Volunteer Spotlight: Kathie Hiebert Dodd

Volunteer Spotlight: Kathie Hiebert Dodd

Meet Kathie Hiebert-Dodd, a volunteer with the New Mexico and Beyond Area Team for the past 17 years! Learn more about her AFS story here:

How did you learn about AFS and what prompted you to get involved?

A colleague at work, who sent his son on an AFS program, recommended me as a possible host family.  The Chair called me and told me about hosting.  When I called her back, I told her that my husband and I weren’t ready to host.  I then asked ” Are there other ways to get involved?  …. Yes there were and are 🙂

What keeps you coming back to volunteer each year? 

I started because I wanted to be involved with the students.  I keep coming back because of all the wonderful friends that make up our Team.  I truly believe in the AFS mission, in trying to bring people of all different backgrounds together.  It is rewarding to work with the team to see the difference in everyone’s lives, my fellow volunteers, and the students and host families.

What’s a typical volunteer “shift” like for you?  

24 x 7  — not really, but it seems that way at times 🙂

What have you learned or how have you been personally affected by your experience with AFS?

I have learned so much. The main lesson is basically how similar we are all. We are people, the same all over the world, but the cultural difference, and how wonderful to enjoy the different foods, and share traditions. I’ve been able to travel the world to visit our students, and to have that unique experience.

An interesting experience was in Northern Argentina, the student always said it reminded her of New Mexico, and when I had the opportunity to visit, I never felt so at home. The little villages. Lot of love out there, good people.

Please share the best or the funniest thing that’s happened to you while volunteering with AFS.

We were visiting Thailand, visiting several of our former area students. A student and her father were to meet us at the airport. We were coming from a Muslim wedding, so I had henna on my hands and arm.  When we saw her dad for the first time, her dad was so shocked to see all the tattoos on me, the person who was a support person for her daughter. The Thai dad thought my husband looked like Colonel Sanders, and stuck out right away in the airport. Again very interesting the images we have in mind, and being able to take those images and see the realities, and the beauty of combining cultures together. Learn so much.

What do you want to say to people who might be interested in volunteering with AFS?

Open your heart and your arms, and just do it. It will change your life.

What’s one thing AFS volunteers and staff don’t know about you?

I was one of 16 runners that helped carry the Olympic Torch from Golden, Colorado to Boise, Idaho on its journey to LA for the 1984 Olympics. Covered 128 miles, 8 miles a day through the mountains.  Because the torch wouldn’t stay lit at that altitude, they added another pound of weight for my group. In the middle of nowhere in UT, on the highway, a group of 400 girls from a camp lined the road as we came running by, so we made sure to hand off the torch during that time.

Photo of Kathie, husband Henry, and three former students to the New Mexico & Beyond Area Team at the AFS Indonesia 60 year celebration in Nov. 2016