Meet Danielle Tye…This is her 11th year volunteering with AFS! When people ask what her hobbies are, she always says “AFS.” Whether serving on the National Council, planning the National Volunteer Assembly or coordinating orientations, Danielle’s energy is limitless.  Through volunteering with AFS, Danielle knows that she is changing someone’s life.  The box of thank you messages she has received from students over the years is living proof of this.  Here is her AFS story.

How did you learn about AFS and what prompted you to get involved?

I first learned about AFS in high school. I was just another student who thought the AFS students attending my school were really cool! Some of my best friends were and still are the AFS students I met at Truman High School in Independence, MO. I wanted to be involved because I really enjoyed learning about other cultures and the history of AFS was intriguing. My involvement with AFS also prompted me to study abroad on my own in France and to spend some time in Germany.

What keeps you coming back to volunteer each year?

I continue to volunteer for AFS because I know I am making a difference. Whether it’s on a national level that helps the organization as a whole or the local level by having fun orientations and events with hosted students, I know I am changing someone’s life through volunteering. I have a small box of thank you letters and messages I have received from the students over the years. These messages talk about how much they learned from me and my team or how much they appreciate me taking the time out of my personal life to help them grow and succeed. It’s the greatest feeling in the world for me!

What’s a typical volunteer “shift” like for you?

Honestly, I am non-stop. I spend anywhere from 20-40 hours a week on AFS. I am on the National Council, NVA Planning Vice-Chair, Communications Exchange Advisory Group Chair, and Orientations Coordinator locally. That’s not including the additional idea exchange and collaboration I do on projects with fellow volunteers and staff on an adhoc basis. My days and weeks can get crazy but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What have you learned or how have you been personally affected by your experience with AFS?

I grew up with AFS. AFS has definitely helped mold me into the person I am today. I have learned so much about myself and others, not only on a cultural level! AFS has helped me through some hard times and made me shine in the best of times. AFS has instilled a passion in me that I can’t seem to find anywhere else. AFS has taught me the importance of understanding and creating awareness to facilitate a more peaceful world. When people ask me my hobbies I always say “AFS.”

Please share the best thing or funniest thing that’s happened to you while volunteering with AFS?

Where do I even start?!

One of my most memorable experiences with AFS was getting to go to Malaysia as a flight chaperon in 2014. I was able to attend the AFS Malaysia Farewell dinner with my aunt who visited me during an extended stay in Kuala Lumpur. I thought originally I was going to just be with a small group of American students and some volunteers. Little did I know I would be a guest of honor seated at a table with the AFS Malaysia National Director, the Director of Malaysia’s Ministry of Education and ambassadors from Italy, Argentina, Belgium and Austria. On top of being surrounded by outstanding people, I got to hear stories and gratitude from all 50+ students who were hosted in Malaysia that year and the volunteers who helped support them. As I sat there in the sari I tied myself, all I could think about was how I am truly a part of something bigger than I ever imagined. This experience gave me a better appreciation for what we do as volunteers and how many of us there are out there in the world making a difference through AFS.

Another best thing is getting to spend time with students and like-minded volunteers. I can’t get enough of watching students and families learn so much about culture and life in general through each other. Being able to collaborate with excited volunteers to help foster this relationship is also so much fun!

What do you want to say to people who might be interested in volunteering with AFS?

If you are even considering volunteering with AFS, just do it. The people you meet, experiences you have and things you learn while volunteering are priceless. If you want to make a difference in the world and actually see it happen, this is the place to be. With AFS, not only are you volunteering to help others, but you are learning so much about yourself and the world around you at the same time.

What’s one thing AFS volunteers and staff don’t know about you?

I am an open book!! I can’t think of anything interesting that people don’t already.