AFS Intercultural Programs - Allison Ludlow/Victor Blasucci
Allison Ludlow and Victor Blasucci fomr AFS Intercultural Programs were our guest on BuxMont Live this week. Read the full article to find out the topics we discussed or listen to the shows archives on WNPV 1440 AM.
AFS is a worldwide, nonprofit organization that has been leading international high school student exchange for more than 60 years.
For more information, visit our website, www.afsusa.org. We have an urgent needed for families for students arriving in August or September. If you’re interested in serving as a host, please visit the website or call 800-876-2377.
Learn more about AFS at the Indian Valley Public Library—starting October 9, join us there at 2 pm for a “Second Sunday” information session. Second Sundays of the month, October through June!
Formerly the American Field Service, AFS was founded by volunteer ambulance drivers following WWII. The founding belief was that the best way to break down barriers and build a more just and peaceful world is through people to people interactions. AFS brings global cultures together by helping individuals connect.
What makes AFS different?
AFS is one of the oldest international exchange organizations. We’ve been sending students abroad for more than 60 years, and have an exemplary record of safety, security, and service. Secondly, as a non-profit organization, it’s in our mission to give students the best experience abroad possible – not to make a profit. Our biggest advantage though is our cadre of volunteers. There are about 5,000 registered volunteers in the U.S. alone, and they run most parts of our programs.
AFS accepts families year-round to host AFS Exchange Students. Each year AFS welcomes 2500 international high school students from more than 90 countries who come to the U.S. to study in high schools and live with host families.
Our host families are not paid, so their motivation is not financial. Many do it because they want to make a difference in the life of a young student eager to experience American culture. These are outstanding young ambassadors from all across the globe (about 90 different countries) who have competed for the opportunity to come to the U.S., and are seen as role models and leaders in their home communities.
As any host family will tell you however, they benefit just as much as the students do. You learn about a new culture, see the U.S. through different eyes, and often forge a tight connection. It is common for participants to remain in touch with their host families for many years, sometimes throughout their lifetimes.
Families can host students for several weeks, a semester, or an entire school year. They provide a bed and meals, and share their daily lives with students. Families shouldn’t worry about being too busy. The more opportunity the student has to experience your life, the better!
AFS welcomes all kinds of families. Families can have small or teenage children at home, or be empty nesters with adult children. AFS also welcomes couples with no children, single adults and single parents.
AFS also sends U.S. high school students abroad to 42 different countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, or South America. (There’s even a program in Iceland!) Programs may last for the academic year, a semester, or even just a few weeks during the summer. In most instances students will live with a host family, attend the local high school, and study the language. Even if students have had no previous exposure to the host country’s language, they can still participate – immersion is the best way to learn a new language.
We also offer gap-year community service programs, which offer a wonderful way to make a difference in the world and gain real life experience. Past participants have assisted park rangers in Costa Rica, worked with immigrants in Belgium, or built schools in Thailand.
Why study abroad in high school?
There’s arguably no better time to explore the world, discover yourself, and develop leadership skills to leverage in college and beyond. In addition, colleges understand the value of study abroad, and the skills gained from the experience. A college application from a student who has spent time abroad always stands out.
Other reasons to study abroad?
The chance to develop marketable language skills, to expand ones social network to a global scale, make new friends, and have the adventure of a lifetime. Study after study shows that students return with greater self-confidence and self-awareness, and a better understanding of the social, political and economic issues that affect our world.
Depends on the location. Year and semester programs range between $8000 and $15,000. Summer programs start at $6000. Many participants are able to raise funds through the many community organizations that will help a good cause (like your AFS experience), and we’ll give you tips on getting their support. Garage sales, car washes, and letters asking for sponsors are just a few strategies that work. There are also plenty of scholarships available.
There are full scholarships available for American high school students to study abroad in a variety of destinations, including Japan, Germany, China, Egypt, Thailand, and Russia to name a few. There are partial scholarships to other destinations, or if you’re from a particular part of the United States. Some scholarships are provided by AFS, some by private donors, and some by the U.S. Department of State.
Volunteers are the heart and driving force of AFS - we have more than 40,000 worldwide, and 5,000 in the U.S. AFS volunteers are committed, experienced locals who enthusiastically give their time and expertise to recruit, place and support participants throughout their experiences. If you are interested in serving as a volunteer, please visit our website: www.afsusa.org.