" My name is Kate Johnson and I am a volunteer with the Yellowknife chapter of AFS. I volunteer because I feel it is important to give back to my community and I chose AFS specifically because I participated in the year-long program to France when I was a teenager.
In my role as Activities Coordinator, I have the opportunity to plan activities for both the exchange students and their families. I enjoy meeting and working with young people as well as learning about different countries throughout the world. "
Paula Fortier, Deux-Monts Chapter
"If we became a host family for the first time,it was because of our son’s AFS friends in Sept-Îles, who convinced us to give a student the chance to live one year in Québec. In fact, we also have been lucky to know not only our students but also their friends coming from very diverse countries! We had our first daughter in 2000 and she was followed by 3 girls and 4 boys. What a wonderful experience to see them gain confidence in themselves and, one by one, become adults. We are happy to visit them in their country or to have them here again. Having had 4 students who speak German convinced me to take German lessons to make our visits to their country more enjoyable. When I moved to the suburbs of Montreal I became a counselor and the following year I joined the local committee. Working with young people helps keep us young at heart and open minded."
" I am Ivonne Bayona, I was born in Colombia and travelled with AFS to Hungary in 99-00. Upon my return I volunteered for over 3 years as counselor and providing guidance to future travelers. By passing down my experiences to new AFS-ers I can plant a little seed for them to be proud of their heritage, culture and most importantly, their own personality, so that in their host country they can be an ambassador of their home country and thus embrace the best of their experience abroad. It was through my AFS experience abroad and at home that I learnt how TOLERANCE is the driving force for community living, understanding and positively acknowledging each other’s differences that we can grow together as a better community."
Alba Menjivar-Espinoza, Winnipeg, MB
"I have been in contact with AFS for about 3 years now, as an interviewer. I decided to volunteer for AFS because I like to have a good knowledge of resources for young people and to make it available to whoever is in need. By helping a young person to gain new experiences, learn other cultures and customs and learn new languages, I know that their life will change in a positive way for ever. To be able to bring home their stories and experiences to their family about what they experienced. Helping a youth open their eyes to world outside theirs in turn broadening their horizons for their future and change their perspective in life for the better. It is a wonderful experience meeting amazing youths, their families and hearing about their aspirations for the future. It’s a great feeling the fact that I am contributing to their success in fulfilling their dreams, helping to shape a youth to become a great person and some day contribute great things to their community and society. Finaly, by sharing experiences with new people from different backgrounds, it can help me to grow as a human being. "
René Lauzier –Trois-Rivières Chapter
Hello, my name is René Lauzier. I have been a member of AFS since ’98-’99. Igot involved as a host family after seeing an ad and a story on TV about a foreign exchange student. Since then, we’ve hosted 9 times and I’ve been a counselor 3 times. As president of the committee, I have worked with 130 youth hosted in the region.
In all honesty, I can say that there was a world before AFS and another after. I listen differently to international news and watch the Olympics in a new way. I know that there are parts of us in the world. As my daughter said when we came back from the airport, crying like children, when one of our exchange students left: “It’s the price you pay to experience such wonderful moments.”
Stéphanie Lévesque, Deux-Mont Chapter
"Hello, my name is Stéphanie Lévesque and I participated in the year-long program in the Netherlands in 2005-2006. Since I returned, I have been volunteering for AFS in the Granby region. I started off with a booth in a secondary school in the region and then continued on to take charge of interviews, become a counselor and, finally, be a mentor. Thanks to AFS, I discovered a new culture, that of the Netherlands, but I also deepened my understanding of my own culture which I continue to discover through the many experiences my volunteer work has provided. It’s easy to find motivation when you meet all of the young people full of ambition and when you realize that, slowly but surely, people all over the world are learning to know and love one another!"
Aline Lauzier –Trois-Rivières Chapter
" As a volunteer with AFS in Trois-Rivières for 13 years, I have been a host, counselor and activity coordinator. I am now a faciliatator and trainer, and in charge of the counselors. This volunteer opportunity has put me in direct contact with extraordinary people and motivating and motivated youth. The experience has led to the development of an open spirit and ongoing questioning, rather than resting on preconceived ideas and prejudices. I don’t know if my action is changing the world but I know that it has changed me. For the better I hope. I think that it’s also in small ways to our own degree, like spreading waves, that we can change the world around us."
Helene St-Jacques, Montreal Chapter
"I have been volunteering with AFS since 2003, the year following my return from Panama. The year that I spent in Panama was wonderful and I wanted to find a way which would allow others to live a similar experience. Although my initial involvement in AFS was somewhat limited, I rapidly assumed responsibility for the Montreal committee between 2005 and 2009 and it turned out to be a fulfilling and motivating experience. Since 2004, I have been participating in the pre-departure camps for young Quebecers and it was for me the best way to become involved. The twinkling and exciting eyes of these young people who were considering plans for their lives (because it was) with motivation and interest was just as lucrative as their reflections upon their return. To see these adolescents who were in search of themselves leave and then return a year later as adult members of our international community was the best guarantee of involvement that there was for me!"
Ghislaine and Maurice Morin, Beauce Chapter
"What motivated us and what continues to motivate us is having activities and people at home all the time. We were hoping to help by offering a home, a family and our habits to someone of another culture. This has allowed us to gain knowledge about the world, especially of the countries where the students are from. We enjoy seeing the students grow in another language, in another school and with new friends. Volunteering helps one discover different cultures and establish good relations between peoples of different nationalities. Before the creation of the committee, we acted as interviewing counselors and then as members of the committee, but also and especially as host families that we were comfortable doing. Since 1984, we have hosted as many as 10 students (alternatively, males and females) from different countries. This year we are hosting our 11th student who is from Brazil."
Josette Drouin, Trois-Rivieres Chapter
"I have been an AFS volunteer for a little over 5 years. I started by hosting students. The Trois-Rivieres committee was searching for someone who would assist the person responsible for sending students abroad. I expressed an interest in serving in this capacity and I became an assistant. I have since served as a chapter member, a counselor and activities coordinator. I’ve found an enormous amount of pleasure serving in each of these positions and I have the impression that I am leaving an impact on my community and my country. We are representatives, local ambassadors and that is what the young people living among us will bring back to their environments. This idea makes me very happy. Finally, the persons who are involved in the organization possess qualities that are similar to mine. We are like a family. Within the organization I have learnt what solidarity, comprehension, trust and mutual assistance means at different levels: within the family, as counselor and in my other activities."