The New Vocation

After the War, AFS poured its energies, enthusiasm and expertise into developing student exchange. What had begun as the sponsorship of American university graduate students in France and then French students to American universities, now evolved into the bringing of secondary school students from all over the world into American homes, high schools and communities. Then the movement was exported, and American high school students began to spend first a summer, and then a year, abroad. A story in five chapters:

1. Bringing the Field back home,
2. Finding the way,
3. The new Field,
4. Export,
5. The Galatti Years.

 

 

 George Rock. "The First Years of the Teenage Programs (1946-1955)." History of the American Field Service, 1920-1955. New York 1956.

"In February 1946, while AFS was still winding up its wartime activities, Mr. Galatti began to inquire whether its membership wanted AFS to continue as a permanent organization. The French Fellowships would soon be able to function again, but that was a separate establishment. If AFS were to continue, it would need housing for an office and clubrooms, and a program, as reunions, gossip sheets, and reminiscence would never serve as a firm cohesive force. Later in the year, members were asked to contribute toward a clubhouse and an endowment fund. A reunion was planned for September."

 William P. Orrick. New York: The First Thirty Years of the AFS International Scholarships. New York: AFS Archives. 1991.

"If the AFS is to continue to function, it should have a peace time project, and Mr. Galatti stated that it was his feeling that the Exchange of Students under a scholarship system should be the first project of the AFS. These fellowships would not be only between the United States and France, but they would be between all countries. The State Department has approved of this project and if the members of the AFS are in favor of it, it can be started. Mr. Galatti pointed out that this project need be only one of other projects that the AFS might be able to undertake through the post-war years, but it would give a very real reason for peace time activities. He further pointed out that it would keep the AFS in business and that if we were in business, and doing a job, other fields would open, as they did during the war. In 1940, the AFS was operating in France. France fell and most War Relief Agencies helping this country closed their doors. The AFS did not. It raised money for the American Eagle Club of London, which was in no way the work of the AFS, but by doing this job, we stayed in business and were ready to operate when the British asked for our services in the Middle East. If once the doors are closed and the staff disorganized, it is impossible to start up again should an emergency arise. The early days of 1940 proved this. We went into this war with no money in the treasury and no organization and in the beginning the going was very hard. The Exchange of Students would hold us together as an organization."

 Preparation for Tomorrow. A German Boy's Year in America. U.S. State Department Publication, 1951

"THIS IS the story of Ernst Hermann Taucher, a likeable young German who has recently gone back to his own country after spending a year in the United States. During that year he lived with an American farm family, attended the local high school, went to the church of his "foster family," and helped with the farm work as the son of any farmer would. He made many friends in the school and in the community. Most important of all, he learned the American way of life by living it. Ernst is one of 576 German boys and girls in the 15-year to 18-year age group who have had or are now having such an experience."

 Katherine T. Kinkead. Walk Together, Talk Together. The American Field Service Student Exchange Program. New York: Norton. 1962.

"The young man frowned and was silent for a moment. Then inching his chair closer to mine, he continued. "Here, let me see if I can explain to you the way we AFSers feel," he said. 'That whole year overseas I kept thinking, 'My cup runneth over. Nothing in my life can ever be as magical as this year. I've got to take it with me.' Well, I found out soon enough that I couldn't take it with me---only momentarily with other AFSers, perhaps, can you ever evoke that year again. But the heart of it, you do take back with you. Because the year is more than a superb, personal experience. It opens up the whole world for you. Now, because of it, I know that I am a member of the whole huge family of mankind. Now I'm awake not just to the people and things near me and to my own self, but I have a consciousness and interest and love for many people, all of them different, around the world. With this comes responsibilities. But when you know something as the result of a strong experience, you're eager to accept the responsibilities that go with it. Our first responsibility is to see that more and more kids after us get the chance of the A.F.S. experience. Even the little we do in this way brings so much. You start a small local ripple and see it grow before your eyes until it's strong enough to wash up all the way to the Orient or Africa and sometime, maybe even over the Iron Curtain.'"

 Libby Machol. Gianna. Boston: Beacon. 1967

"THIS true, heartwarming, informative story of an Italian teenager's impressions of America will open your eyes to a new perspective on your own society ... and thrill you with the possibilities of the inspired international program on which it is based.

"Each year the American Field Service International Scholarship Program brings 3,000 high school students from over sixty countries to the United States to live as participating members of American families---and arranges a similar experience for about 1,300 United States youngsters.

"Here is the story of 17-year-old Gianna Bosco's year with Dick and Libby Machol and their daughters, Jill and Pat, in Teaneck, New Jersey. Mrs. Machol tells it with eloquent straightforwardness. You become thoroughly engrossed in the narrative . . . in the effervescent charm of Gianna herself ... before you realize how much information you are absorbing."