Overview

The Capital Area Team encompasses the greater Washington, DC, area including Anne Arundel, Calvert, Frederick, Montgomery, Prince George’s, and St. Mary’s Counties in Maryland, the City of Alexandria and Arlington County in Virginia, and of course, Washington, DC. We are a diverse team of students, volunteers, host families, returnees and educators, who are committed to providing a life-changing, cross-cultural experience in the capital city of the United States of America.

AFS-USA has been a leader in nonprofit intercultural education for more than 75 years. Our goal is to work toward a more just and peaceful world by providing young people with opportunities to live and study in our community.

Our Team

Most recently our team has consisted of:

  • over 90 active AFS volunteers.
  • 30-40 foreign students over 20 different schools
  • 30+ American students living overseas for a year, a semester, or the summer

Outline of Capital Area Team location on map

Our team is spread out over a large geographic area stretching from Frederick, MD, in the north to the tip of St. Mary’s County, MD, in the south and from the western edge of Arlington to the eastern edge of Annapolis. Our volunteers tend to focus their engagement in their own communities but have access to the experience and expertise of the entire team. In addition, the AFS Capital Area Team collaborates with the Maryland School for the Deaf in Frederick, MD, to host deaf students and to engage with deaf host families and volunteers.

Volunteer Opportunities

Every year the Capital Area Team welcomes foreign students to the area and sends American students off to live in foreign countries. Our ability to do this depends on our committed volunteers. One of our biggest tasks is finding host families for prospective students. For example, we need host family interviewers, liaisons for students and host families, chaperones for trips and outings, and help with new student and new family orientations, as well as people to meet students at the airport when they arrive. Once you have signed up as a volunteer you can join our Facebook page where you will find our full Capital Area Team calendar. Below are some things people might want to do with AFS and what they can do to get involved.

“I want to connect with a student.”

— Provide friendship and support as a:

• liaison, the key contact for the student and host family
• temporary or emergency host family
• mentor for students going abroad

“I want to make new friends.”

— Join us at one of our many (virtual for now) gatherings – all are invited! And once it is safe to get together again you can look forward to:

• hikes, tours and other excursions
• Halloween party, winter holiday party
• trips to New York, skiing and to the beach
• host family appreciation dinners, pool parties and more!

“I want to do something meaningful, but I don’t have a lot of time.”

— No problem! Pitch in for just a few hours to:

• interview prospective students and host families
• mentor an applicant
• assist with a school presentation
• accompany students on outings and orientations

“I’m a good organizer.”

— Be a team leader for:

• activities for students like weekend trips, day hikes, sightseeing
• interviewing students and families
• shopping for food for student orientations
• volunteer development
• school relations

“I’d like to put my professional skills to use for AFS.”

— We especially need people with experience in:

• counseling
• database management
• webpage creation/maintenance
• marketing and PR
• keeping the books (treasurer)

“I’d like to help AFS and boost my resume at the same time.”

— We will help you design a project or an internship that will build your experience and showcase your talents.

Start the process of becoming a volunteer with the AFS Capital Area Team or contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Joan Siegel, at [email protected]. We are looking forward to meeting you!

Contact Our Team

Jim Walker [email protected] Jim is Co-Chair of the Capital Area Team as well as the Sending Coordinator. Contact Jim with questions about becoming an AFS exchange student or volunteering with our team.
Joan Siegel [email protected] Joan is Co-Chair of the Capital Area Team as well as the Volunteer Coordinator. Contact Joan with questions about volunteering or hosting an AFS student.
Jaime Theilen [email protected] Jaime is Sponsored Programs Cluster Co-Coordinator. Please contact Jaime with questions about Sponsored Programs.*
John MacGregor [email protected] John is Sponsored Programs Cluster Co-Coordinator. Please contact John with questions about Sponsored Programs.*

*Sponsored programs are Department of State scholarships for participants on the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES), Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) and the Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX). These highly competitive students come from countries as wide ranging as the Baltic States, Bangladesh, Egypt, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Senegal, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine and more.

Host Family FAQ

What is required of an AFS Host Family?

AFS expects you to provide a safe supportive environment for the students, and that you integrate him or her as a member of your family. As such, it is expected that you will:

  • provide the student with his or her own bed, in a bedroom shared with no more than one non-adult host sibling of the same sex.
  • cover basic, everyday expenses incurred by having the student in your home.
  • arrange for transportation to and from school.
  • provide all meals, including either lunch for school days (prepared by the host family or students themselves) OR an allowance to purchase lunch in the cafeteria.
  • When your family goes out for a meal, it is expected that you cover the cost of your student’s meal, as well.

In addition, we expect that you will utilize the services available to you through your local AFS Volunteers and national staff as outlined in Help & Learning for Host Families. This includes (but is not limited to) participating in orientations and seeking advice from your AFS Liaison. (The primary role of the AFS Liaison is to maintain regular contact with his/her assigned AFS student and host family, providing support and information and assisting in problem-solving when the need arises.)

Does AFS pay families to host participants?

No, host families are not paid. However, you will be rewarded with an experience of a lifetime and host families are entitled to a tax deduction each month that an AFS student stays in their home.

Must students have their own room?

Students do not necessarily have to have their own rooms but they must have their own beds. Students can share a room with a same-sex host sibling if necessary.

Does the student speak English?

Yes, all students have a demonstrated level of proficiency in English.  Our students come to the U.S. with a desire to immerse themselves in the language and to improve their level of proficiency.

Do I need to “entertain” the student?

Students come here to experience typical daily life in the United States both at home and in school. Immerse the student in the life of your family! Some host families take students on special outings throughout the year, but this is not required. Students are encouraged to engage in extracurricular activities and explore their new communities just as your own children do. The most successful host families are those who treat students as a member of the family, not as a guest.

Will the host family need to cover medical expenses?

No, the host family will not be financially responsible for medical expenses for the student. Students come with medical insurance so that they can be treated as soon as possible. There is also a 24-hour support phone number in case of any emergency.

Does AFS have rules for participants?

Yes. AFS students are expected to obey all the AFS rules and policies that are applicable while on their program. If students break a rule such as driving, hitchhiking or using illegal drugs, they will have their program terminated. Students are expected to obey U.S. laws. We also limit independent travel by students. Host families are provided with access to Help & Learning for Host Families, which contains information on these rules as well as all types of other information that families will find useful. All host families are given an on-line and an in-person orientation before students arrive.

What if problems arise?

AFS volunteers have a lot of experience in placing students with host families and they provide extensive support throughout the year. Each student and host family is assigned an AFS Liaison to communicate with the host family and student individually at least once a month. AFS Liaisons are the first line of support to resolve an issue and we have a team of experienced support volunteers to help out.

Why does AFS conduct criminal background checks?

The safety and welfare of our participants is our highest priority. The criminal background check is an integral part of the screening process that AFS-USA staff, volunteers and host family members must undergo before being affiliated with our program. The U.S. Department of State and the Council on International Educational Travel (CSIET) require that AFS conduct criminal background checks for all members of the host family home aged 18 years and older; AFS takes the additional step of requiring background checks for host family members aged 17 years and older.

How do I apply to become an AFS host family?

To find additional information, see students interested in coming to our area and to start the process of filling out an AFS host family application, please click here. We’ll be excited to hear from you!

For access to Help & Learning for Host Families as well as other host family resources, please click here.

Host Family Resources

For access to AFS Host Family Resources, please click here.

Calendar

Access to our team calendar is available to registered volunteers, AFS students and confirmed host families. To find out more, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Joan Siegel, at [email protected]. If you are a registered volunteer, AFS student, or confirmed host family, you can request access to the team calendar here.

Scholarships

To explore the types of scholarships available for students wanting to go overseas with AFS, please click here.

Donate

To donate to the Capital Area Team, please click here.

To donate to AFS-USA, please click here.

Social Media

For general information about the Capital Area Team find us on our Facebook page. Once you become a registered volunteer you can request access to our private Facebook page, which includes our calendar and other information about our events, discussions, and social activities. Follow us on Twitter at @AFS_CapitalTeam. We are also on Instagram. Please contact Joan Siegel at [email protected] for more information.

Useful Links

Check out our AFS Capital Area (DC/MD/VA) Facebook page here for general information. Once you become a registered volunteer you will have access to our private Facebook page, which includes our calendar and information about our events, discussions and social activities.

Sightseeing and Things to Do in the DC Area:

Metro Bus and Rail general information is here.

Metro Pocket Guides are available in multiple languages!