How did you learn about AFS and what prompted you to get involved?
Patti is an AFS returnee (Costa Rica, 1966) and learned about AFS from her high school’s AFS club(and a crush on AFSer Rolf from Germany)! Janne remembers first getting involved with an AFS chapter at Gallaudet University, helping place deaf students.
What keeps you coming back to volunteer each year?
Janne: The students and the volunteers! I really enjoy getting to know the hosted students and helping support them during this special time in their lives.
Patti: I really like the other volutneers, the spirit of working together to help students, hoping to make a difference in people’s lives.
What’s a typical volunteer “shift” like for you?
Patti: That really depends on where we are int he hosting cycle. It seems like the late fall, after the “honeymoon” is over, Janne and I are heavily involved in helping people identify problems and facilitating their figuring out solutions.
Janne: As Support Coordinator, it’s sort of like being on call 24/7. I am grateful that I’m able to share this role with the multi-talented Patti Rounsevell. She and I make a very good team! We’re able to share the load, plan and problem-solve together. We accomplish much more together than we ever could separately.
What have you learned or how have you been personally affected by your experience with AFS?
Janne: I’ve learned how easy it is for this huge, complex world to feel more intimate and accesible when we make personal connections with one another. The AFS mission is not just words on paper… it’s what really happens, and it’s vitally important, especially now.
Patti: The best part of staying involved is reconnecting. It gives me a lot of pleasure to still be helpful to people from all over the world, to be able to watch them grow and to love and be loved by them.
Please share the best or the funniest thing that’s happened to you while volunteering with AFS.
Patti: The best thing? Becoming friends with fellow volunteers, especially Janne!
Janne: There are so many wonderful personal connections that I’ve made. However, to pick one, I would have to say it’s the relationship with our AFS German daughter, Johanna.
What do you want to say to people who might be interested in volunteering with AFS?
Patti: We are a welcoming group where everyone can find a way to help. Start with something small – flip burgers at a picnic – and that will grow into something bigger. The other thing I like to keep in mind is that the kids we help are people who will make a difference in the lives of others, so our helping them now does a lot towards making the world a better place.
Janne: When I talk with people, I try to tap into their interests. I tell them how much fun it is to get to know these amazing young people from all over the world and help make their experience here a rewarding one, and I emphasize the many different ways that volunteers may contribute.
What’s one thing AFS volunteers and staff don’t know about you?
Janne: “Back in the day” I performed in the musical “Godspell” with a touring company of deaf and hearing impaired performers, at the prestigious Sadler’s Wells Theater in the West End of London.
Patti: I spent my 12th birthday snowbound in Andorra.