Throughout the 1950's, AFS continued to grow, its coordinating structure, under Galatti, becoming more skilled at its new functions and its field matrixes spreading throughout the world.
Post-WWI idealism leading to the founding of the League of Nations in Geneva had not produced much in the way of results and that of 1946, creating the United Nations in New York risked a similar fate. But amidst this renewal of desire for world peace, AFS was not going to sit idle on the sidelines: it would show the way. ("Acta manent" had been its first motto). And what an international atmosphere! First, the boat crossing of the Atlantic in the company of AFS'ers from many different countries, the group orientations on board, the trip to one's new home town and high school --- where often there was another AFS student from another country; finally, the international experience culminating in the bus trip: a gathering together of different groups of AFS students of all nationalities for the big, ritual travel adventure. In this atmosphere, AFS'ers were ever aware of their role as young diplomats, symbolized during the early years of the high school program, by an end-of-trip visit with the president of the United States.
On July 18, 1963 in Washington, a group of students among which I was one were welcomed to the White House for the last time by President John F. Kennedy, and what he said to us on that day I still remember today: "the effort which has been made to send you to the United States and to send American students throughout the world have not simply been so that you can have yourself an interesting year; they have not been made so that upon your return you will be a friend of the United States, but rather a friend of Peace, a friend of all people, and so that you will fight wherever you are in your country or elsewhere to build a world where comprehension between peoples reigns and where we may have some hope for peace. If we are able to achieve that, our generation will be the most remarkable in the history of the world.
Jean-Louis Brochen, AFS France, October 1967
This was the Stephen Galatti era, an American international experience, the "good old days" of today's AFS, symbolized by names of the ocean liners of the Holland American Line: Arosa Kulm, Arosa Sky, Seven Seas, Grote Baer, Volendamm, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt.
Today I'm beginning this Seven Seas ship log to keep record of all our hopes, joys and sorrows.
July 29. And in the midst of the calling and singing of each group, it's the enthusiasm of first meetings, confusion filled with questions. Our organizational meeting at the "Bavarian Bar" is a last moment of peace before all the harried running and scrambling about ... and dancing.
July 30. A new day! It's amazing how many activities the various AFS leaders are offering. But even as the first issue of our "Billow Blab" makes its appearance, so do the first effects of the fearsome --- and feared --- "Sea Sickness".
July 31. After a quarter of an hour's gymnastics, and the study of old French songs, our "journalists" descend en masse on the Turkish group. Then we attend a conference given by G. Edgell on AFS and an excellent jazz concert by a Dutch band. In the evening, it's the "Thrilling" Costume Ball. The prize goes to the Italians.
August 1. Amidst the general information show organized by all the national groups, the French booth makes a strong impression, despite the absence of any flags. And we feel ourselves to be practically "American souls" in the evening, singing along in the "American Song Hour".
August 2. The morning is taken up by formalities which are complemented by a cultural session informing us about Athens and about American Football. Another sort of culture in the afternoon, with an initiation to the Twist by Judy, after which we elect the dance's incontestable experts.
August 3. The Forums begin. G. Edgell and his team present an overall view of American geography and history in the morning, and in the afternoon, aspects of U.S. politics. Then our group organizes a session of slide-projections on France. A great success, but the lack of preparation is felt keenly.
August 4. The second part of the Forums. G. Edgell continues, through a series of exposés on American education and religion, whereas, otherwise, the sports-minded are initiated to the rules of Base-Ball... In the evening, the "Sea-Sing" for which the French group has been preparing for two days --- efforts rewarded by a fine success.
August 5. Early morning, prayer meetings. Then towards 11 o'clock, G. Edgell speaks very tactfully about racial segregation in the U.S. Beginning early in the afternoon, all the girls start to "pretty themselves up" for the evening: the Captain's Dinner followed by a very brilliant "talent show", highlighted particularly by the Pakistani costume and where Colette Lapeyre distinguishes herself in playing Fauré on the piano.
August 6. The last day on the boat. Arrival in N.Y. is awaited with some anxiety and impatience; now is the time to wash, iron, pack up and go off autograph hunting. In the afternoon, last meeting of the French group, at the end of which we elect our year's president. Last evening much appreciated thanks to the Negro Spirituals presented by the "Glee Club". We must however go to bed early: tomorrow promises to be long and hard.
No way to know what is next, but anyway you know the arrival in New York.
Anonymous, in AFS France, October 1967
By 1962, a page would be turned: the students who had come across the Atlantic by boat would return by airplane. (The last boat crossing took place in 1967).