How did you learn about AFS and what prompted you to get involved?
I was an exchange student on the CBYX program with AFS.
What keeps you coming back to volunteer each year?
When I came back from Germany, I wanted to continue to interact with people from all different backgrounds all over the world. AFS students always have unique skills, interests and memories that keep me open-minded. The students give me new perspectives and I hope I can help make their exchange experiences valuable in return.
What’s a typical volunteer “shift” like for you?
For example, at an orientation, I’ll spend a few hours in sessions with students, trying to get them to open up about their concerns or to tell their favorite stories in a group setting. This is usually followed by meals and group activities with happy chatter about different cultures and the weirdest American customs. Occasionally, I have one-on-one meetings with a student or a volunteer to follow up on upcoming events or paperwork.
What have you learned or how have you been personally affected by your experience with AFS?
Adaptability and perspective. We are all people who share desires, dreams and fears, but it’s remarkable how differently they manifest and how differently we express them. AFS students have so much in common and so much that’s different, and working with them is a great way to learn how to adapt to all sorts of personalities, to get along with all kinds of people.
Please share the best or funniest thing that’s happened to you while volunteering with AFS?
Once, I brought a water gun to an AFS event. I didn’t bring any for the students. It was a massacre.
What do you want to say to people who might be interested in volunteering with AFS?
You are guaranteed to learn something new and meet some of the most interesting people you’ll find.
What is the one thing AFS volunteers and staff don’t know about you?
I learned German from Harry Potter — that is, I learned by reading the books in German during my first few months in Germany.