A Message from the National Council to all AFS-USA Volunteers

A Message from the National Council to all AFS-USA Volunteers

Dear AFS-USA Volunteers,

We hope this message finds you all doing as well as you can in times like these. From all of us on the National Council, thank you for everything you are doing to assist AFS students, families, staff, and each other during this unprecedented time in the history of AFS, our country, and the world.

As was communicated in the message from Tara Hofmann on Monday March 16, the AFS International Network made the decision this week to shorten all core Year and Semester AFS Programs around the world. The only exception to this is students on YES and FLEX Sponsored Programs as that decision, if there is to be one, would come from the U.S. Department of State.

In a situation as complex and uncertain as the whole world finds itself in – with no assurances around how long all this uncertainty will last – it is easy to see why the International Trustees felt that shortening the program and getting students reunited with their home families is important, even difficult.

As a reminder, all of the communications that have been shared with host parents, hosted students, parents/guardians, and AFS-USA Volunteers are available to you in MyAFS News.

We realize that many of you may be encountering host families and students who have a lot of questions. We want to encourage you to refer to the explanation and language found in these official communications about students being returned to their families. As we know from what Tara has shared, the students will travel on different dates, dependent on the logistical feasibility and coordination with their home AFS organizations. Returning all the hosted students to their home and natural families will not take days, it will probably take several weeks due to the ever-changing logistical landscape.

All of us are in a difficult position, not just in our AFS lives. It’s difficult to know from one day to the next what is going to happen and which decisions that used to seem so mundane suddenly become incredibly complicated. There will be questions that simply cannot be answered right now given the best information we have. There are also many answers to questions that are necessarily not the answers some people will agree with. You are on the front-line, receiving a number of requests at a time when emotions are running as high as they ever have in our lifetime. You know this because you are likely feeling that way, too!

The complexities at hand for the organization are significant given AFS-USA is dealing with nearly 2,000 students and host families and more than 4,000 volunteers—not to mention more than 50 AFS Partners in countries all over the globe! You are part of an organization with 60,000 volunteers worldwide who are all committed to supporting our students and families, something that makes us so proud.

If you are a volunteer who feels that you want to do more during this time of great need, please approach your team chair. If you do not have contact information for your team chair, please feel free to write to us and we will make certain someone contacts you.

The National Council is here to support you, especially during tremendously challenging times like these. We do not say this lightly—AFS-USA has some of the most experienced, intelligent, globally-concerned and caring volunteers in the world. Thank you for all that you are doing and will continue to do in the weeks and months ahead. We need you.


Deb Maly
Milwaukee Area Team
National Council Chair
AFS-USA Board Member

Jim Walker
Capital Area Team
National Council Vice Chair
AFS-USA Board Member