How did you learn about AFS and what prompted you to get involved?
I was a teacher at Washburn High School where the French teacher started the AFS program at our school in the early 80’s. When my own children were in high school I started volunteering with AFS. A friend hosted a girl from Venezuela and I really liked her. So we decided to host at the last minute and ended up hosting a boy from Venezuela! After he left us I wanted to make sure that more families would have the AFS experience, so in 2005 we hosted again, this time, a girl from Germany.
What keeps you coming back to volunteer each year?
The AFS mission keeps me coming back. I really believe that we need to build positive relationships between the youth of the world. I am hopeful that the relationships built will bring peace to our world. I have had so many positive experiences with the students that come here to the Chequamegon Bay area that I want to see it continue.
What’s a typical volunteer “shift” like for you?
I am treasurer for the area team and chapter so there are times where there is a lot of paper pushing. I am also the hosting coordinator and a liaison. This allows me to meet really cool people and do more paperwork! I enjoy the interaction with the families the best but someone has to do the paperwork. Our Team Development Specialist, Lisa Abeles-Allison, is a great help and since we live in the same city it is convenient and we can work together.
What have you learned or how have you been personally affected by your experience with AFS?
Once you have been a host family you have permanently added a child to your family. That is the best experience. When we are not hosting, I like to get to know the students and their cultures. Again, I am totally moved to volunteer by the mission of AFS.
Please share the best or funniest thing that’s happened to you while volunteering with AFS?
I think the best thing was a trip that I took this year to Minneapolis with two Indonesian boys and a boy from Pakistan to a game between the Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors. The trip’s idea originated when I was taking Nabil to Duluth for surgery. I asked him what was on his bucket list and he said he wanted to go to a professional basketball game. While he was in surgery I went on my phone and got a trip planned. Thanks to the generosity of a young couple in the Twin Cities, we had a place to stay and they sponsored the boys and me with tickets to the game.
What do you want to say to people who might be interested in volunteering with AFS?
AFS changes lives! Hosting an AFS student allows you to “see” your community through new eyes. I had forgotten just how beautiful of a place we live in. When you host you go back to those places that you have taken for granted for a while. And, of course, it is fun to have another lively, excited person in your home.