We have many wonderful volunteers who dedicate their time and talents to AFS. In honor of Volunteer Appreciation Month, AFS GPS would like to spotlight and publicly thank one of our outstanding volunteers, Kodee Matz!
Kodee is a recent AFS returnee and volunteer. Kodee studied abroad with AFS in Germany, and has been very active in our local GPS team since his return.
Kodee decided to volunteer with AFS after his year abroad because he saw the importance of AFS volunteers in the many activities arranged for the exchange students. He was also encouraged to volunteer after his rough year abroad; this made Kodee want to volunteer with AFS so that he could help other exchange students have a more positive experience. Kodee was told that once you are an AFS student, you become part of the bigger AFS family and there is a sense of community. He wanted to help and continue to be active in this wonderful AFS family!
Kodee shares, in his own words, his experience with AFS, as a returnee turned volunteer:
My life has been changed in numerous ways. My AFS exchange helped open my eyes and mind to different perspectives and cultures. It allowed me to be more independent and open to change. I now have this cultural understanding and appreciation that much of my generation lacks. I have also adopted many behaviors I developed abroad. For instance, my cuisine has changed to include more German foods and eating techniques; I eat a ton of bread now. And now that I am back in the US, I volunteer with AFS because it further enriches my life by talking and having fun with the numerous volunteers and exchange students in this family.
One of the best memories and feelings I have while I am volunteering with AFS comes from the inclusiveness and acceptance by the other AFSers. I know I am a bit unique because of my age, but I love how when I walk into a room full of exchange students, I can befriend them and hang with them. But at the same time, I am trusted by the adult volunteers to help with things. I like how the exchange students trust me and make me feel welcome into their groups; as if I were still an exchange student.
Volunteering with AFS is very rewarding to Kodee. It helps to open up his mind, makes him think in different ways, be more mature and independent, and be an overall better person. Kodee believes that volunteering for AFS is awesome because your cultural immersion doesn’t end when you get back to the US; it continues as he volunteers with AFS because he gets to interact with kids from all over the world and learn about their cultures and customs. That is why Kodee loves volunteering! It makes him feel like he has a place in a very intricate and expansive family that a lot of other people don’t get to experience.
Thank you, Kodee, for giving your time and enthusiasm to AFS GPS, and for always showing up with a willing, positive attitude a smile, and a laugh. We are happy to have you share your experiences with our hosted students, our local students preparing abroad, and with our other volunteers!