There are three orientations that AFS offers for our sending students in the U.S. Two of the orientations are required. These orientations are:
- Pre-departure Orientation (required)
- Gateway Orientation (required)
- Re-Entry Orientation and Welcome Home Events (highly recommended)
Attending a pre-departure orientation, also called a PDO, is absolutely essential for every outbound student and at least one of his/her parents. The orientation should be held preferably before the earliest departure of the students, which usually translate to somewhere from May-June for Summer participants and December - January for Winter students.
The participants for each program will gather together in a "gateway" city and fly together to their chosen country. It takes place around the same time of the student departures, late June - early September for Summer and January - March for Winter. The gateway orientation is an opportunity for presenting specific program/country information to them. The orientation is usually run by AFS Staff and local volunteers in the gateway city (New York, Miami, Los Angeles) together with invited "experts" in the culture of the country to which the students are going.
Each year, hundreds of AFSers return from their experience abroad. In the same way AFS offers participants guidance prior to and during their program, we offer AFSers the skills and resources to navigate their transition home through Re-entry Orientations and Welcome Home Events.
AFS-USA's support of Welcome Home Events illustrates our organization’s renewed dedication to nurturing and welcoming returnees and thereby integrating Returnees as life-long and contributing members of the AFS Community.
- Re-entry Orientations are typically longer in duration and offer formal orientation content.
- Welcome Home Events may be shorter, include less formal content and are typically designed around a shared meal.
The Re-Entry Orientation Leader's Guide will guide you in planning both Re-entry Orientations and Welcome Home events. AFS Teams and Chapters are encouraged to develop and offer a Re-entry Orientation and/or Welcome Home event best suited to the team’s geography, capacity, anticipated attendees, volunteer network, budget and ideal duration. Whether your team selects a Re-entry Orientation, a Welcome Home event or a combination of the two, the outcome is that Returnees feel welcomed and supported by AFS.