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AFS Volunteer Voices
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3 Jun 2016
Hakkari - Izmir Local Exchange Goes Into Second Year
It has been a tough year in Turkey, no need to sugar-coat it. When the AFS Volunteers organized the first Hakkari - Izmir Local Exchange in 2015, we were talking of peace throughout the country. Things were getting better; things were going to be much much better. We were going to laugh together, sing together, dance together. Then it didn't happen... Then bombs started exploding. Then people started dying in hundreds...
17 May 2016
My AFS Coming-out Story
Homophobia and transphobia – fears that turn into hate. Unfortunately, we still live in a world where these two are present. But what does that have to do with AFS? Today is IDAHOT - the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. An important date to remember that in many places in the world, LGBT youth still face exclusion and discrimination in our society. We believe that AFS can play an important...
11 May 2016
The first students from Hakkari travel abroad!
This story starts somewhere in Izmir, Turkey with a group of dedicated AFS volunteers and takes us to Faro in Portugal. It reminds us of what the AFS mission is all about. Cultural differences within a country can sometimes be even bigger than those across continents. At AFS, we are very good at creating bridges between different nations. However, we rarely focus on the diversity within nations. This has recently changed...
Alondra Silva Muñoz
4 Apr 2016
Pride and privilege: how AFS experiences relate to social justice
As an AFS volunteer and returnee I often find it challenging to explain to outsiders what we do. From the simplest explanation about our school programs to a long discussion about our volunteer development strategies, I have always found it difficult to explain impact of our work to those outside the AFS network. The dynamic of ...
8 Mar 2016
Grassroots volunteers for greener AFS events - How can we make our events more sustainable?
Food. Flights. Reduce. Paper. Plastic. Waste. Recycle. Reuse. Materials. Alternatives. Information. Awareness. Promotion. Actions. Sustainability. These are some of the keywords from the discussion that we, the volunteers of AFS, are currently having about how we can make AFS a more sustainable organization. When I heard there w...
26 Feb 2016
Turkish AFS Volunteers Launch New Grassroots Initiative
Humankind has always imagined the future. We imagined a more secure cave as a shelter. We imagined more food, a warmer home. We imagined vehicles that go on their own and to fly. As we approached the 21st century, we imagined trips to Mars, colonies in space, time machines. We imagined Back to the Future’s and Jetsons...
15 Jan 2016
What's Happening in Hakkâri?
At the beginning of November, we have shared with you a powerful story from Turkey about the project in Hakkâri who won the 2015 ChangeMaker Award for Organizational Innovation. This is how the story continues. It is almost the end of the year. Unlike the rest of the country and much of Europe that still enjoys spri...
18 Dec 2015
"I didn’t know refugees were like this…"
Today is the International Day of Migrants, which gives us an opportunity to reflect on what Intercultural Dialogue and Peace mean in a world with 232 million migrants. Within that huge group, the notions of Peace and ICL seem even more relevant to the around 60 million forcibly displaced people (refugees and internally displace...
8 Dec 2015
AFS Turkey takes first steps as a Changemaker
Take a breath and imagine a community that embraces intercultural learning and wants to make a positive impact in the world. A community that values respect for differences, using the most powerful tool of giving people a chance to live the intercultural experience themselves and thus, create a change in their lives. As AFS Turk...
28 Nov 2015
“We are no longer anonymous” - an interview on blogging and collaboration with Daniel Eckhart
Is blogging the right tool for us volunteers to contribute to this organization? What potential does blogging have? These kind of questions have been on our minds when we started this blog about a month ago. When we met during an AFS training, we asked Daniel Eckhart, community manager at the international reinsurance company Sw...
20 Nov 2015
Youth Forum for Peace in Mendoza - Foro de Jóvenes Mendocinos por la Paz
This week we would like to share with you an amazing volunteer experience from Mendoza, Argentina. Rocío Bonadé writes about her experience of organizing a local Youth Forum on how to foster Peace in the local community. Inspired by the 100 Years Young Youth Symposium that happened last year during the Centennial C...
12 Nov 2015
Student assessment in Hakkari
The following experience from Turkey is by far not the usual volunteer work. Yet we believe it is a great example of what AFS can be if we work hard and are courageous. It’s another AFS weekend and this one starts at 4 a.m. on a Friday. Our flights are at 6.30, one of us leaving from Istanbul, the other from Izmir. Get up,...
11 Oct 2015
Coming Out Day: creating more space for diversity
It’s coming out day and in AFS we are celebrating! As AFS volunteers we are proud of the diversity within our ranks but we still struggle to openly show pride of our many queer AFS friends. But today, whether we are lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual or just an ally, today is the day to be proud of who we are and to openl...
2 Oct 2015
How neutral can we really be?
Do you know this feeling that you should “say something”, “do something” but you don’t really know how or what? Well, we often have that. And we believe that although AFS is a nonpolitical organization, as AFSers we should take a stand for what we believe in. Countries endangered of disappearin...
2 Oct 2015
On the magic of collaboration at eye-level
The idea of AFS Switzerland’s “Strategy Engagement” meeting was to engage volunteers with the strategy for the upcoming years. What really happened was a lesson on horizontal collaboration. When I was invited together with other key volunteers to join a workshop with the aim to give feedback and engage w...
1 Oct 2015
Making Peace Relevant Again
Not that peace is not relevant in 2015, not at all. But peace is so hard to grasp. We do not live in a bi-polar world like 100 years ago when AFS was created. Our world is complex and the issue we face manyfold. That is why back at the Youth Forum in Argentina, a group of volunteers gathered around the idea of “social impa...