Study Abroad Program Update: Summer 2020 Programs

Study Abroad Program Update: Summer 2020 Programs

Dear Volunteers,

In consultation with the global network of AFS organizations, the AFS International (the governing body of all AFS organizations) leadership has made the very difficult decision to cancel all summer 2020 programs. In our 70+ years of exchange, this is the first time that AFS has enacted such a significant program cancellation. However, this unprecedented time calls for a strong, thoughtful decision that prioritizes the health and well-being of our AFS family.

At this time, AFS worldwide has not made any decisions about our Year and Semester programs planned to depart in fall. The BP summer program will take place, but via virtual exchange as opposed to physical, and we are working closely with BP to develop online content.

How the AFS Network arrived at this decision:

Given the COVID-19 environment, we feel it is in the best interest of the participants, host families, volunteers, and staff to curtail summer programs at this time. As I am sure you know and can appreciate, in many cases travel and logistics are not feasible or are unreliable at best. AFS prides itself on delivering a high-quality program and we believe that the current environment would compromise that program quality. While we remain optimistic that our programs will resume in the future, we think it is important to make this decision for summer programs now, before we get too close to program departure dates.

We ask, however, that you do not communicate this information to any Summer applicants or parents/guardians yet.

A message from Tara Hofmann, AFS-USA President, will be sent later this evening and will include guidance on next steps. Those steps will include outreach from the Study Abroad Specialist who has been working with each family to complete and transfer their student’s application. The Specialists will discuss available options with the applicant and their family, and we hope that many will move their application to a Fall Year/Semester or a Summer 2021 program.

Applicants who are unable to move forward with an AFS experience will receive a refund on any payments made toward their program fee including the program deposit.

Please note that any scheduled interviews for Summer applicants can be put on hold until we’ve confirmed whether or not they are interested in a future program with AFS.

We know that you have also invested so much time and energy in guiding our applicants and their families and we want to thank you for your continued support of them as we continue to navigate the difficult decisions presented to us in this new world. We look forward to running our summer programs in 2021 and partnering with you to deliver our essential mission at this critical moment in time.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out directly to me. Otherwise, the Study Abroad Specialist working with your team will be happy to provide updates or information regarding specific applicants, or you can contact your Study Abroad Field Specialist. You can see who your assigned staff are and access their contact information on the MyAFS Team widget. Thank you again for everything that you do.

With thanks,

Caitlin Schneider
Senior Director, Study Abroad Experience and Operations
(preferred pronouns: she, her, hers)
Phone: (646) 751-2126