History of AFS India
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 50,000 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 50+ cities of India. In its 17 years of existence, AFS India has hosted more than 1400+ students and sent around 2000+ students on its programs and has been able to build its association with 250 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 2023 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 changemaking 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.
What we believe in
By linking our “learning to live together” philosophy to the defining global issues facing humanity, AFS fosters intercultural understanding as a powerful and productive tool for building a more just and peaceful world. The AFS global community embraces differences and believes our world is stronger and more interesting because of them.
AFS India Vision 2023
To be the leading organization in intercultural education and experience that focuses on growing its programs for the underserved.
AFS Intercultural Programs 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 enables people to act as responsible global citizens working for peace and understanding in a diverse world. It acknowledge that peace is a dynamic concept threatened by injustice, inequity, and intolerance.
AFS seeks to affirm faith in the dignity and worth of every human being and of all nations and cultures. It encourages respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms without distinction as to race, sex, language, religion or social status.
AFS activities are based on our core values of dignity, respect for differences, harmony, sensitivity and tolerance.
Global competence is the “power skill” young people require to make their impact on an increasingly diverse world. Active global citizens must be prepared to communicate, collaborate and lead across differences to tackle the world’s greatest challenges.
How we make a difference
Transformative: At different stages on amazing intercultural journeys—living, volunteering, working and collaborating with people around the world.
Multigenerational: A global community of students, young adults, volunteers, families, educators, alumni, and staff engaged and energized working together.
Inclusive: A welcoming, supportive network of confident, open-minded AFSers building bridges across cultures.
Everywhere: Making a difference in communities, across industries and at the forefront of important international issues and social causes.
The AFS global citizenship education agenda
What is global citizenship education?
Global citizenship education is a transformative, lifelong pursuit that involves both formal learning and practical experience. Global citizenship education helps people of all ages:
- Respect cultural, gender, faith and other differences
- Become more aware of the world beyond our own
- Understand our responsibilities as members of the global human community
- Embrace our roles in protecting our planet for a sustainable future
- Be mindful about how what we do locally impacts the greater world
AFS Alliances, Affiliations & Memberships
AFS and UNESCO
As of 2015, AFS is proud to have entered into a “consultative status” partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This status enables both organizations to collaborate on initiatives of mutual interest and social good.
AFS works closely and creatively with schools, universities, humanitarian and peace groups, governments and other NGOs on the issues that reflect our mission.