AFS Intercultural Education and Learning Services

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As a leader in intercultural learning, AFS develops and supports educational initiatives that give people a greater understanding of other cultures and their place in the global community. This is made possible by the committed and talented people around the world who make up the AFS Network. 

The AFS Education & Intercultural Learning Services team champions all educational efforts (methodologies, content, assessment and more) working to support and inspire our 60+ member organizations and external stakeholders worldwide.

Additionally, AFS draws on a network of supporters and advisors who are backed by decades of experience and credentials. As some of the leading voices in the field of intercultural learning, these experts bring a wide range of knowledge, as well as a familiarity with research, policy, educational tools and communication techniques. 

On a local level, AFS Volunteers receive extensive training in communications practices and theory, so that they can facilitate intercultural learning experiences for participants and host families, as well as local schools, educators and community organizations.

With support from a wide pool of resources, including a distinguished AFS Educational Advisory Council, an active AFS Network Intercultural Learning Work Group, professional staff and grassroots volunteers, AFS makes regular and significant contributions to intercultural learning and global citizenship education.

AFS's Educational Initiatives

AFS Intercultural Programs engages in a wide variety of content developmenttrainingresource gathering and research. An overview of our work can be found online:



Chief Education Officer

AFS Education & Intercultural Learning Department

Melissa Liles

Melissa Liles

Ms. Liles, who is based at AFS’s international headquarters in New York, oversees the organization’s education efforts worldwide. She directs AFS’s global intercultural learning initiatives and outreach, working with expert academics and practitioners as well as AFS leaders in over 60 countries.

She leads the organization’s efforts to enhance its already well-established educational impact for the approximately 13,000 learners it serves each year and, in 2010, established the AFS Intercultural Link Initiative, including the Learning Program, a comprehensive training scheme designed for 43,000 staff and adult volunteers worldwide.

Ms. Liles has held a variety of positions within AFS since joining the international headquarters in 2004, including that of Acting National Director for AFS India from 2005-06. Before joining AFS, she worked in communications and advertising including youth marketing for Fortune 100 brands (PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble).

Her undergraduate and graduate studies were at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA. In addition to living throughout the southern US, she has spent time in Austria, France, the Netherlands and Tunisia.

About AFS

As a leading voice in the field of intercultural learning, AFS is convening the AFS Symposiums as part of its 100th  anniversary celebration. The AFS Centennial Celebration will take place in Paris because AFS began as the American Field Service volunteer ambulance corps in France during World War I. In 1947, AFS Drivers from WWI and WWII transformed their wartime volunteer humanitarian aid program into a groundbreaking international secondary school student exchange program with a noble vision:  to help build a more peaceful world by promoting understanding among cultures. What began as a good idea in 1947 has evolved into the most essential mandate for living and working together to solve our shared challenges in an increasingly interlinked and interdependent world.

Today, AFS Intercultural Programs is an international non-profit volunteer-driven educational organization that provides intercultural learning opportunities to more than 12,000 participants per year. AFS Programs in 103 countries help students and adults develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world. With offices and partner organizations across five continents, AFS Programs provide real-life intercultural experiential learning through student and cultural international exchanges and volunteerism, supported by workshops and structured reflection. AFS relies on a global network of 43,000 AFS Volunteers.

As a strong advocate of global citizenship education, AFS provides intercultural learning opportunities to young people and adults through well-facilitated international exchanges; promotes civic responsibility through meaningful volunteering, and develops intercultural educational methods that complement those of state education systems.