What is AFS Intercultural Programs?

AFS Intercultural Programs promote international understanding and world peace

AFS is one of the world’s largest community-based volunteer organizations dedicated to building a more just and peaceful world through internataional student exchange. More than 13,000 students, young adults and teachers participate in AFS programs annually.


AFS is an international, voluntary, non-governmental, non-profit organization that provides intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world. AFS was created in 1914 and has been doing intercultural programs since 1947, currently present in more than 54 countries with over 11,000 exchanges per year.

AFS began as ‘American Field Service’ in WWI & II when nearly 5,000 young men from all over the world volunteered as ambulance drivers. These young men who had seen the horrors of war pledged to promote peace and global understanding through intercultural exchanges.

This volunteer driven organization international, non-governmental, non-profit, organization with headquarters in New York, provides intercultural learning opportunities and experiences for young people to develop the knowledge, skills, and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world. It currently consists of 52 partners/affiliate countries. Since 1947, when the first student exchanges took place, more than 360 000 participants and a similar number of host families have been a part of AFS worldwide.

Presently there are more than 42,000 active volunteers worldwide in various roles including board leadership, program operations, participant support, and marketing. The volunteer body is generally comprised of program alumni, and their families, former host families, and teachers. Volunteers are unpaid. These are the people who keep the wheels of AFS running.The essence of any AFS program is ‘Stay and Study’ in a different cultural setting. Participants live with a host family experiencing home and family life that is in many ways different to their own culture and routine.

The benefits of this intercultural experience are manifold. The participant, the host family, host school, and the community get an opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world.

AFS believes that we must build bridges of understanding and mutual respect between countries and cultures around the world. We further believe that today’s youth – and tomorrow’s leaders – are among the best “bridge builders” between nations.


Statement of Purpose


AFS is an international, voluntary, non-governmental, non-profit organization that provides intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world.


AFS Vision for 2020


We pursue our mission by providing quality intercultural learning opportunities for a growing number of young people, families, other stakeholders and wider audiences, thus developing an inclusive community of global citizens determined to build bridges between cultures.

Real life experiential learning, supported by structured reflection, is the core of our programs. We endeavor to link our intercultural learning opportunities to the defining global issues facing humanity. We reach out to past, current and future participants, volunteers, and other stakeholders using the media and technology they use.

Volunteers and volunteerism are who we are. Our organization brings about changes in lives through and for our global community of volunteers.

We are recognized as an educational organization by schools and the appropriate authorities. We work to create a regulatory environment that supports our programs.

As a learning organization, we welcome change and critical thinking. We are innovative and entrepreneurial in advancing the strategic directions, working together with others whenever appropriate.

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