To be able to support students and host families on their intercultural learning journeys, AFS volunteers and staff must know the basics of intercultural learning and the educational benefits of the AFS experience. With this in mind, AFS has the Intercultural Link Learning Program – the official network-wide training and assessment program on Intercultural Learning.
The Intercultural Link Learning Program (Learning Program) is intended for volunteers and staff to become more interculturally sensitive and to develop the abilities needed to facilitate intercultural learning in others (students, schools, host families, and people external to AFS). As something used around the AFS world, it also gives a shared vocabulary to volunteers and staff whether they are in China or Ghana, Canada or Germany. In short, using a variety of interactive and reflective methods, the Learning Program helps volunteers and staff develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed when interacting with people from other cultural backgrounds, inside and outside of AFS.
Topics in the Learning Program include: the AFS educational approach, definitions and concepts of culture, the difference between generalizations and stereotypes, intercultural communication, cultural values and dimensions, intercultural conflict styles and management, and cultural adaptation. The Learning Program also introduces useful tools and models to help volunteers and staff suspend judgment in intercultural settings and to identify ways to help others become more intercultural sensitive.