Arete: The Meaning of Life
Bheeni Jajodia, Class VIII F
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 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. AFS has been doing intercultural programs since 1947, currently present in more than 54 countries with over 14,000 exchanges per year.
Since 1947, when the first student exchanges took place, more than 3, 60,000 participants and a similar number of host families have been a part of AFS worldwide. Presently there are more than 40,000 active volunteers worldwide in various roles including board leadership, program operations, participant support, and marketing.
In India, AFS was present in 1960s. However, due to political reasons, it ceased its operations. In 2005, AFS India restarted and registered itself under section 25 of Companies Act, 1956 and since then has been growing in terms of its visibility, its offerings, and diversity of programs over the country. With a pool of 750 volunteers, AFS has its foothold in 27 cities of India. In its 11 years of existence, AFS India has hosted more than 900 students and sent around 1200 students on its programs and has been able to build its association with 150 plus school pan India.
The volunteer body of AFS India primarily comprises of AFS alumni and their families; current & former host families; and educators. These are the people who keep the wheels of AFS running, dedicating their time and efforts for the organization.
AFS India’s vision for 2020 is to be the leading organization in intercultural education and experience that focuses on growing its programs for the underserved. We have been encouraging students, volunteers and families to embrace change making and social impact projects to improve local, national and global communities while supporting and valuing initiatives that extend our “learning to live together” philosophy to make a real difference in the world. We look forward to using all the structured intercultural learning tools to help everyone involved to collaborate with each other and lead across cultural differences.