In many ways, AFS’s sponsored programs today echo the call made by the AFS Ambulance Drivers to heal the world’s wounds after the First and Second World Wars. The Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Initiative (CBYX) and Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program (YES), two of the programs sponsored by the Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau of the United States Department of State aim to cultivate and preserve enduring ties between the people of cooperating nations.
Congres-Bundestag Youth Exchange Initiative (CBYX)
In 1983, the U.S. Congress and the German Bundestag passed legislation authorizing the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Initiative (CBYX), known in Germany as the Parlamentarisches Patenschafts-Programm (PPP). At the outset, the program was part of the President's International Youth Exchange Initiative and celebrated the 300th anniversary of German settlements in the U.S. The goal was to continue to foster what was seen as a valuable “Transatlantic Bridge” between the U.S. and Germany. AFS was selected to implement the program in its inaugural year, in part due to the long-standing partnership between AFS-USA and AFS Interkulturelle Begegnungen (AFS-Germany). Many remember that in 1947 AFS hosted its first group of German students in the United States only three years after the end of the Second World War.
Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX)
Established in 1992, the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) program strives to improve mutual understanding and develop and strengthen long-term relationships between citizens of the United States and citizens of the countries of Eastern Europe and Eurasia. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of State and supports the exchange of high school students from 21 Eastern European and Eurasian countries to the U.S. for a year long, academic home stay experience.
Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES)
The September 11th terrorist attacks of 2001 and the apparent negative view of Americans held in some regions, as well as the anti-Islamic or anti-Arab sentiment that gripped some places in the United States, brought renewed focus to the need for improved understanding across our cultures. Having long known that the benefits of high school exchange programs extend beyond the student into the community at large, the international education community responded to this call with an initiative to increase exchanges between the United States and countries with significant Muslim populations. 2003-2004 marked the inaugural year of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program.
At the community level, the sponsored 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 students are:
- 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.
- YES Students should participate in at least 6 activities
- CBYX Students should participate in a minimum of 4 activities
- NOTE - These activities are commonly referred to as either "Cluster Activities" or "Enrichment Activities"
- Sponsored students are placed in groups or “clusters” within Area Teams in geographic proximity such that they can gather six or more times a year, guided by volunteers who help them to fulfill these learning objectives. These volunteers, who have come to be known as “Cluster Coordinators,” lend their skills and experience to help achieve the cross-cultural understanding envisioned by the AFS Ambulance Drivers.