The Lead Facilitator (LF) is tasked with facilitating the exchange students’ learning at arrival and end-of-stay events. The students at the orientation are all recipients of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program, a program of the U.S. Department of State, which provides scholarships for secondary school students from countries of strategic importance to spend one academic year in the United States. The YES events are for approximately 350 students from 11 countries.
LFs are trained by AFS Sponsored Program Specialists and are provided a manual with step-by-step instructions for conducting learning activities that are associated with the learning sessions during the YES Orientation program (this includes events taking place in-person or virtually; all sessions are also tailored to be conducted on-line should an in-person event not be allowable due to health restrictions).
While working closely with AFS Sponsored Programs staff, LFs are expected to be thoroughly familiar with the contents of the manual and the flow of all activities and ensuring that Orientation Assistants (OAs), who are other volunteers assisting with the event, are familiar as well.
Lead Facilitator Key Responsibilities
- Know and have a deep understanding of the Goals and Objectives for the overall orientation and for each individual session as these are the building blocks for each learning module and will allow for informed flexibility when/if changes need to be made.
- Learn the activities: review the manual and master each activity. Knowing the activity inside out is helpful should any last-minute changes need to be made.
- Modify the activities as needed. Each activity in the manual has been field tested and improved upon. As needed, the LF can elect to modify some content to suit the local constraints. For example, group size may be smaller, logistics may demand a compressed schedule that requires speeding up the activities or activities planned for in-person may need to take place virtually or vice versa.
- Personalize the manual. AFS staff purposely includes plenty of white space around text so that orientation staff can add their own notes and ideas. LFs are encouraged to underline or highlight key words and ideas in the manual if they need to be easily located.
- Ensure that activities are conducted in an effective and consistent fashion and meet program goals and objectives so that the students are all engaged and eager for the next steps in their respective journey’s (whether preparing for their exchange year in the U.S. or returning home as active alumni in their home countries).
- LFs may assist in the training of OAs, including leading conference calls/meetings with OAs in preparation for and during the orientation.
- Facilitate large-group orientation sessions (approximately 70-100 students each)
- Manage and monitor approximately 5-10 OAs (other volunteers) who will each help students in smaller groups.
- Record notes about session content, quality and logistics in order to offer feedback to staff and volunteers at a post-orientation debrief session
- Participate in all activities of the orientation in order to act as a resource for OAs, students and staff.
- Manage and coordinate volunteers during arrival and departure day (for in-person events).
- Participate in the training of Lead Facilitators for future orientations.
- Ensure the safety and well-being of students.
- Respond to general student concerns.
During the Orientations
It is very important that the activities of all groups be conducted in the same location and follow the same schedule. The LF will coordinate, monitor, and support all activities. Specifically, the LF will kick-off, coordinate, and conclude each module by doing the following:
- Introduce the title, objectives and activities of the module.
- Debrief the students and review the key learning points at the end of each session.
- Hours will vary; overnight stays will likely be involved (for in-person events)
- Length of commitment will vary for in-person events; orientations last anywhere from 1-4 days, depending on the program and group size.
- For virtual events, timing will be scheduled well in advance so volunteers, students and staff can plan accordingly for any tech needs.
- Competent in training techniques/highly knowledgeable in leading and facilitating trainings
- Keen organizational skills
- Comfortable working independently on various key projects
- Ability to maintain open lines of communication with fellow volunteers and Sponsored Programs staff
- Ability to give and receive constructive feedback
- Comfortable with learning how to facilitate virtually if format is conducted online (via Zoom or similar platform)
- Previous participation in a Training of Trainers workshop or relevant experience.
- Completion of the Sponsored Programs Module as a foundation in understanding Sponsored Programs
- Overview/training of virtual platform facilitation if format is conducted online
Materials/Resources Provided by AFS
- Orientation volunteer mailings sent prior to the event containing specific event information
- Orientation volunteer e-binder containing specific event and content information
- Transportation to orientation site (if in-person)
- Meals and local transportation during the event (if in-person)
- Online meeting platform: virtual events will be set-up and monitored by AFS staff so the LF can take the lead in content.
- AFS Sponsored Programs team
- Fellow orientation volunteers
Benefits to Volunteer
- Improve and enhance training skills
- Develop leadership skills
- Develop friendships with participants, volunteers and staff
- Engage in meaningful exchange of ideas with participants about their experiences abroad
- Enhance knowledge and understanding of differing cultures