In order to provide successful intercultural experiences, AFS has developed a supportive learning approach that guides participants and host families through each step of the program. This time-tested process introduces participants to the fundamentals of intercultural communication, and then gives them the chance to apply this knowledge during the exchange experience.
As new learning opportunities unfold, trained AFS Volunteers informally coach participants, sparking conversations that expand their perspectives as well as encouraging moments of reflection. This approach encourages participants to embark on journeys of personal growth, and gives them the education and experience to become responsible members of the global community.
AFS orientation programs address a series of educational goals that have been specifically tailored to increase intercultural awareness. This framework is used throughout the AFS Network to ensure the quality and consistency of AFS exchange programs. Although guided by these shared objectives, AFS Partner organizations are given the freedom and flexibility to adapt the materials and approach in ways that best suit each country or region.
The AFS orientation framework helps participants and host families become true partners in the learning experience. At initial orientation workshops, AFS Volunteers provide background information on exchange programs and teach personal safety skills for travel abroad. During the experience abroad, participants and AFS Volunteers within the local community meet regularly to work on cultural adjustment and coping strategies, and the development of communication skills. Host families and participants are also encouraged to reflect on their experiences, both individually and together, in order to understand their respective cultures in a larger context.
ICL for Friends of AFS: AFS Orientation Framework 2011
AFS exchange programs have a profound effect on a variety of players. Whether it’s the students, the trained AFS Volunteers, the host families, schools or community organizations, everyone is touched by the benefits of the AFS intercultural learning process. The AFS experience exchanges more than people, it exchanges new ways of thinking, living, and being between cultures.