Helping to bring the people of the world together is exciting, interesting, and rewarding work. For 75 years, AFS Volunteers have given their time to empower students, families and communities to overcome cultural barriers through increased understanding. Our volunteers come from every pocket of America, and their impact is felt on both a local and global scale.

Who are AFS Volunteers?

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Kathleen Birkhimer

Kathleen, a returnee and volunteer with the Florida team since 2009, shares her story!

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Rio Orticio

Rio’s own study abroad experience drove him to give back and help future students navigate their adventures.

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Stassa & Jay Phillips

As retired teachers, Stassa and Jay continue to encourage diversity and open-mindedness in their community.

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Carol McCaulley

Ever since her high school AFS Club, Carol has been inspired by the students, families, and volunteers she’s come to know.

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Eric Mattlin

Eric learned about AFS through his son’s school, and is now a host parent and volunteer with his local team.

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Stephanie Davidson

Stephanie keeps her foreign language skills up by volunteering and helping fellow high schoolers learn about the world.

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AFS-USA Volunteer Awards

Each year AFS presents awards to the volunteers that go beyond the call of duty. Thank you to our current and former winners for carrying the mission forward!

Dream Team Award:

The Ohio River Valley Area Team was awarded the 2023 Dream Team Award.  Chaired by Angie Lochbaum, the Team has experienced some leadership turnover, opening space for new and younger volunteers to step into many new roles. Volunteers are encouraged to “cross-pollinate” between Team roles, so that, for example, Hosting volunteers can help with School Outreach, and School Outreach volunteers can help with Sending. The Team increased communication, interaction, and social events among Team members, reasoning that Teams who know each other better will work together better. Committee chairs reach out to all the volunteers they have worked with to ensure that each one feels connected and valued. .

Emerging Leader Award:

Natalie Lockwood is the Los Angeles Area Team’s Treasurer and has been outstanding from the beginning. She evolved from assisting at Orientations to running them, becoming the Team’s Treasurer, taking a seat on the Team’s Leadership Council, and working to restructure the Council to be more effective. She has gone from a volunteer on the periphery of the organization to one who is central to new organizational restructuring efforts.

Emily Hansen became the San Diego Area Team’s Travel Representative to navigate the change in students’ departures and arrivals. She also understands compliance, has the patience for details, and possesses good communication skills. She made huge contributions after taking on the role of Volunteer Coordinator.

Mission Award:

The 2023 Mission Award went to Robbin Lang of the Greater Illinois Area Team.  As Hosting Coordinator, Robbin’s efforts are pivotal in recruiting host families. She is instrumental in building strong relationships with schools and making sure that the schools are respected. She communicates clearly and proactively when issues arise.  Robbin has also been an exemplary leader in spearheading orientations. As Sponsored Programs Co-Coordinator, Robbin collaborates with other Area Teams for cluster activities and continually brings new ideas to the AFS Sponsored Programs cultural events. The nomination of Robbin stood out due to her enthusiastic embrace of the mission and core values of AFS; she is laser-focused on building a bright future for our world and the mission of AFS aligns perfectly with her worldview. 

2023 AFS International Award Winners

Galatti Award:

Deb Maly
German Town, WI

The Galatti Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service was established in 1983 and was named after AFS founder Stephen Galatti. This award honors longstanding AFS volunteers whose commitment and exceptional dedication have advanced the mission and goals of AFS. It is the most prestigious commendation granted to volunteers by the AFS International Board of Trustees.

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Peggy and Art Howe Award:

Bonnie and Jim Stark

Established in 2016, Peggy and Art Howe Award honors the outstanding service of AFS volunteer families. This award is inspired by the Howe family, who volunteered for AFS for more than six decades. Art Howe was a volunteer AFS Ambulance Driver in World War II, President of AFS (1965-1971), and Life Trustee until his passing in 2014.

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Get in Touch

If you have questions about the opportunities to volunteer, read our Frequently Asked Questions or email us at [email protected]