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What is the AFS Student Learning Journey?

On an AFS program, every student does more than just travel — they go on a learning journey. 

Our students have the opportunity to experience study abroad, learn global skills, practice social impact and return home as active global citizens who possess essential global skills needed to live, learn, work, volunteer, contribute to society, and change the world.

Before, during and after their program, every AFSer can benefit from an educational curriculum that we have developed over 75 years of intercultural learning, and recently updated in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Social Impact Strategy (CSIS).

At the end of their learning journey, we hope students will leave with the “AFS superpowers” that they need to make the world a better place through active global citizenship: adaptability, critical thinking, self-awareness, empathy, communication, valuing differences, open-mindedness, global awareness, and change-making.

What do you experience on the AFS Student Learning Journey?

For our academic year and semester high school programs, the AFS Student Learning Journey combines online and in-person learning at every step of your AFS program: before you travel, while you are abroad, and when you return from the program. This way you can connect globally with all exchange students who are on an AFS program at the same time as you, interact locally in-person with your peers. This approach maximizes the learning outcomes from your AFS experience.

  • Online globally: Once you decide to go on an AFS program, you’ll become part of a global community and meet like-minded and diverse people before you even travel! Each student is enrolled in an online learning program, designed  by AFS in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Social Impact Strategy (CSIS), that compliments your in-person experience. You can meet, connect, and collaborate virtually with AFS peers from all over the world.
  • In-person locally: Before you travel, you can participate in a locally or nationally scheduled group orientation session that helps you develop the knowledge, coping strategies, and skills needed to have a meaningful intercultural experience. This orientation will be a great way to meet other AFSers before they go abroad, and will be led by AFS staff and/or volunteers.

Get an Advanced Certificate in Global Citizenship for Social Impact

For Semester and Year Program AFS students wanting to go above and beyond, we offer an Advanced Certificate in Global Citizenship for Social Impact from University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Social Impact Strategy (CSIS). This is a great way to boost your resume with official recognition from a world renowned university, and put your ideas for changing the world into practice.

Click here for more info!


Become a Certified Global Changemaker

AFS students are equipped to become Global Changemakers. The Advanced Certificate in Global Citizenship for Social Impact course gives you the chance to practice social impact by developing your own capstone project. You’ll develop an idea to change the world, receive feedback from a committee of experts, and earn a certificate issued by AFS and the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice.

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Get recognition from a world class university

AFS partnered with the University of Pennsylvania to offer you this course because we know young people can change the world for the better. We’ve combined AFS’s 75+ years of experience in intercultural learning with the Center for Social Impact Strategy at the University of Pennsylvania’s expertise in social innovation and social impact to create this unique online program.


Learn how to develop your own Social Impact Project

This certificate course is an optional additional track interested students taking part in semester and year AFS High School Study Abroad Programs can add to their experience. If you choose to add this certificate course, in addition to the AFS Student Learning Journey that participants experience, you will also:

  • Test your social impact project prototype in the real world
  • Get feedback from users
  • Learn about Storytelling
  • Develop a personal and a public narrative about your project
  • Record a Capstone Project video to submit to an official committee of evaluators
  • Interact with peers and their projects from around the world
  • Be assessed, receive feedback
  • And, if you meet all criteria, earn a certificate from AFS and the Center for Social Impact Strategy at the University of Pennsylvania

The advanced certificate is your chance to go deeper into social impact and make a difference wherever you are in the world.

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Information for parents

Help your teen unleash their creativity, develop a social impact project and become an AFS Changemaker. If all requirements are successfully met, your teen will receive the Advanced Certificate on Global Citizenship for Social Impact from AFS and the School of Social Policy & Practice at the University of Pennsylvania.

This is an extra course that your child can take if interested in learning more about social impact and developing their own social impact project while studying abroad during the AFS exchange program.

AFS has been transforming lives and developing active global citizens through our intercultural programs for over 75 years. The University of Pennsylvania is a leading global educational institution.


Experience the world

During your AFS High School Study Abroad Program you will have the opportunity to create connections and work towards developing superpowers that are going to help you to explore the world around you.


Learn global skills

You may develop global skills and knowledge that are essential to stand-out in an increasingly connected world.


Create change

Think globally. Become an Active Global Citizen. Develop your Social Impact Project and change the world.


No. All the online and in-person program components described here are included in the academic semester and year high school program price. However, if you would like to take the Advanced Certificate in Global Citizenship for Social Impact program, additional costs will apply.