Nicolette is an AFS Exchange Student from South Africa who is spending the school year with a host family in Colorado. She shares her insights on what it means to be an ambassador for peace and cultural understanding as a foreign exchange student, both during her exchange year and beyond.

Peace begins with me.

When I gave presentations in school about my country and culture, I broke down stereotypes and taught about South African language and history. I had so much fun teaching others about my culture, but I also realized that I was learning too! Many teachers and students came to speak to me, and through this communication we can learn and practice understanding, as well as pass peace forward.

Being an AFS Exchange Student means serving as a youth ambassador for peace. I believe that you can help promote peace by leading by example, so that when you are in your host school or in your home country you can promote these skills by practicing them, such as listening, being flexible, compromising, communicating, empathizing and understanding. You can also lead by example by doing simple, kind ‘day to day’ things such as picking up litter that isn’t yours, helping out someone who is in need, admitting your mistakes and compromising.

I learned that during my exchange year I’m faced with many challenges every day, but part of the AFS Effect is that it teaches you to understand why other people think or do things the way they do. It teaches you to understand both sides of the argument and help where needed, to ultimately create peace between the tension and help reach understanding of different beliefs and values.

I believe that if you show kindness and love to others, you can pass peace forward around the world!

***Ready to become an ambassador for peace in your own community? Head over to “meet” the AFS international students coming to your area this fall!