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 (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. These 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. Since every student is required to attend a PDO, including winter departure students, you will sometimes have to construct a one-on-one PDO. The Leader's Guide for the One on One PDO are available in the Resources section below. These may be a bit shorter as there is no opportunity for group interaction, and it is possible to conduct them remotely by sending the material to the student in advance and then just having a phone call review session. But whenever possible, doing it in person is preferred.
To learn more about expected outcomes of Pre-Departure Orientation, click here.
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. While 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, there are also opportunities for other AFS volunteers.
Each year some volunteers are given the opportunity to be a Flight Chaperone, and these volunteers will be present at the appropriate gateway orientation.
To learn more about expected outcomes of Gateway Orientations, click here.
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.
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.