Volunteer Spotlight March 2020

Volunteer Spotlight March 2020

Darlene Frederickson                                

Greensburg, PA                                          

Western Pennsylvania Team                                


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

I learned about AFS in high school and won a scholarship to Peru for the summer of 1967. It was my first experience to travel, experience living in a home very different from mine and from that experience I knew I wanted to always be involved with AFS.

What keeps you coming back to volunteer each year?

There are some experiences in life that money can’t buy. Volunteering with AFS is that experience. I have hosted 28 students (27 different countries) and every hosting experience has been a special addition to my life. As an Elementary Teacher, it also added greatly to my teaching career. I keep coming back as a volunteer because I want others to know about AFS. The volunteers in my high school almost 53 years ago changed by life and I want to continue the mission of AFS.

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

What I have learned is we are more the same then different and for world peace we need to promote that. I personally have learned about cultures, religions, languages and know it is possible to love and care for each other if we just step out of our comfort zone. The world is an exciting place and to host, volunteer, meet new exchange students new host families each year is to experience that in my own home.

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

For me as a single host mom with now 10 double placements, I have 28 international children (doubles are sort of like twins) and places to travel and be welcomed for the rest of my life. It is such a joy to be greeted at the airport in a foreign country by someone you only knew for a year but feel like you knew them for a lifetime. Meeting their natural family, seeing where they live and enjoying what they want to show you is priceless and the best experience ever. The funniest things are when you totally misunderstand each other and later can laugh about it, that all comes from volunteering your home. Also as an AFS volunteer I get messages from around the world from students I have helped by placing or counseling and it is a wonderful feeling that I can try and help world peace. Finally, some of my best friends I met volunteering for AFS are amazing Americans I would have never known had I not volunteered with AFS.

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

If you believe the old AFS motto of Walk together, Talk together, All ye people of the earth. Then, and only then, Shall we have peace, you want to volunteer. Volunteering is one of the best possibilities of American culture you can be a part of for free!!! Through orientations you personally learn and grow, become a better listener, learn compromise which helps all phases of your life.

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

I had an Irish Catholic Grandfather on my mother’s side and a Swedish Lutheran Grandfather on my father’s side, had 5 sisters and one brother so I have sort of lived cultural differences and compromise all my life.