March 25 Important YES/FLEX Program Announcements

March 25 Important YES/FLEX Program Announcements

Dear Field Staff and Volunteers,

AFS-USA has received a letter intended for all placement organizations from the Department of State in which they have shared their intention to shorten the FLEX and YES programs. They have noted that the Department of State’s goal is to safely transfer all FLEX and YES students home at the earliest opportunity.

We are sharing this with field staff and volunteers in advance, in order to prepare you for the many questions that you may receive. As you all know, travel availability at this time is extremely limited, so for many of our FLEX and YES students this means that they will have to shelter in place and wait until international flights to their home countries are again possible. AFS along with American Councils, as the two organizations that book travel for these students, have been tracking the ever-changing domestic and international flight restrictions and complications and there will be limited opportunities for movement in the next few weeks, it seems.

Our experience with the core participants is that occasionally a government-organized charter opportunity pops up with little notice and we will try to move students on those if possible. When responding to questions from host families and students, please make clear to them that AFS will be informing them of travel plans as they become available. AFS is currently working on plans to move those YES students who are still able to fly to their home countries, but as noted above, it is a very unstable environment for making travel arrangements and we will need time to coordinate domestic and international flights. For FLEX students, American Councils is responsible for booking students’ travel and are working under the same conditions described above. Their team will inform us as soon as they are able to coordinate flights.

Please keep in mind that we should prepare all students and host families for sudden changes in plans which may require them to move students quickly. As domestic airports are limiting flights this may also require transport to an airport further away from their homes.

We all know that news travels fast, and in this case some placement organizations may have already shared the news with their students and host families through less formal channels. AFS hopes for your understanding as we carefully coordinate the messaging to all stakeholders.

Thank you all for your patience and amazing support during these trying times. There will be some difficulties ahead, but we are proud to be working with so many dedicated staff, volunteers, host families, and students.

Thank you,

Tara M. Hofmann
President & CEO