AFS-USA embraces diversity at all levels of the organization. From our program participants, to our trained volunteers, to our skilled and dedicated staff members, we are working to ensure that the “AFS Family” represents the full spectrum of diversity in the U.S. We value inclusion, and we work to provide life-changing international and intercultural learning experiences to include individuals from all backgrounds, including persons with disabilities and those representing all genders, nationalities, races, and religions. We believe that appreciating diversity brings people together, and we know that fostering inclusion is essential to fulfilling our mission of creating a more just and peaceful world.
We provide a variety of scholarships to make access to study abroad more equitable, and we work to develop curriculum that addresses the diverse needs and interests of our participants. From programs focused on STEM education to Cultural Heritage programs that allow students to explore the countries and traditions tied to their family origins, we aim to make study abroad more accessible and meaningful for all participants (non and US Citizens).
As a global organization, AFS-USA is committed to supporting non-US citizens on our programs. As non-US citizens require special processes to enter, remain, and exit the countries our programs operate in, AFS will support these students to the best of our ability.
AFS-USA welcomes the participation of non-US Citizens across our programs.
As an immigrant…I am culturally different from mainstream American culture; however, this made the experience more enriching for both the host family and the exchange students.- Esteban A. AFS Returnee, USA to Germany
Over the years, I’ve hosted 12 times with students from around the world including Kenya, Thailand, Malaysia, and Ghana. I made the decision to open my home in Cleveland, OH to AFS students, as host families have done for my own children who studied abroad in Japan and Thailand. It’s so important that international students are exposed to families that truly reflect the diverse cultures and ethnicities represented across the United States. I’m fortunate to share my culture not just as an American, but as an African-American Family.- Carla B, AFS Host Family
I work with the AFS-USA Faces of America diversity scholarship program so that cultural differences won’t bar any students from studying abroad and [experiencing a new] environment that will shift their mindset.- Souleyman "Soul" T., AFS Volunteer
As a Host Family for an international AFS Exchange Student, LGBTQ individuals, couples and families can make a profound impact in the life of a young person, while also opening up their own world. We also welcome the contributions of LGBTQ individuals as volunteers, who support intercultural learning through a variety of opportunities that draw on their unique strengths and interests.
For LGBTQ students, we work to provide positive and meaningful intercultural learning experiences abroad, taking care to address their individual concerns and ensure their safety and comfort while on program.
Read our LGBTQ+ FAQs for studying abroad or hosting a student.
At 16, I was still grappling with my identity and I could not anticipate how much my time abroad would help me grow personally and discover who I am while also learning about Honduran culture and society. Now, at 25 years old, I identify as a gay member of the LGBTQ community… I credit my AFS experience as a key step in my journey.- Justin D., AFS Returnee, USA to Honduras
Hosting exchange students gave me and my husband the opportunity to experience the joys and the challenges of being a parent - experiences we had long assumed we'd never have. Parenting is sometimes a tough job, but it results in a new depth of skill and knowledge and, of course, lifelong memories.- Melvin and Manny, AFS Host family
Within days of connecting with AFS locally, I found myself at the Seattle–Tacoma airport with my first assignment — to welcome exchange students from Thailand and Ecuador. I had already had a life-changing experience as a student abroad; little did I know that the biggest changes would happen right here at home.- Damian P., AFS Volunteer
AFS-USA is proud to partner with organizations to realize a common goal of ensuring all have access to educational opportunities, no matter their background. These partnerships help individuals from diverse communities achieve their potential and gain access to learning opportunities that open their eyes to a world of possibilities.
Faces of America is a 21st century model for public-private-nonprofit partnership. AFS-USA professional staff and volunteers working hand-in-hand with a consortium of community- and school-based nonprofit youth service organizations in urban centers from coast to coast. Learn more about our partners Community Based Organizations
At AFS-USA, we are committed to increasing opportunities for, and interaction among, individuals of diverse cultures, classes, races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, ages and more. We believe that facing bias is essential to achieving this goal, and we work to do so honestly and effectively.
AFS-USA's Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group (DIAG) works to evaluate, monitor and implement diversity initiatives across the organization. In collaboration with the Facing Our Biases group, DIAG engages with AFS volunteers and staff to enhance diversity for AFS-USA, understanding our current student, host family, and volunteer demographics, and make recommendations for improving under-represented communities, so that AFS-USA reflects the country as a whole. The aim of which is to improve program quality, access diversity resources, and achieve the AFS mission and vision.
The AFS-USA "Facing Our Biases" work group serves to guide individuals at all levels of the organization in working through any type of bias that leads to marginalization. Through providing educational trainings, reflective analysis and a robust bias response policy, this essential group helps to ensure that we practice the inclusiveness inherent in our mission. AFS-USA Bias Response Policy