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AFS History

AFS Intercultural Programs began as the American Ambulance Field Service (later to be known as the "American Field Service" or "AFS"), which was founded in April 1915 by A. Piatt Andrew, a former assistant professor of economics at Harvard, director of the U.S. Mint, and assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury.  Today, AFS is an international, voluntary, non-governmental, non-profit organization that provides intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world.

Please view our history timelinedownload our history leaflet (el cual también está disponible en español), or watch the video below to learn more about the fascinating history of AFS!



Visit the AFS History and Archives page to learn more! The history video above is courtesy of AFS USA, with the assistance of the AFS Archives.  Da click aqui para ver en español. La versión traducida es cortesía de AFS Costa Rica.

Statement of Purpose

AFS is an international, voluntary, non-governmental, non-profit organization that provides intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world.

AFS Vision for 2020

We pursue our mission by providing quality intercultural learning opportunities for a growing number of young people, families, other stakeholders and wider audiences, thus developing an inclusive community of global citizens determined to build bridges between cultures.

Real life experiential learning, supported by structured reflection, is the core of our programs. We endeavor to link our intercultural learning opportunities to the defining global issues facing humanity. We reach out to past, current and future participants, volunteers, and other stakeholders using the media and technology they use.

Volunteers and volunteerism are who we are. Our organization brings about changes in lives through and for our global community of volunteers.

We are recognized as an educational organization by schools and the appropriate authorities. We work to create a regulatory environment that supports our programs.

As a learning organization, we welcome change and critical thinking. We are innovative and entrepreneurial in advancing the strategic directions, working together with others whenever appropriate.