Since 1947, AFS has evolved from a traditional student exchange organization to embrace a more robust agenda that prepares and empowers global citizens. As a result, AFSers are making a huge impact around the world in significant ways. Their contributions—big and small—encourage and inspire us to make AFS even stronger going forward.
As cultural, religious and other differences continue to fuel conflicts, AFS remains committed to foster intercultural exchanges, learning and understanding as a powerful and productive way to help create a more just and peaceful world. The 2015 AFS Annual Report reflects five fundamental strategies that help us achieve this critical mission.
- AFS offers structured intercultural learning and global citizenship education. After almost 70 years in study abroad, we know that immersive cultural experiences are not enough. So AFS has developed comprehensive learning programs specifically designed for students, host families, volunteers, staff and others.
- AFS volunteer training develops a range of skills that last a lifetime: Supporting students and families, facilitating intercultural learning, changemaking and helping manage a dynamic international organization provide AFS volunteers with meaningful personal growth and professional development opportunities.
- AFS programs help students and volunteers build critical leadership skills. We prepare today's and tomorrow's leaders to collaborate and lead across cultural differences—all essential 21st-century skills needed in a global world.
- AFS encourages students, volunteers and families to embrace changemaking and social impact projects to improve local, national and global communities. We also support and value initiatives that extend our “learning to live together” philosophy to make a real difference in the world as a volunteer, in our professional lives or working for governments, nonprofits and NGOs.
- AFS creates strong global partnerships. As an international nonprofit and intercultural learning organization, we encourage all AFSers to connect and work with schools, universities, humanitarian and peace groups, governments and other NGOs on the issues that reflect our mission. In 2015, we were particularly proud to be designated an official partner of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Thank you to the AFS global community for helping to make our mission become a reality on so many levels. And congratulations to AFS Argentina, AFS Costa Rica, AFS Latvia, AFS Hungary and AFS India for celebrating milestone anniversaries in 2015.