AFS

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3.6 / 10 after 48 Reviews Based on overall, support & value average ratings
Program website: http://www.afsusa.org

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AFS is one of the most reccomended programs, aside from Rotary, and I can understand why. There is a large support system and many different programs. However, it all depends on the location. AFS Finland is terrible! Aside from making comments on Finns and Finnish culture in general, the AFS Finland staff is not willing to help. I was in a bad host family who emotionally neglected and abused me. I confessed my concerns over and over for an entire month before AFS finally changed my families. They then, knowing I had anxiety, sent me to nothern Finland where I was having severe anxiety problems! I professed concerns immediately; health is not something you mess with. I even had a willing family down south, but still, AFS told me to wait it out. The AFS people from northern Finland were even worse! They wanted me to get pills and just stay; quick fix. Not very mature to sweep the problem under the rug like that.

Then, when all the semester kids asked to change to year they refused and said '10 years ago they put a rule..' which is terrible because it could be changed if they really sincerely cared about us and wanted to make an effort.

AFS aside,

I do NOT recommend a Finland exchange at all! ALL of the people on semester in Finland are really hating it. It isn't worth the hype or our time. Maybe we will look back in a few years and understand, but for now, it was not worth the $10,000.

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Location:
Posted: December 1, 2010
Overall:
6
Support:
2
Value:
7
By: Shironess
Age:
New User

I was raped during my AFS year and after they found out they tried to just send me back home without calling the police. One of the AFS volunteers did so, because I was forced to move away to her house for a week.
AFS turned thier backs and the government stepped in so I could finish my year at a friend's home.
Don't put your child through this, Rotary is a much better option.

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Posted: August 24, 2010
Overall:
0 (worst)
Support:
0
Value:
0
By: Anonymous
Age:

Comments

I was an exchange student with the Rotary Club in Brazil and they placed me in a home in a bad neighborhood and the house was robbed and I was raped and strangled. When I got home a member called me and told me repeatedly that it never happened. They are not reputable either.

My daughter, a high school senior, went on a 6 month study abroad in Costa Rica with AFS two years ago. AFS in our hometown in the US is a wonderfully run and very successful program and I mistakenly assumed it was like this everywhere. I was very wrong. To all parents, be VERY cautious about sending your children abroad with AFS. My view, from checking out the organization further, is that the organization is being run as a boondoggle for the national board and executives of the organization (check out their parties and travel) with little concern about the kids. My child was put in a very dangerous, drug invested area of town, no doors or windows on the house, with a physically abusive father and a mom that was called to a hotel at all hours of the night to perform some type of 'services.' AFS refused to find her another house and insinuated I was discriminating against lower class people. Finally, my daughter found her own new home with another girl she met at her school. I was ready to send in a SWAT team, and AFS was no help, would not return calls, etc. One of the teachers at the local high school helped her as he understood how bad her situation was. In summary, the local AFS people would put students with any type of family and often suggested the students parents send additional money, gifts to help students. Many students were in dangerous homes--one had a Dad that would get drunk and play with his gun collection around the family. Another girl was raped.
My daughter stayed for the full six months, in an area so dangerous she couldn't leave the house after dark. And she was determined to make the most of it and has strong friendships she developed (eg some of your closest friends come when you're under duress--but this isn't what I spent $10,000 for) She learned a lot and came home very mature. As a parent, do NOT send your child with AFS unless you have thoroughly researched the program in that country. Honestly, I would not use AFS in any case. Check out the boy in Turkey from a few years back. AFS outside the US is not safe for high school kids. I say this with sadness as the AFS program in Kansas City is fabulous.

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Posted: May 22, 2010
Overall:
2
Support:
0
Value:
2
By: Anonymous
Age:

Comments

I had an experience not dissimilar in Paraguay when I was 16. No help from the AFS staff in Asuncion - infact even though they could speak English they refused to. My host brother organised the whole thing - my host parents had no idea I was tunring up and they thought I was an overseas main who had turned up to clean their house. Overall I had a good experience but I do feel there needs to be more vetting about where the kids go. Paraguay is a very poor country - people are looking for ways to make money, and they see a foreigner as a way to do so.

I went to france for the year program and my experience with school and friends was greaat. But when the school day came to an end I dreaded going 'home'. They basically just take any family they want and let them host. My host mother would yell and me all the time, my host brother would always be on the computer and over all I felt very unconfortable. I would have to walk down a moutain in the rain some days very early in the morning to catch the bus while my host brother would get ride to school-we started school at the same time...
I asked to change host families and I regretted that so much. My next host family was just a young couple with a little toddler. The husband was never home and the wife was s stay at home mom so didnt do anything. I was forced to sleep on the floor and the forced to babysit the little girl all the time. the little gril distroyed everything I owned and I could never just relax. Then my family would tell AFS that I wouldnt spend time with them though I was ALWAYS WATCHING THIER KID. I finally decided to go just go home early after the 8 month mark. AFS never told my family or I until the day before I had to go to a temp family across town where I didnt know what day my flight was until the night before..
I had an AWFUL experience and eegret ever going and wasting $13000 on the trip but I did no other students who had the same expereince and others who had a wonderful experience and love their family very much. I think it was about 50/50 in my area of student who had an awful time and students who had a good time. There was so grey areas though..it was either a terrible situtation(I knew another student who had a worse expereince than me) or a great situation

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Posted: July 30, 2009
Overall:
4
Support:
1
Value:
1
By: Anonymous
Age:

Comments

We had a horrible experience with AFS. AFS charges exorbitant fees to exchange students. Our AFS student from Germany told us she paid $20,000 for her year in the US. The money goes to pay AFS staff, but they give nothing in return. Once an AFS student arrives, the student knows that she/he can find a "better" deal with a different family and can immediately dump your family for no reason. If the student wants to move to a family they think is better, AFS will immediately move them to a new family, without reason, regardless of how much it hurts your family. All that is important to AFS is the fees the student pays. They are ruthless profitteers. An AFS student we know had her teacher make an announcement to her classes that she didn't like her host family, and she was looking for a new family. AFS immediately rewarded her by moving her to a different family the same day. When I was in high school in the 1970's, AFS had a good reputation. Not any more. There is a reason that AFS receives such terrible ratings on this site and others. AFS has turned into an exploitative organization. My advice is to STAY AWAY FROM AFS!

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