Meet Bob Rushing of Silverspring, Maryland. He’s a long-time AFSer who has worn numerous hats in the organization, from host brother to host dad to volunteer. Here is his AFS story:
How did you learn about AFS and what prompted you to get involved?
In 1963, my high school welcomed its first AFS exchange student, with whom I became friends. Also, around 1970, my parents hosted Bernd, a boy from Germany. They enjoyed it a lot, so when my own kids were in high school, we hosted Gundula from Germany. It was such a great experience for our whole family that I decided to do whatever I could to help others have a similar experience.
What keeps you coming back to volunteer each year?
The exchange students, the host families, the AFS staff and the volunteers are some of the nicest, most generous people I know. It’s a pleasure to be around them.
What’s a typical volunteer ‘shift’ like for you?
Each ‘shift’ is different, but I do spend a lot of my time recruiting host families. Every few days I go down the list of possible families and make calls or send emails to tell them about the joys of hosting. Once a family is interested, I help them select the right student, complete the paperwork, etc. I also enjoy being a liaison for a student each year and learning about his or her home country.
What have you learned or how have you been personally impacted by your AFS experience?
I’ve met a lot of great people and have had the pleasure of watching a great many exchange students learn about the US and grow in maturity, independence, capability, and confidence.
What is the best or funniest thing that’s happened to you while volunteering with AFS?
The funniest conversation I’ve had with an exchange student had to be the one I had with Marta from Costa Rica. She tried to convince my family and guests of the advantages of not having home addresses. She thought not having an address for each house was a good system because it forces people to ask directions, thereby allowing them to meet new people and make new friends. As we say in AFS, not better or worse – just different.
What do you want to say to people who might be interested in volunteering with AFS?
Just do it. You won’t regret it.
What’s one thing AFS volunteers and staff don’t know about you?
I’m a birder and get excited by spotting black throated blue warblers, yellow breasted chats,etc.