2022 AFS-USA Summit Celebrates 75 Years of Exchange Programs

2022 AFS-USA Summit Celebrates 75 Years of Exchange Programs


The 2022 AFS-USA Summit was held in St. Louis the weekend of November 4. Presented by the AFS-USA National Council, the Summit welcomed volunteers representing the AFS-USA Board of Directors, President’s Council, National Council, Advisory Groups, National Council Committees, and school outreach volunteers nationwide, along with key AFS-USA staff.

The opening keynote speaker was US Department of State’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Professional and Cultural Exchanges, Stacy White. She brought greetings and thanks from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and reinforced the message that AFS-USA and its programs are an important component of the department’s soft diplomacy strategy.

The opening evening keynote speaker was Jenny K. Messner of the AFS-USA President’s Council, who with her husband Michael Messner, established the Speedwell Foundation Study Abroad Scholarship Program with AFS-USA in 2007. The program ran for 12 years and sent nearly 200 students from Pennsylvania on year programs abroad.

Much of the Summit was devoted to Advisory Group (AG) meeting time: goal setting, brainstorming and inter-group collaboration. Each AG reviewed goals set in 2022 and all are in the process of updating for 2023. The School Outreach volunteers in attendance had some time to meet with and learn from one another during the weekend.

Watch MyAFS News for more as AG initiatives and best practices are launched to help local volunteers do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.

2022 Volunteer Recognition Awards: The 2022 Volunteer Recognition Awards were presented during the AFS Summit. These awards celebrate and acknowledge the contributions that volunteers make to AFS. To learn more about these awards, please see the article in Help & Learning here.

Dream Team Award: The Western New York Area Team is the Recipient of the 2022 Dream Team Award. Chaired by Ann and Steve Sweet, the Team works to involve new and established volunteers. They hold regular meetings, celebrate accomplishments, ensure that new volunteers are connected with established ones, and look for ways to engage with schools and community-based organizations to expand positive awareness of the AFS brand. Most of all, they ensure that volunteers feel invited and encouraged to participate in meaningful ways in the life of the organization at both the local and national levels, and they are recognized for their efforts.

Emerging Leader Award: Carla Craig-Koch, of the Heartland Team, is the Recipient of the 2022 Emerging Leader Award. After recently moving to the Heartland Team, she agreed to take on the role of Support Coordinator. Her appreciation for cultural differences and how they affect the hosting experience were a model for other volunteers. As a forward-thinking Support Coordinator, Carla encourages Team members to continue with additional training opportunities related to understanding different cultures.

Mission Award: Lisa Hendrickson, of the World Flags Area Team, is the Recipient of the 2022 Mission Award. Lisa wears many hats — School Outreach Coordinator, Associate Support Coordinator, Orientation Volunteer, School Representative, and Liaison are just a few! As one of the initial School Outreach Coordinators, Lisa is helping to develop this role on a national level while also serving on the School Outreach Advisory Group. She has encouraged many Team members to take the training to become a School Representative. She also works with volunteers to make sure teachers know about the Global Educator newsletter and other resources available to them.

Peggy and Art Howe Award: Dona & Joshua Goede, of the World Flags Team, are the Recipients of the 2022 Peggy and Art Howe Award. Dona is the Team Chair and Sponsored Programs Cluster Coordinator. She also Chairs the National Council Orientations Advisory Group. Josh serves as the Orientations Coordinator, Travel Coordinator, and Liaison. Dona & Josh are a busy couple who devote their time in promoting and supporting AFS programs. They go above and beyond in planning meetings and orientations, and communicate regularly with members of their AFS Area Team.

Galatti Award: Carol Collins, of the Western New York Area Team is this year’s Recipient of the 2022 Galatti Award. Carol has been with AFS for more than 20 years, initially volunteering with Sponsored Programs. More recently, she became the Coordinator for Hosting and School Outreach, and is also a member of the National Council School Outreach Advisory Group.

She coordinates comprehensive cultural enrichment and educational activities for all the students and volunteers throughout the year. Despite the challenging post-Covid climate, she has found ways to develop hosting opportunities, which resulted in the Team exceeding their hosting goals.

Carol embodies the core values of AFS and believes that the next generation can help spread peace through sharing cultures and everyday experiences.

AFS-USA is fortunate to have volunteers to drive its mission! The Volunteer Recognition Committee strives to honor all volunteers for their extraordinary service locally, nationally, and globally, and congratulates all Award Recipients and AFS-USA volunteers for the vital work they do to spread peace throughout the world. Watch MyAFS News for information on how to nominate volunteers for a 2023 Volunteer Recognition Award.

You can find recordings of key moments and sessions from this weekend’s Summit by viewing this YouTube playlist. Photos from the event can be found in this Flickr Album. Stay tuned as we add more content to the playlist and album this week!