At the community level, the Sponsored Programs students’ experience is much like that of any other AFS student. The goals of their programs are primarily met by living with their host family and attending school. They participate in local orientations, meet with their liaisons once a month, and their support issues go through the same local channels.
However, Sponsored Programs students are also responsible for participating in a number of educational activities designed to enhance their insights into how the U.S. functions, provide impetus for a broader view of the U.S. than they might find in their immediate surroundings and assist them in gaining an understanding of how positive leadership can be exercised. For this reason, the Sponsored Programs students are placed in groups or "clusters" within Area Teams; these clusters are arranged so that they are geographically close enough to gather at least six times a year, guided by volunteers who help them to fulfill the required learning objectives. These volunteers, who are known as Sponsored Programs Cluster Coordinators, lend their skills and experience to help achieve the cross-cultural understanding envisioned by the AFS Ambulance Drivers.
You can watch an hour-long webinar (and/or review the presentation slides) on our Inbound Sponsored Programs by going to this page.
There are a few special considerations when placing FLEX, YES and CBYX students beyond ensuring that your team has a cluster.
The State Department requires that we seek special approval if a YES, FLEX, or CBYX student will be assigned to a school that is not a traditional public school. Your Regional Field Specialist and Sponsored Programs staff can help you acquire this extra approval for charter, private and other non-public schools.
Unique Travel Dates
Because we partner with several organizations to implement the YES program, the arrival dates of our YES students vary based on their country of origination. The travel dates of our YES students can be found here.
Similarly, the FLEX program arrival and departure dates vary based on country of origination. Travel dates will be shared with students, host families, and area teams individually.
Placing Female Muslim Students in families with Unmarried Men
Given the cultural considerations of some YES communities, we need approval for female YES students from some specific countries to be placed in families with unmarried men living in the home. This can include host brothers, uncles, renters, or any others age 13+ in the home. While every family and situation is different, please be mindful of this consideration when making placements. If we will need to seek permission from the student's natural family for such a placement, you will see a comment in Global Link like this one:
If you must seek approval or if you have any questions, your Regional Field Specialist and Sponsored Programs staff can assist.
YES and FLEX Program Requirements for Students with Disabilities
Mobility International USA (MIUSA), and organization based in Eugene, OR. holds a grant from the Department of State that helps to support YES and FLEX students with disabilities while they are on program. MIUSA provides resources to students, their host families and staff and volunteers which helps us all better support the students. They conduct an initial assessment of each student, usually in person but sometimes over the phone. Assessments are shared with AFS-USA and provide great ideas for possible resources and opportunities in the students local area.
Students with disabilities are required to attend a workshop conducted by MIUSA in Eugene, OR. YES and FLEX students with disabilities attend the MIUSA Preparatory Workshop which typically takes place in mid August. Students travel to their host families after the workshop. Please make sure all host families and volunteers hosting students with disabilities in their areas are aware of this requirement.
Click here to go to the MIUSA website for more information.
Notifying Students of Host Family Placements
Host families will be eager to get in touch with their students once all screening is completed. However, due to the timing of the YES and FLEX scholarship announcements, we can not always inform students immediately of their host family placements like we can with CBYX and Core students. Please be assured that the Sponsored Programs staff or Regional Field Specialists will alert host families as appropriate, once their student has been made aware of their finalist status and placement.
School Administrator Letter
Consider sharing this letter with school administrators. This letter was provided by the U.S. Department of State and provides some context about Sponsored Programs students.
You may also want to review the article on Hosting with a New School.