Volunteer Spotlight: Leesa Potts

Volunteer Spotlight: Leesa Potts

How did you learn about AFS and what prompted you to get involved?
Almost ten years ago, a co-worker mentioned it to me. She called me in July, I persuaded my husband to get on board with the idea, and then our first student arrived in Sept! After such a great first year, I didn’t want to host to again because I wondered how could the next year or the next student be as good as this first experience. This time it was my husband’s turn to persuade. I am so glad he did! Now as we prepare to welcome our 6th student neither of us need persuading: Hosting and volunteering with AFS is just what we love to do!

What keeps you coming back to volunteer each year?
I keep coming back to AFS because it is fun and challenging. Each year as I meet new people and learn about new cultures, I also learn about myself. This challenges me to be a better global citizen. Plus, being involved is just fun! The Dallas/Denton area team volunteers are fun and I love watching the students experience new things during their exchange. Mostly though: Each time we host our global family grows; and, that is what brings us back year after year.

What’s a typical volunteer “shift” like for you?
As host mom, the shift never ends when we have a student! As a liaison, I meet with students and families monthly. I try to plan a simple outing for me and my student(s) so that we can chat. My favorite “shift” was when I was a liaison for a student from Pakistan. I asked her to come help me plant flowers and we had a great time! As a team volunteer, I try to attend some team meetings and fill in as needed. I may help with transportation, host family interviews or planning social activities.

What have you learned or how have you been personally affected by your experience with AFS?
AFS has taught me that, in general, we are more alike than we are different. At the end of the day, we all want to feel connected, encouraged and loved by one another no matter our age, language, or culture.

Please share the best or the funniest thing that’s happened to you while volunteering with AFS.
There are so many stories that come to mind. Definitely, the best is the long-term connections. I love that I keep in touch with students! Even though the exchange year ends, our connection doesn’t have to. Our international family is definitely the best part of AFS. One story that comes to mind, is when a student from Finland visited my home. I was her liaison and I was showing her our home. Proudly, I told her, “This is the house I grew up in during middle school and high school.” To which she responded, “But, this house isn’t that old?” True, the house is about 15 years younger than me, but what a way to point out my old age!

What do you want to say to people who might be interested in volunteering with AFS?
I would like to say: Give it a try. It may not be for everyone, it just may be for you! There are so many ways to get involved. You can be a liaison, join an activity, or volunteer for an event. There is a place for you to serve!

What’s one thing AFS volunteers and staff don’t know about you?
Not sure how to respond, but here is something silly! Fun Fact: I own more hats than pairs of shoes!