Volunteers with the American Field Service, a humanitarian aid organisation which drove Ford ambulances into the battlefields of World Wars I and II to rescue the wounded from the battlefields, saw extreme misery and suffering in their work. While WWI was meant to be the war to end all wars, AFS volunteers were called on again less than 25 years later to participate in an even worse war.
AFS is the only student exchange organisation to have received a special citation from the United Nations for services to the youth of the world.
It started with war...
Then aimed for peace...
After the Allied victory, AFS volunteers were determined to find a way of preventing war and creating world peace. In 1946, those AFSers came together and created the vision of a student exchange programme to build bridges between cultures. As one of the 8 founding members of the programme, AFS New Zealand has been part of this dream of world peace through intercultural exchange since the beginning!
Over 300,000 students have participated in over 55 countries
The numbers add up!
In 75 years, AFS New Zealand alone has empowered over 20,000 sent and 20,000 hosted participants to develop global skills and the passion to make a difference in the world. Add to these numbers the amazing families who host the students and the incredible volunteers and staff who support them and make it all possible, and you have a true #afseffect – thousands of people with intercultural connections across the globe!
To the future
AFS New Zealand is very proud of its heritage and we are sure the original ambulance drivers and volunteers would be also proud with what has been achieved in the first 75 years. We know there is still much more to do as we move forward into the next 75 years, and we remain passionately determined to work towards achieving the vision of a culturally-sensitive and more peaceful world.