee later served the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force for 30 years, seeing active military service in China-Burma-India; Newfoundland; Panama; Japan; Vietnam; and Germany, first as an Air Evac Technician, then as a B-24 bomber tail gunner; and finally, as a Medical Administrator Superintendent. Among the 24 ribbons he was authorized were the Bronze Star; Purple Heart; Meritorious Service Medal (twice); Air Medal; Air Force Commendation Medal (twice); U.S. and Vietnamese Presidential Unit Citation; Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry; and USAF Outstanding Unit Award. Lee is survived by his wife of more than 55 years, Lt. Col. Mary L. Chalifour, USAF, Ret.; daughters Donna Schultz, Sandra Angell, Patricia Bellisle; stepson James Bromley-Turner; sister Sandra Marsella; 5 grandchildren; and 2 great-grandchildren.
Tribute to Mark Lazar and Gail Meaker – Friends Who Remembered Us
Although Mark Lazar and Gail Meaker never met, they shared many things in common. They each possessed great affection for AFS-USA … AFS experiences absolutely and fundamentally changed their lives … and they both wanted to leave a lasting legacy to the organization they loved.
As with so many others, their AFS experiences enabled them to see the world through a wider lens and their place in it. Today we remember these lives and are humbled by their generosity and goodwill toward AFS-USA and the next generation of AFSers. If you are interested in giving, visit afsusa.org/donate.
How You Can Engage with AFS-USA Today!
AFS-USA Alumni make the best host families. If you would like to learn more about hosting a student coming to your community, please contact [email protected]!
Every few months, AFS-USA hosts virtual town halls for AFS Alumni of all kinds and during those events will often have a panel of alumni based on the theme for the Town Hall (such as language acquisition, careers in government or some other area, etc.)
Do you have a special skill to share with others? Perhaps you work in an area that may interest our young returnees, or can provide advice to alumni based on your career or interests. Let us know by sending an email to [email protected]! We’d also like to hear about any recent accomplishments you’d like to share, or any questions you may have related to AFS.
Share Your Story With Us
In the most recent Town Hall event, AFS-USA Board Member Jane Ransom, pictured above, shared her AFS experience in Italy (1971). Jane is the Executive Director of the American Brain Foundation and a veteran nonprofit executive, having served as chief executive of seven leading non-profit organizations, specializing in leading turn-around and start-up initiatives.
In this recent article, AFS Volunteer Dave Schrader describes his adventure to Austria in 1968! He says, “Over the years, I’ve been back 25 times and often take along my parents, grandmother, aunt, and all 5 of my brothers and sisters. Some of the Austrians have also visited me, including my host brother’s daughters. It’s been a great bonding experience that continues to this day!”
Submit your story today to [email protected].
You can also connect with us and fellow AFS Alumni by becoming a member of the Returnee Reconnect Group on Facebook!