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18 December 2014

100 Years of Volunteer Service through Student Exchange Programs

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In 2014 AFS is commemorating 100 years of volunteer service through student exchange programs across international borders, and celebrating AFS’ contributions to increasing intercultural awareness, tolerance and more effective communications. We believe that “learning to live together” through real life intercultural experiences, structured learning and reflection provide a strong foundation for becoming a global citizen.

The Origins of AFS

AFS Intercultural Programs began as the American Field Service (AFS), a voluntary ambulance organization which emerged soon after the outbreak of World War I and served in every major battle in France. The ambulance service was reactivated at the start of World War II by Stephen Galatti. More than 2000 volunteers had served in France, North Africa, the Middle East, Italy, Germany, India and Burma, and carried more than 700,000 casualties from both sides of the war.

School Exchange Programs

In 1946 the AFS ambulance drivers discussed the future of the organization and in 1947 under the leadership of Stephen Galatti they launched the first exchange program, the first secondary school students arrived in the United States on a scholarship program, amongst them were three Czechoslovakians, future founders of AFS Mezikulturní programy in the Czech Republic in 1990´s.

Today, AFS is a global community of more than 50 partner organizations that support intercultural learning, principally through exchange programs. In 2014, 100 years after the volunteers sailed to France to serve as ambulance drivers, AFS commemorates the centennial of its founding and the remarkable transformation of the organization through the decades.

In the Czech Republic AFS will celebrate soon 20th Anniversary, until now have offered the intercultural learning opportunities to more than 2000 students from the Czech Republic and other countries. In order to continue spreading our mission, AFS Mezikulturní programy is happy to announce the great opportunity for the high school students who wish to get to know Dutch culture from inside within the scholarship exchange year program starting in late summer 2015. For more information please visit

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