Schools and classrooms can benefit greatly from encouraging their students and families to participate in international exchange opportunities. Whether sending your students abroad or hosting students from around the world, the informal learning that takes place in the hallways, at mealtimes, or spending time with friends and classmates is immeasurable. AFS-USA is proud to partner with schools to create global citizens in their local communities every year.

  1. Broaden Perspectives

  2. Learn Organically from Peers

  3. Develop New Skills

  4. Discover New Interests

  5. Recognize & Respect Difference

  6. Join a Global Community

Impact of an AFS Exchange:

An AFS exchange in either direction builds intercultural and global competence skills for all who choose to engage, including your students, their classmates, their teachers, their coaches, their families, and more.

AFS-USA is poised to help you cultivate global citizens and leaders by helping students to:

  • Broaden their own perspectives and those of the people around them
  • Learn organically from peers in informal settings such as mealtimes and sports practices
  • Develop new skills and abilities in key areas using critical thinking, creativity and problem-solving
  • Discover new interests like activities, foods, traditions, and ideas through interactions with a new culture
  • Recognize and respect differences, and begin to understand that a multicultural and diverse world is more interesting
  • Join a global community where they build bridges between cultures and promote peace and understanding through their thoughts and actions

Supporting a strong engagement with schools and educators is critical to AFS-USA’s work. Watch this panel discussion with several educational professionals – including Josh Amstutz of Winton Woods High School in Cincinnati, OH, who has been named AFS-USA’s Global Educator of the Year – which focuses on why educators consider international exchange to be critical to educating our youth for their futures:

Why Host?

AFS-USA is proud to partner with schools to find ways to embed student exchange into their local communities and take steps to ensure that the school is maximizing its benefits from hosting. Hosting AFS exchange students should be a natural part of the school environment and give back as much to the local school and community as it takes. By hosting an AFS student, schools:

  • Expose their students to a wide variety of cultural backgrounds, languages, and perspectives
  • Showcase their community traditions and what makes their school special
  • Inspire informal learning about the world and its diversity – Provide their communities with opportunities to stay connected to the school by becoming an AFS host family
  • Model volunteerism and community service as a positive American value

We understand that education has taken on a new look and feel over the past few years. Students, families, the U.S. Department of State, and AFS-USA will continue with their goals of intercultural learning and global citizenship while keeping safety as a top priority. Hear directly from Mr. Devoll, principal at Old Rochester Regional High School in Massachussetts, as he advocates to the local School Board for approval to welcome AFS students this year:

Department of State Letter
– Hosting exchange students in your school is a form of public diplomacy that allows schools to serve as models of American culture and values. This letter from the U.S. Department of State is a great reminder of the power of people-to-people exchanges.

Model School Practices – AFS-USA is a long-standing member of the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) and require our programs to meet and exceed these industry standards. Find information about best practices for hosting exchange students.

AFS-USA Prioritizes Safety – We want you to feel safe and reassured about the care and support that the AFS students hosted in your school will receive. Our students and their host families are supported 24/7 by local volunteers and staff members for any safety and health-related needs. All of our participants have comprehensive travel insurance benefits including medical coverage while they are part of an AFS program.

AFS Exchange Podcast – The AFS Exchange is a podcast featuring conversations with AFS-USA educators, host families, volunteers, and students. You’ll find educator-focused episodes in every season of the podcast. In Season 1: Episode 2, hear from three school leaders from throughout the U.S. as they share their insights and the value of hosting AFS exchange students in their schools. In Season 2: Episode 10, learn more about the AFS-USA Global Awards, the workshop that the winning educators get to attend, and the learning and reflection that accompanies both of those experiences.

Learn more about what to expect and how to prepare for hosting AFS exchange students through our School Onboarding Experience, an interactive online module designed to share information and resources that encourage a smooth integration of AFS exchange students into your local school and get you thinking deeply about your school’s goals for hosting. 

Why Encourage Study Abroad?

Over 100 years ago, the founders of AFS discovered the importance and transformative nature of intercultural exchange, the benefits of which still remain true today. Studying and living abroad creates global citizens, equipped with the knowledge and skills to tackle 21st century issues Encouraging your students to begin that journey in high school is a tremendous opportunity for personal growth, , but also a chance for the student to share their experiences and language learning, with your school community when they return.

Visit our study abroad page: Encourage your students to explore the world, boost their language and intercultural skills and to broaden their perspective. Whether for a summer, semester, or year program abroad, studying abroad in high school, improves a student’s college readiness by developing students’ critical thinking, problem solving, and interpersonal communication skills.

Scholarship Opportunities: Every year, we award scholarships to help high school students and recent graduates study abroad and see the world.

Language Proficiency Testing: AFS-USA believes that language learning is one of the most tangible benefits from participation in a study abroad program. For students who choose to pursue a study abroad program for a semester or longer in countries where certain languages are spoken locally (Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, or Thai), students will be asked to complete a language proficiency test upon their return. Schools may utilize the score report from the ACTFL Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency in Languages (AAPPL) for eligibility for academic credit and/or for the local Seal of Biliteracy. Click here for more information.

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