How did you learn about AFS and what prompted you to get involved?
I learned about AFS when I was 16 from a co-worker who was preparing to go to Germany for a semester. It sounded like an amazing opportunity and I immediately began pursuing my own exchange experience. I had always been curious about the world and jumped at the chance to be an AFSer.
What keeps you coming back to volunteer each year?
Seeing the impact that a successful exchange has not only on the participant, but on their host family, natural family, classmates, neighbors and everyone else they may encounter during and after their time abroad keeps me coming back to AFS. It’s such a powerful experience.
What’s a typical volunteer “shift” like for you?
I volunteer at my area team’s orientations, co-leading groups of hosted students or host siblings. As a high school Spanish teacher, I’m constantly encouraging my students to host and study abroad. I also spend a ton of time online answering questions from prospective students.
What have you learned or how have you been personally affected by your experience with AFS?
I don’t even know where to begin. Most recently, I was offered a job when I asked a school about a PAF! Between my Spanish fluency and intercultural communication experience, almost every job and significant academic experience I’ve had is a direct result of being an AFSer.
Meeting people from all over the word makes everything that happens human, both good and bad. The first step towards building a more just and peaceful world is recognizing and respecting the humanity of people different from ourselves.
Please share the best or the funniest thing that’s happened to you while volunteering with AFS.
The best part about being involved with AFS is having family and friends everywhere.
What do you want to say to people who might be interested in volunteering with AFS?
If you’ve been considering volunteering, do it! Make your commitment known and get involved in any way you can. It’s an amazing experience, and even a small time commitment can make a huge, positive difference.