AFS in the Field

The Self and the Others
Rites of Passage: Voyage initiatique

You were ever so right about travel changing and enlarging one's personality, framing new perspectives, awakening new insights, creating a broader sense of tolerance and sympathy. The need for the making of a new world is so terribly apparent; a world free from oppressive traditions, prejudices and intolerance.

Anonymous AFS driver, February 13, 1943, AFS Letters.

... initiation is equivalent to a basic change in existential condition; the novice emerges from his ordeal endowed with a totally different being from that which he possessed before his initiation; he has become another.

Mircea Eliade. "Introduction", Rites and Symbols of Initiation. 1958.

...we can still recognize [patterns of iniation], together with other structures of religious experience, in the imaginative and dream life of modern man. But we recognize them too in certain types of real ordeals that he undergoes---in the spiritual crises, the solitude and despair through which every human being must pass in order to attain to a responsible, genuine, and creative life. Even if the initiatory character of these ordeals is not apprehended as such, it remains true nonetheless that man becomes himself only after having solved a series of desperately difficult and even dangerous situations; that is, after having undergone "tortures" and "death," followed by an awakening to another life, qualitatively different because regenerated.

Mircea Eliade. Chapter Six, Rites and Symbols of Initiation. 1958

An American ambulance driver is a fellow who comes to France to save Humanity. But by the time he has been on the western front for a couple of weeks, his efforts in this pursuit have been concentrated on one integral portion of the whole in the animated endeavor to save himself.

Lansing Warren. "The American Ambulance Man". History of the American Field Service in France. 1920