AFS is committed to providing intercultural learning experiences that help people become agents of positive change in the world. By offering exchange programs that are built around key educational goals, AFS has given more than 400,000 individuals the tools to grow into responsible global citizens.

Increased cultural competence is the stepping stone for a global tomorrow and a diverse today. In support of this mission, AFS has created 16 educational objectives, each focused on different aspects of personal, interpersonal and community development. These goals serve as the backbone for AFS exchange programs, and help participants develop the knowledge and skills that are necessary to succeed in an increasingly globalized workforce.

  1. Personal values and skills: As a result of their experiences, participants learn to turn difficult situations into valuable opportunities for personal growth. They are challenged to reassess their values, stretch their capacities and practice new life skills while gaining awareness of previously hidden aspects of their own personalities.

  2. Interpersonal relationship-building: AFS Participants become fully involved in daily living and working arrangements with a variety of people in the new environment, which are transferable to many other settings during the participant's lifetime.

  3. (Inter)cultural knowledge and sensitivity: The AFS exchange experience deepens participants' insights into their home culture as well as their knowledge of their host (or visiting) cultures—both strengths and weaknesses—from the perspective of an outsider.

  4. Global issues awareness: AFS Participants become able to empathize with their hosts’ perspective on some of these problems, and thus to appreciate that workable solutions must be culturally sensitive, not merely chronologically feasible.