To promote our mission, AFS encourages all volunteers to be involved in identifying and working with people interested in studying or volunteering abroad. For an introduction to our Study Abroad Programs, please review the Study Abroad Overview and the Study Abroad Programs Overview.
Do you want to learn more about bringing the AFS experience to U.S. students? Check out this Introduction to Study Abroad presentation by AFS Study Abroad Volunteers that shares our program offerings, application process, and where to find resources to help you promote study abroad.
You don't need to be an expert in our Study Abroad Programs to be able to support sending participants abroad -- nor do you need to commit to a large, long-term responsibility! Your belief in the AFS mission and your knowledge of AFS basics will go a long way!
Why Study Abroad with AFS? What makes us different?
- 75+ years of history and a legacy of peace-building!
- The safety and well-being of our participants is our number one priority.
- An intersectional approach to Studying Abroad - our international network of 52+ overseas partners means that our program cohorts are diverse and international. Students won't just learn about their host country -- they will also get to develop a network of friendships from around the world.
- An authentic immersion experience designed to promote student growth. Our volunteer network means that students get to connect with individuals, like you, who care deeply about their culture and experience. We are not a tourism organization!
- Acceptance of applicants who showcase the Qualities of an AFSer: Flexibility, Resilience, Compassion, Open-Mindedness, and Adaptability
- A commitment to financial accessibility. AFS-USA commits to meeting the demonstrated need of all accepted applicants and there is no pay barrier to applying!
- A robust Student Learning Journey, which is an online course taken before students' departure that provides an educational framework for intercultural learning. This course also includes live sessions that connect students from around the world prior to their program departure.
- A parent and guardian-centric approach - staff from our Participant Support and Learning team offer a webinar for Parents/Guardians to learn more about what an AFS Experience is like for their child.
- Language Proficiency Testing. Students will be able to quantify their language growth through an accredited platform that can be used to verify their language proficiency -- to be included on resumes or used for recognition from academic institutions.
- A robust secondary medical coverage plan.
- The program fee is a one-stop shop: we book students' international airfare on the student's behalf and provide support for applicable visas.
What Study Abroad programs does AFS offer?
You can find all of our current program offers by accessing this report.
- Academic Year and Semester Programs:
AFS-USA's flagship program is our Year and Semester experience. These are typical AFS experiences that involve an immersion into the host country by being placed in a host family and local school. These programs are offered with "fall - Northern Hemisphere (NH)" departures from July through September, and also "spring - Southern Hemisphere (SH)" departures from January through March. You can find our academic year and semester programs on our website here.
- Summer Programs:
AFS-USA offers multiple summer programs that vary in length, content, and destination. Ranging from 2-8 weeks, our summer programs are great opportunities for students to experience an AFS experience if they are unable to participate in a longer program. You can find our summer programs on our website here.
- Outbound Sponsored Programs:
AFS-USA also offers the opportunity for U.S. high school students to apply for three, full, merit-based scholarships that are sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. These scholarships are managed by the Outbound Sponsored Programs Team, not by the AFS-USA Study Abroad Team:
What is the role of the AFS Study Abroad Volunteer?
Volunteers can support Studying Abroad in many ways - and one of the most important ways is by conducting Study Abroad interviews with applicants in your area ...or nationally! You can learn more here. These interviews are a way for the applicant and their family to learn more about AFS, and importantly, for AFS to learn more about them. The information you provide during the interview will be shared with the overseas hosting partner and is used to contextualize the applicant and pair them with a host family. Our overseas partners and volunteers very much value them! All interviews can be remote.
If you would like to participate as a National Study Abroad interviewer, please reach out to StudyAbroad@afsusa.org. National Study Abroad interviewers are volunteers who interview students around the U.S., and typically interview applicants who do not have an Area Team presence.
AFS Volunteers can also promote programs within their networks and local communities.
Volunteers can also support participants by forming relationships with their families and checking in with them periodically. They may have questions about an exchange in general, and if you aren't able to answer all of them -- please reach out to Study Abroad staff and we'll be happy to help. When students return from their program, it can mean a lot to have a warm welcome by an AFS Volunteer. Often, it is a volunteer who can make students feel heard and have their immense experiences valued.
Last, volunteers can support pre-departure orientations. More can be learned here.
What is the role of the Study Abroad Staff and who are they?
You can learn more about Study Abroad staff and roles here.
Where can I find more information?
This Help & Learning section will give you many more tips and pointers to guide you as you work with sending participants abroad. There are many ways to help encourage studying and volunteering abroad. Study Abroad Volunteer activities include:
- Reaching out to potential AFSers and promoting AFS
- Encouraging interested students to start their journey at our website www.afsusa.org
- Acting as a local contact for schools and educators about our programs and scholarships
- Sharing your AFS story with others
- Interviewing applicants
- Inviting Leads/Applicants to AFS activities already happening in your area
- Organizing or helping at a Study Abroad Orientation
We hope this Help & Learning section will help you get started today. Every effort makes a difference in our mission to promote intercultural understanding. If you have any questions along the way, please do not hesitate to contact your team's Study Abroad Coordinator or Study Abroad Staff! Thank you!