Teachers and educators have long been an integral part of AFS’s secondary school intercultural exchange programs and we have always highly appreciated the placement and support that schools give to our exchange students. To further improve our ongoing and important collaboration with the formal education sector, in early 2015, a new AFS Educator and School Relations Project was launched and is underway today.

The aim of this training and outreach initiative is to help AFS member organizations around the world find mutually beneficial ways to truly serve and collaborate with educators and schools. This new and comprehensive approach works with the educational community as a whole and includes both local and institutional levels. It improves how relationships between AFS and educators are built and maintained while also reinforcing AFS’s own role as a (non-formal) educational organization.

The highlight of the project is the AFS Educator & School Relations Handbook. An important new resource for AFS school and educator liaison volunteers and staff, the handbook assembles successful and new practices alike, and presents key learnings and insights from those AFS organizations who already have particularly strong relationships with schools in their countries.

It provides helpful guidelines and shares tools to help AFS organizations build sustainable partnerships that serve the needs of rapidly changing schools and at the same time enhance both the quality of AFS exchange programs and the abilities of schools to support the intercultural competence development of not only exchange program participants, but all students in their classrooms.

The handbook has been developed with the support of a group of 10 experts and practitioners from a variety of backgrounds, from within and outside of AFS — including, of course teachers and other formal educators!

Both a strategic document and a collection of hands-on and practical tools, the handbook features real-life experiences from AFS organizations around the world, plus templates and reference materials.

It is organized in four areas:

  • Framework for Educator & School Relations in AFS
  • The Educator & School Relations Action Plan
  • School Relations Toolkit
  • Institutional Relations Toolkit

and will be released in early 2016.

In the meantime, within the global AFS community, we have established a core group of Educator & School Relations Responsibles . These highly motivated staff members work with local and national educational communities, and serve as a contact point for communications on this subject for and across AFS. Having this officially recognized group structure encourages the exchange of knowledge, insights and experiences among those who are in this role — and ultimately strengthens the partnerships between AFS and educators and schools.

Thank you to all of the AFS organizations and individuals who have already committed their time, inputs and resources into establishing and launching this important initiative.

AFS strongly believes that strengthening our work together with other educators and schools will have a positive impact on educating and empowering young global citizens around the world.

Written by Eva Vitkova, Educator Relations & Strategy Specialist, AFS Intercultural Programs. Originally published in Connect: Intercultural Insights for Global Citizens — curated by AFS Intercultural Programs.