A teacher exchange is a one-to-one exchange experience where a group of teachers in one country host the same number of teachers for a period of time and then travel to stay with their counterpart in their home country. During their time as hosts, the teachers plan activities for their visitors, but the visitors also participate in school visits and speak to the students at the host school. Thus, all teachers get the chance to be part of a home and experience the “teacher life” in their host country.
The participating teachers are asked to volunteer for a minimum of one year with AFS (as liaisons, to help with orientations, host social events for the students, etc…) and find a role that is in line with their skills and interests. All teachers also go through the Global Up Educator training during the summer before traveling to have a deeper understanding of culture, communication styles, and many other topics that can help them engage in a virtual exchange with their classes before and after the physical exchange. Typically, the Austrian teachers travel to the U.S. in late October and the U.S. teachers travel to Austria in late November. Both experiences included about 10 days of travel to the receiving country.
AFS has been able to facilitate teacher exchanges in the past and has rekindled the exchange post-COVID in both 2022 and 2023. To see pictures of the most recent year’s exchange, please visit the Teacher Exchange page on the AFS-USA website. Previous and current experiences have had grant funding to support the initiative to ensure that teachers are not funding the entirety of their experience out of their own pocket. This element is typically what opens the door to conversations with school leaders.
If you believe that a program like this will spark hosting and volunteerism locally and the volunteer team is prepared to nurture the project and new volunteers, please reach out to Jill Woerner, Director of Education & External Outreach to Schools at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The recent exchanges were in collaboration with our AFS partner in Austria.
|Year||U.S. Host City||AFS Area Team||Region of Austria||# of U.S. Educators|
|2022||Muscatine, IA||Greater Illinois||Graz||5|
|2023||Latrobe, PA||Western PA||Linz||8|
Since the 2022 exchange, the local high school has enrolled four AFS exchange students and all five participating teachers are registered AFS volunteers. The launch of the 2023 exchange brought it with a return to hosting to a school that had remained closed since COVID and multiple educators are serving as liaisons to hosted students in surrounding areas.
The 2024 exchange locations are still being finalized.