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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A total nightmare of an experience with this organization. Better screening needs to be done, regulations need to be followed, and the only type of support that host families receive is "damage control". If you want to be used, abused and totally taken advantage of with no support whatsoever with who is sent to your family - go for it. Our family will never forget our experience and the damage it has done on many levels.

Program:
Location:
Posted: May 23, 2016
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1
By: Leanne
Age:
46

Please, please, please if you are a student considering an exchange with AFS, or have already decided to use AFS, read this.
I'm not some kind of spammer, or someone from another company trying to prevent you from using this company, I'm a student too, who last year went with AFS on a year long exchange to Malaysia.
In hindsight, I understand that Malaysia is an out there, unusual destination, and of course it was not going to be easy, but it wasn't the cultural differences that made my exchange such an awful experience, it was AFS's way of dealing, with pretty much anything, that made it so bad.
This company uses volunteers for practically everything. Your host family, your Chapter Leaders, your co-ordinators, everyone is doing it for free. This, in theory sounds like a lovely idea, but it's not.
I lived with two different host families, and I found that after a month or so of living with a host-family that you do not pay, you become nothing more than a burden to them. The whole concept of letting someone live in your house for free is much worse than what you would expect. For my family, the idea of taking me out and showing me Malaysia became tiring to them, pretty soon they began to resent me, as they had to drive me to places, feed me and let me use their power, for nothing in return.
You might think that this was just a bad host-family, but, after three months I couldn't stand the guilt of living with people who resented me, and I decided to move. But within two months, the exact same thing began to happen.
It's not hard to understand that if a host-family were being paid to take care of a student, they would try their hardest to make it a good, and worthwhile experience for them. It's unfair to dump a stranger on a family who has nothing supporting them but their own goodwill.

Chapter Leaders, the people in charge of looking after you, helping you, and organising various events and social gatherings, are also volunteers. My Chapter Leader, who seemed to be one of the best in the country, according to all other exchange students, was an old woman with a full time job who lived three hours away from me.
She was truly a lovely lady, but she was too busy to ever really organise anything, and often we did not have enough money to do anything worthwhile. In Malaysia especially, it was hard to do anything without someone else organising it for you, over there, and most likely in similar countries, you can't simply go out and do your own thing, hell I couldn't even go for a walk down the street by myself.

I don't want to rant on, but please, please, please if you are reading this, consider another exchange company.
My dad was a very stubborn man, and he would not let me switch to a different company, or to another country, don't let your parents be like mine!!!
It has ruined my life, I feel so silly for wasting so much money and effort on an experience so miserable. PLEASE DON'T GO WITH THIS COMPANY!!

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Location:
Posted: April 27, 2016
Overall:
2
Support:
1
Value:
1
By: whittlep
Age:
17

We are hosting a German student in Ohio through the AFS program. We have found the program to be a hugely enjoyable experience. Our student has become a part of our family and I will consider him a son of mine for life.

The application was straight forward. The interview was prompt and the printed materials were very helpful. We have no problem providing room and board and even pay for other fees on occasion. We took our student to Florida and New York City. He's been a great student at our local high school and played on the soccer team.

The only thing that hasn't happened on a regular basis is the monthly check-ins. Fortunately, we all get along great and we have not had any issues to manage.

I also wonder why the program is so expensive. They have so many volunteers and outside of the flight and visa....where is all of the money going?

I definitely recommend AFS as a vehicle to experience time abroad as a student.

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Location:
Posted: March 29, 2016
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9
Age:

We have a exchange student from Norway that we hosted. For seven months and this child lied on her bio. She said she likes to draw take photography and so forth. We had her for seven months and it was the most difficult months of our lives. This girl doesn't talk she's always on her telephone and she just stayed in her room the whole time. Missing out on the culture that she came to United States for. It was frustrating and a difficult time for us as a family. It was like having a ghost in my house. This experience was very difficult for my family. We spent so much money on making her feel welcome and experiencing the city life of our state. This experience with this exchange student was more of a frustrating experience. We couldn't wait for her to leave and go back to her family. She doesn't do anything that we asked her to do such as clean her room or help out in the house. She basically just used us as her boarding house. AFS was no help to us we had liaison that doesn't help and basically we are dealing with a problem that is very frustrating and affecting our lives. I will never do an exchange program again specially with AFS. AFS basically just used us as a driver and a boarding house for the students who are ungrateful and unappreciative. I am not happy with a AFS because they could've told us that we will be driving long driving this students to their orientations and to their field trip's. AFS is disorganized and unsupportive. Before you do an exchange program better do your research first. And truly learn your student that will be living with you before you accept such responsibilities. This is a lesson learned for us. we were hoping for a great experience but we got the worst experience of our lives. This will be our last volunteer hosting a student United States. We will never host again because we are not appreciative by the students or AFS.

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Location:
Posted: February 22, 2016
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1
Age:
50

Comments

It never occurred to me that I should check out reviews for this program, and I regret that now. Our daughter was on a scholarship program with AFS to spend a hear of high school in Germany. There were warning signs from the beginning that we should have noticed. During our interview for a host family placement, we were told that our answers to questions such as "Do you prefer a city or village? What kind of activities do you do as a family? What are you family chores at home? were all wrong and that we should change our answers to better suit the program.

Once our daughter arrived in Germany it became clear there were problems with her host family. She ended up being moved around to 4 different families in total, including one that thought she was the au pair being assigned to them. During this whole time any problems were always blamed on her. I will admit she is not perfect and can be difficult, but not the extend that was portrayed. All of the meetings with her supposed advisor were sessions that they would just complain about her and she would get no say in the matter or chance to explain, contribute or ask any questions. Any family problems were things she had to deal with. Reports were also repeatedly mixed up, they would confuse hers with another child's report, so she had no idea what was going on and where some of these complaints were coming from. It took many phone calls and discussions to get cleared up, but it continued to happen with each family. She would be told she had to sign these "contracts" with wrong information on them and told you have to because you don't want to go home.

One liaison she met with at one the schools she attend told her she was a failure for not making the family work (the family were the mother also told her she was a failure for not having a boyfriend). Of course they denied this, but there were teachers and other students present that heard this. One family was given a list of all the problems AFS though were going on with our daughter before she moved in. Again they denied this, but the host family asked about the items on the list with others whom informed us about it.

In the end there was just no support for our daughter. After she tried to work with her AFS contact to fix things with her first family they basically told her to stop complaining and not say anything with the next 3 families. Anything she did do would be seen as complaining and not trying. Everything was very one sided, always the side against her. She was never allowed to really succeed and flourish on the program because she was always under this cloud of you do or say anything and you will be sent home.

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Location:
Posted: February 5, 2016
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1
By: beaware
Age:
46

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