Our Kaupapa


AFS is a not-for-profit, volunteer-based organisation. Our founders were ambulance drivers during the First and Second World Wars who imagined a world in which intercultural connections ensured world peace, leading to our mission: ‘peace through friendship and cultural understanding’. We do not operate to obtain commercial gain from students.


Our organisation runs on volunteers who believe in our mission! Host families, support teams, host schools, orientation facilitators, home interviewers, and many more roles are all filled by volunteers who love AFS. When you go on an exchange with AFS, you become part of a 75-year history of turning strangers into life-long family and friends.


AFS is the same organisation worldwide, so we take care of you throughout your journey. We have 24-hour support for all AFS students and families, with proven risk management and emergency procedures. With over 50,000 volunteers worldwide, there is always help at hand should you need us – anywhere you go!

Experts in Global Education

Intercultural learning is at the heart of the education of exchange students, and AFS has a huge body of educational knowledge for students to tap into. As part of their programme, AFS exchange students participate in our world-leading intercultural education AFS Student Learning Journey. Developed in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Social Impact Strategy, this programme addresses key topics for intercultural learners to prepare our students for their experience.

At the end of their learning journey, every student leaves with the “AFS superpowers” that they need to make the world a better place through active global citizenship: adaptability, critical thinking, self-awareness, empathy, communication, valuing differences, open-mindedness, global awareness, and change-making.

The AFS Experience

Quick Facts

  • Globally, more than 12,000 AFS participants study abroad each year.
  • Over 10,000 New Zealanders have studied abroad through AFS including Sam Morgan (Trade Me), Peter Williams (broadcasting), Nick Smith (politics), Dame Anne Salmond (education) and Tungia Baker (actress).
  • Over 300,000 students worldwide have participated in AFS exchanges in the past 75 years.
  • AFS New Zealand has hosted more than 10,000 AFS students since 1947.
  • 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!