A Message from Tara Hofmann

Tara Hofmann Headshot

As we begin a new year at AFS-USA (and the second half of our 75th anniversary), together, we have turned a corner in what has been one of the most challenging periods in our history, COVID.

I don’t say this lightly—without the sustained support, engagement, and generosity of you all, so many of whom are former students, AFS-USA would not be here today.

Yes, it’s true, many challenges are still with us. Financial stabilization and raising more funds for need-based scholarships are at the top of our strategic priorities, as is increasing and expanding how we work with high schools across our nation.

We are also experiencing more students reaching out to us with a desire to study abroad—and we need and must be able to send them. This is especially true for the students from underserved communities who study abroad through our AFS-USA Faces of America program.

During the past 75 years, well over 150,000 international high school students have participated in an exchange to or from the US and more than 50,000 US volunteers have dedicated their time to students, host families, schools, and their communities as they carry the AFS Mission forward.

Multiply these numbers with the hundreds and even thousands of people touched by a single person…this is what our founders, the American Field Service Ambulance Drivers of WWI and WWII hoped for.

Together, we are creating active global citizens—people whose informed, compassionate, and ethical compass drives them to lead lives and make decisions that contribute to a more just, equitable, peaceful and sustainable world.

Thank you,
Tara M. Hofmann
President and Chief Executive Officer

Group at the AFS-USA Volunteer Summit

Stacy E. White, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Professional and Cultural Exchanges (center), gave a keynote address at the AFS-USA Volunteer Summit in St. Louis. Joining DAS White for a photo are: Wendy Kuran, AFS-USA Board Chair (left), and President and CEO Tara Hofmann (right), joined by international students who are being hosted in St. Louis.

Jack Forté Headshot
Passing of AFS Ambulance Driver and Founder, Jack Forté

John H. Forté (Jack), WWII AFS Driver and a founder of the American Field Service, passed away in Naples, Florida on December 22 at the age of 98.

Jack studied at Harvard College before joining the American Field Service during WWII. Ineligible for the American Armed Services due to a head injury as a boy, he drove ambulances for AFS in Cassino and in central Italy.

Throughout his life, Jack supported AFS in so many ways, especially enabling students to study abroad through scholarships made possible by his generous endowed and annual gifts to AFS-USA.

AFS has lost a very dear friend who personified the mission of AFS. Mr. Forté did, indeed, create a more just and peaceful world and we will miss him dearly. To learn more about the life of Mr. Forté, view the text of his obituary from The Boston Globe.

Sohaylah celebrates her host cousin's birthday at a bowling alley with her host family in South Bend, Indiana.
If you have ever thought about hosting a student, now is the time!

“I felt like Ricardo changed my life because he made me understand that it’s not where you come from. It’s not what language you speak, or what your culture is. It’s the soul that you connect with. And an AFS experience should be required of all human beings because with that kind of exposure to other cultures and other people, we simply would not have so many global conflicts and wars.” – AFS-USA Host Mom

As we continue our 75th milestone of Creating Global Citizens, please consider becoming a host family or volunteer. Now’s the time! Please reach out for more information at: [email protected].

Alumni Reunion

50 Years Later: AFS Alumni Reunion

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

In 1972, 20 students from America, along with two from New Zealand and Argentina (making it a then-experimental “Multinational” program) embarked on a year abroad program to live with families and attend high school in Austria through AFS.

In September 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 at the family farm homestead of one of the members. Peter Robinson, AFS-USA Board member, host parent and alum, US to Austria 1972-73 reported on this memorable event:

“The long weekend included hikes reminiscent of good times in Austria and Italy (where we convened for a service program week) with friends and host siblings, as well as a video chat with our fellow alumni who could not be there in person. This 50th reunion overflowed with memories, love, laughter, conversation, hugs, delicious food, good cheer, good Austrian wine, and singing our favorite Austrian folk songs — just like we used to do 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. Our lives have gone in different directions, but all have a common denominator: AFS. We have gotten together for periodic reunions over the years but won’t wait around for any special number of years for the next one—indeed we are considering reuniting in Austria in the next couple of years!”

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.

If you would like to consider hosting your AFS-USA Reunion, contact: [email protected]

Working in Partnership with Schools

AFS-USA is currently partnering with more than 725 high schools across the US! As we work with schools that send US students and welcome students from abroad, we also provide classroom resources for teachers and virtual learning so that all students in US classrooms benefit. With classroom resources for teachers and virtual learning, AFS remains a leader helping students and educators become global citizens through their partnership with schools. If you’re currently working within a school system and would like to partner with AFS-USA, please contact Jill Woerner at [email protected].

Check out what Paul Butler, Principal at Bangor High School in Maine, had to say about AFS:

Thank you for recognizing Bangor High School for its support of cultural exchange and the rich and diverse experiences that our longtime partnership with AFS has facilitated over many years– and even before my time walking the halls as a BHS student.

The world certainly has shrunk in many ways, but nothing will replace the value of in-person connections that come through cultural exchange.

Congratulations to AFS on 75 years, and best of luck moving forward.”

Open Doors Logo

2022 Open Doors Report

The Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange is released by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and the Institute of International Education (IIE).

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “When international students come to the United States—and when Americans study abroad—they bring their talents, perspectives, and cultures to their new communities. And when they work with peers to advance research and knowledge, they spark innovation and forge bonds across borders that can last a lifetime.”

We are proud to report that international student numbers in the US are on the rise. During the 2021-22 academic year 948,519 international students studied in the US, which is 4% more than the previous academic year. China, India, and South Korea remain the top three countries who send students abroad.

Alumni Spotlight Jessica Duhon Headshot

Alumni Spotlight: Jessica Duhon

Meet Jessica Duhon, Program Coordinator in the Meridian Center for Global Leadership. Jessica was first exposed to international exchange when she began volunteering with AFS-USA in her hometown of Durham, North Carolina. Inspired by her experience, Jessica studied abroad in China for 10 months after her junior year of high school and decided to pursue undergraduate studies in International Affairs and Asian Studies with a minor in Chinese at Georgetown.

Jessica is passionate about promoting intercultural understanding and cooperation through international education and exchange. Previously, she interned at the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). Feel free to connect with Jessica at: [email protected].

If you would like to be considered for our Alumni Spotlight, email: [email protected].


Listen to the AFS Exchange Podcast: AFS-USA Faces of America Scholarship Program

The AFS Exchange is a podcast featuring conversations with AFS-USA host families, students, volunteers, and educators. In each episode, we hear from our guests on how their lives have been impacted by AFS-USA. Our latest podcast features our Faces of America Scholarship. For more than 20 years, the Faces of America scholarship program has enabled high school students from very diverse backgrounds, whether that is socio-economic, geographic, or different cultural groups and communities within the US, with access to the opportunity to study abroad on an AFS exchange program.

This episode features three people—two of whom are AFS-USA Volunteers, affiliated with two of the community-based organizations that work with Faces of America. The Dean’s Future Scholars Program in Reno, Nevada and the QUEST Scholarship Fund in St. Louis, Missouri.

Listen to the Episode

New information on Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs)
A tax-saving way for many AFS-USA donors to support our mission.

As many are aware, President Biden recently signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, which includes a provision known as Secure 2.0. This new legislation:

·Raises the age for Required Minimum Distributions from IRAs, from 72 (in 2022) to 73 in 2023, and 75 in 2033.

·Enables IRA owners to make gifts greater than the previous “cap” of $100,000 to nonprofits and have them count as Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs), helping a donor’s giving to keep pace with inflation and their assets

A Qualified Charitable Distribution, also known as an “IRA Charitable Rollover Gift,” is a direct transfer of funds from an individual’s IRA account to a qualified nonprofit. But instead of increasing itemized deductions (which most donors do not take), QCDs decrease taxable income and are an excellent way for donors to meet their Required Minimum Distribution.

In addition, QCDs are one of the best ways for donors to see meaningful tax benefits from their charitable contributions. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 nearly doubled the previous standard deduction and capped the itemized deduction for state and local taxes at $10,000 per year. Since then, most taxpayers have received bigger tax breaks from taking standard deductions than they have from itemizing deductions like charitable contributions. This legislation led to a big drop in the overall number of taxpayers itemizing deductions, falling from around 30% of taxpayers in 2017 to 10% after the 2018 tax year.

However, when traditional IRA owners give QCDs instead of cash, those gifts don’t get itemized. Instead, they are deducted from the donor’s overall taxable income, providing benefits to both the donor and the recipient organization. As AFS-USA’s mission grows increasingly critical each day, we encourage donors who are age 70 and above to seek the counsel of their IRA administrator or financial advisor for specific information and to see if a QCD is an appropriate means of supporting our organization’s work.

Jessica is passionate about promoting intercultural understanding and cooperation through international education and exchange. Previously, she interned at the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). Feel free to connect with Jessica at: [email protected].

If you would like to be considered for our Alumni Spotlight, email: [email protected].

How can you get involved with AFS-USA? Watch the latest Fireside Chat!

AFS-USA Fireside Chats feature President and CEO, Tara Hofmann and special guests who are active global citizens—people whose informed, compassionate, and ethical compass drives them to lead lives and make decisions that contribute to a more just, equitable, peaceful and sustainable world.

This Fireside Chat features Joan Siegel, AFS-USA Volunteer in the Capital Team in the Washington, DC area who has assumed many roles and responsibilities with AFS-USA, beginning with her exchange to Japan.

Watch the Fireside Chat