The overarching theme of the EFIL Volunteer Summer Summit 2019 is #AFSEffect: Volunteering for Impact.

As the complexity of our world increases so do the challenges facing us; to ensure our response is powerful and effective we want our efforts to promote intercultural learning opportunities to produce concrete and visible positive change. In 2019 EFIL is working toward increasing the impact of our intercultural learning efforts on society. Through our activities we will be exploring different ways we can work toward our mission and what we can do to multiply the AFS Effect and maximise our impact on society.

As in all AFS activities, the owners, drivers and implementers of these efforts are and need to be volunteers. Volunteers are the backbone of AFS organisations, both those in grassroots roles and those in leadership roles; and though we are all connected in a global network, each volunteer contributes to the organisation’s work in its own way. At this year’s VSS we want to take a deeper look at some of these different paths to impact and provide volunteers with the knowledge, skills and tools to implement real change.

Through a track system we want to give participants the change to go in depth into the topic and explore it from different angles in a coherent way. While the tracks are given below, more information on the tracks and workshops will appear soon, so stay tuned!


Intercultural Facilitators: From Exchanges to Impact

Sometimes transferring our AFS experience to ‘outside’ people is very difficult and some people might get completely bored of your stories. However, sharing your experience is a vital part in how AFS and the AFS effect can live on, from finding new sending students to recruiting host families, our real life experiences are important in the big picture.

This workshop will focus on some techniques often used by salespeople. You might not actually sell something, but many of these techniques are valuable outside of a sales environment. You will learn how to talk about your experience in an engaging way, making your audience interested in knowing more about AFS and our mission.

Did you ever talk to a possible participant who had doubts applying because the program was too expensive for them? Did you ever think “I would love to go to this training, but it is so far away!”? Did you ever have the feeling, that it was pointless to write an action plan in training because no one will ever check if anything has actually happened? Well, then you know the challenges of in-person education. It is resource intensive and often excludes people, who do not have these resources. Come and learn how to make our mission available independent from space and time! Let’s explore the joys of e-learning!

In-person trainings are great for several reasons: they facilitate peer-to-peer learning, participants can establish real interpersonal connections, they can have great discussions, and much more. But they are time and money intensive, they favor certain learning styles and they can be less sustainable because of their limited duration.
E-learning can supplement these shortcomings. It can be independent from the participants’ mobility, their finances, it can be learner-centered and longer-lasting. E-/blended learning gives us tools to even better empower active citizens to create impact in their everyday environment.
But exactly means e-learning and blended learning? What kind of activities can we use? How can I put my own ideas into effective e-learning?
In this workshop, we will look at the opportunities that e-learning and the combination of e-learning and in-person trainings are giving us. Participants will learn about the methodology of e- and blended learning, get to know different kinds of activities, and most of all develop their own e-tivities. As it is a course on blended learning, the journey will expand the time-frame of the VSS! If you want to increase the reach of your trainings, come and join us on this journey!

Within AFS we love bragging about our numbers of volunteers, participants, projects and often go on brag about our mission. But what do we do with those numbers and do they really represent social impact? What is that really and how can we define it, especially within AFS? What is the difference between impact and social impact? What is it that our programmes actually result in within our communities? What is our current social impact and what are we striving towards? How does it align with our AFS mission? There are a lot of questions to ask – does what I do make any sense? Let’s go on the quest of finding answers together!

In this workshop we’ll first work on exploring what impact is and how can we define it within AFS, and what is social impact in our programmes. We’ll link some theory with our local AFS realities and look for examples that can help us see our strong points, which already exist within the network and maybe those on which we’d like to work on more within our national organizations and which we believe that need more developing.

Is your local chapter, your board or group of volunteers stuck in the sayings “we’ve always done it that way”? If yes, then this workshop is for you! We will look at ways to initate and deal with change by exploring new ways of governing our AFS work.
In this workshop we will look at local chapter development and to see if we together can come up with new ways to organise local chapters. We will turn around the phrase of “we have always done it this way” to find new ways to organise local chapters by looking at some different cultures of governance and how we can fit those models to our local realities. We will use role play to try different organizational structures and see how we can apply them to our own local chapters. Finally, we will look at how new forms of governance would also allow us to switch focus from mainly exchange programmes to also social impact activities.

“I’ve learnt more during my AFS experience than during 12 years of school” – how many AFSers have pronounced these words? Schools and AFS share the common goal of giving young people instruments to learn and grow. Yet often these two actors seem to work on parallel lines, instead of cooperating and reinforcing one another. How can we change this and engage in productive dialogue with schools? How can we take the AFS effect to schools, especially for those students who don’t take part in AFS activities abroad? This workshop offers the possibility to reflect and exchange opinions on the school-AFS relations, while also suggesting a plan for action.

In this workshop we will discuss on the current relation between AFS and schools across Europe. We will examine different strategies to take contact and involve in dialogue and activities with schools. We will also get practical with a short multiplier workshop on stereotypes and intercultural learning designed for schools.

Sometimes in our volunteering life we feel a bit stuck: there are great ideas and we want to inspire our programme participants to do more, but our cat gets sick and there is an exam you didn’t quite study for and activities we can apply within AFS become a bit reperative… and we don’t bring as much as we could to the table. So, sometimes we need to think more of what values and skills can we use to enhance the impact our programmes are making. We, as facilitators of intercultural learning and of social impact through AFS programmes have the freedom to add much more to the work we do with our participants and how to make it sustainable. The question is not always inventing something new: to drive a change sometimes its enough to bring to the surfice what you already have inside of you, and let’s explore that together!

During this workshop we’ll reflect on our own skills and tools we already have in facilitating social impact and share different examples of what is it that we do. Participants will be given an open environment to think of what could we add to our programme activities to make it more enjoyable and productive for all parties included: volunteers and participants! We will think of how can we inspire our participants to become drivers of change and how to work on our misison even after the programme and activities we do with them.

We have access to a lot of information and knowledge as individual AFSers and as an organization with intercultural learning expertise…Have you taken the time before to play around with this knowledge a little?
You know…map it out, organize it a little in your head, unjumble some of it, see what you like, what you don’t, assess it, understand it, analyze, criticize… the whole thing. And while we’re at it, let’s figure out how we can further share this vast knowledge responsibly and with intention. Or at least- start on that path….

What is the narrative we are creating as ‘experts’ in the field of ICL?
This workshop is for the ones who want to spend a little time playfully assessing the ICL toolboxes within our networks. Most times, life is so busy, we don’t take the time to stop and reflect to look at the bigger picture and personally figure out which direction you actually wanted to go- and then zoom back in to what you really find important.
We’ll try and take a closer look at the knowledge and toolboxes we have and attempt to map it out, critically think about what messages we give our volunteers. Think about how we can foster constant growth and check to see the long-term impact of our work.

Because we believe in facilitated reflection for sustainable (intercultural) learning, we have a strong training culture. But today, most of our trainings are based on in-person workshops. At the same time, many organizations are experimenting with webinars, video-conference calls, digital town halls, small- and large-scale online courses. E-/blended learning provides us with tools to make our trainings more learner-driven, more collaboration based, more sustainable and reach broader audiences. But most of our organizations are still in their infancy, when it comes to the strategic use of e- and blended learning. In the workshop, we will investigate into using e- and blended learning for our organizations. And develop strategies for implementing it in our training culture.

How can we use e-/blended learning? What kind of approaches exist? How can those methods support our traditional training strategies? What initiatives are already explored within the network? How can we use online-facilitated methods more effectively and strategically? What are pitfalls? How can we collaborate?
In the course, we will explore the methodology of e- and blended learning and learn what approached exists in the field of intercultural e-learning. In the second half, we will try to develop different measures how supplement our traditional training approach, as well as develop a framework strategy for e- and blended learning within the network.
As it is a workshop on e-/blended learning, it will expand beyond the time and space limits of the workshop. Be prepared to start exploring before we meet in Austria. Also, it is recommended to have some basic ideas on e-learning. The facilitator is happy to provide ressources for people who are interested to learn more.

Across cultures what we can talk about and not talk about is different. Some taboos are timeless and others fade with time. We just have to work at it and think progressively yet still be culturally sensitive. Let’s have a discussion, try to bring down barriers and walk out still hopeful…

I come from Egypt. My culture considers a lot of the knowledge we share with participants at AFS orientations taboo. When it comes to sexual health, we learn so much about ourselves and our bodies very late, if at all.
It’s not the same in other parts of the world. During their program experiences, participants come face to face and interact with these taboos, or rather the absence of taboos, one way or another and this could lead to uncomfortable and, sometimes, complicated situations.
So where does that leave us? Where does intercultural sensitivity training for our volunteers stand in relation to these conversations? Where do we draw the line between ‘necessary for the experience’ and culturally inappropriate? Let’s have these discussions and share our experiences

Empowering Global Active Citizens

“Europe is the birthplace of human rights!” – but what would migrants and refugees from former European colonies, who are dying while trying to reach Europe have to say about this? The current situation Europe is in is linked to European colonial history. But what are colonialism and postcolonialism? How do they still shape our society? And what about the European Enlightenment, that allegedly turned Europe into a haven of human rights? Using interactive methods, digital media (especially Memes!) and group discussions, we will investigate colonialism, racism and identities in the so-called “enlightened” continent: Europe. European colonialism had an immense impact on the whole globe. Colonial repercussions are still part of the modern world we live in today. They influence the relationships between different countries and groups within societies. We will touch upon these and other issues, and figure out what all of this has to do with AFS as an intercultural and international organisation.

What is (European) colonialism? Which impacts did and does it still have? How are colonialism, racism and enlightenment in Europe connected? After an introduction into European colonial history and core concepts of Postcolonial Theory, we will explore the impacts of European colonialism on our societies and our personal lives that prevail until today. Is there a European Identity? And who “belongs” to Europe? This workshop will also help answering these questions. Finally, you will find out how this is relevant for AFS volunteers! Usually, white perspectives dominate public discussions around colonialism, racism and identity in Europe. Perspectives from the so-called global south and of European BIPoC (Black people, Indigenous people and People of Colour) receive less attention. This Workshop centres on these perspectives. Beginners and people who already spent some time on this topic are all welcome – during the workshop it will be ensured that different levels of knowledge are accommodated. There will be an introduction, theoretical input, group discussions, empowerment and personal self-reflection.

Participants of our programs come from different cultures and bring different values to our communities. Their new perspectives often enrich our everyday life and broaden our perspective. But sometimes, we have the feeling that there is some behavior we cannot make sense of. In some cases, this might be because we do not understand the person’s values. In the workshop, we will try to understand what (our) diverse values are, how they enforce our interpretations of reality and how we act accordingly. We will gain further insight on values that might feel strange to us and try to find ways to bridge these differences.

This workshop is for people who want to dig deeper in understanding what culture is. We are we, there is an I in us that is unique. At the same time, we are shaped by the different cultures that surround us. They can influence what we think is right or wrong, shape our understanding of reality and how we act accordingly. When we meet people of other cultures, the differences might irritate us. That might be true for the Chinese exchange student just as much as for the supporter of right-wing parties living next door. In the workshop, we will explore our own values, get to know models to understand better how people can perceive the world differently from ourselves and develop strategies to bridge value differences. As the facilitator believes in the value of blended learning, you will start engaging with the other members of the course some time before the VSS.

What we want? To change the world!
What we need? To be globally aware!
But how? By striping our Indentity!
By understanding the biases of our perceptions, deeply rooted in our Identity, perhaps we will be able to drop the ethno of ethnocentrism or any other -ism that might act as a barrier in our quest.
In this workshop you will be able to contribute to a deeper conceptualization of Identity (If the last setence seemed that the workshop will be boring, It was an biased Interpretation!)

This workshop Intends to equip participants with Important Insights regarding Identity, that will allow us to a conscious behaviour when striving for social Impact.
We will strip the concept of Identity to understand how It contributes to our perspectives of the world and our actions In It.

“We are AFSers, we do not discriminate!” – “AFSers are generally open minded!” – “I am an AFSer, I can’t be racist!”

Have you heard these sentences before? Have thought so yourself? Your trainer definitely has. In this workshop, we will figure out what (everyday) racism is, and how it runs through all our societies. Then we will explore how this affects AFS, and finally what we can do to address racism within as well as outside of our organisation!

During this workshop we will address racism as a power structure that affects all of our lives and the societies in which we live in. Instead of understanding racism as a set of personal attitudes and a mere problem between individuals, we will see how racism runs to all our institutions and the core structures of society. After developing a common understanding of racism, we will also discuss what effects racism has on and within social movements and organisations, including AFS. In the end, we will attempt a forecast on what everyone can do to address racism in their personal life, as well as within the organisations and structures they are actively engaged in.
This workshop provides entry points into addressing racism on a personal and political level, through both discussions and self-reflection exercises. It is open for all and will try to cater for everyone. Nonetheless, the perspectives of participating BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) will be prioritized. Still, due to being open for all, this workshop will not be able to provide a safe space for BIPOC.

In this day and age, on a continent very, very close by…
It is a dark time for the defenders of democratic values. Although it was believed that fascism had been destroyed, the new right has driven the forces of freedom into the defence and pursued them across the continent.
Evading the right-wing parties, groups of activists are establishing new structures and organisations in every remote corner of Europe.
But the new right, obsessed with oppressing freedom in Europe and across the world, have increased their efforts in the far reaches of Europe…

How do we address the rise of the new right? Which means, strategies and tactics are possible, legitimate and effective? And what can AFS(ers) contribute to the struggle for freedom and democracy in Europe?
During this session, you will explore the current international rise of the so-called “new right/nouvelle droite/Neue Rechte”, mainly focussing on Europe. We will try to figure out how to counter these tendencies in our societies and organisations. Finally, we will analyse how the AFS network could be a new hope for the struggle against the right.
This workshop will contain a mix of input, discussion, group-work and action planning.

Do you want to expell some hatred you might have inside of you? Do you want to love people whose values you despise? This workshop is for you!
We will explore our personal boundaries of empathy and reflect about their existence.

WARNING: ideologies will be deeply questioned.

With the national homogenous white political groups rising in Europe, a lot of thought need to be placed in the comprehension of the phenomena. When getting angry at some social movements/leaders/whatever that is promoting political and social pathways we strongly disagree with, a perverse symmetric effect occurs – we hate.
Focusing in sensorial and emotional experiments, personal pathways will be used to understand the personal boundaries of empathy and their role in activism for peace and diversity.

AFS Effect in practice

AFS started as an ambulance service and it eventually evolved into a student exchange network. People from countries around the world took long boat rides to far away families they had never seen. Since then planes became less expensive, the Internet was invented, and many other exchange services entered the market Yet our mission is as relevant as ever and our message on intercultural communication has a huge void to fill. Are we limiting ourselves in what we can do? Come take a science fiction leap into the possibilities of us!

In this workshop we start by looking in, to our identity as an organization: where we came from, who we are, why do we enjoy belonging to AFS and what capabilities we recognize in our organization. From there we will time travel to the future, and, with the boundless limits that a fictional future provides, explore what roles AFS can take in all those possible parallel universes. We will finally return, safe and sound to the present reality, with new lessons that maybe (hopefully!) can be applied in the right now time.

How can we make our work on intercultural competency relevant to others outside our network? Is that kind of engagement necessary? Does the world out there need us and our knowledge? What are our potential benefits?
If you are you already working on a project that answers those questions, or have ideas that still need development, or if you see community that would benefit rom AFS work; thsi workshop is for you.
You’ll have the opportunity to share with others, spark creativity and get inspired to think beyond what you already know.

Whether it’s intercultural learning workshops with disadvantaged children or training bank employees on intercultural sensitivity, there are numerous innovative ideas to branch out from the norm when it comes to mobilizing our resources to create an impact beyond AFS.
In this workshop, we’ll explore the AFS mission and objectives as well as recognize our strengths as an organization. We will discuss how to diffuse the information and knowledge beyond our immediate communities. We will discuss how to diffuse the information and knowledge beyond our immediate communities and how we can tailor our service to different audiences (other than our participants and volunteers) We will explore the potential impact our activities/ actions/ projects could have.
Within each of our networks we can find an abundance of experiences, including inspiring success stories and failures full of learnings. I’ll be sharing some from Egypt myself!

Hopefully, some of you could walk away with a seedling of a project at hand!

Plays are fiction, but theater strives for truth. An actor’s movements and lines are unencumbered of all the noise of life in a quest to get to the essential of our actions, emotions and motivations. Let’s explore how theater can help us learn about ourselves and others.

Drawing from exercises of both classical theater and improv, in this workshop we will try to see how this art form can help us learn about ourselves and how we relate to others, and others cultures.
There’s no need of previous theater experience for this workshop. It’s not so much about acting ability as it is about will to participate and discover learning opportunities that can be applied to various fields, especially, but not limited to, those within the scope of AFS. Being a six hour workshop we will have time to enjoy the theatre exercises as participants and build upon our own experiences to allow for new paths and applications.

Other than for sharing our reunion photos on Instagram, what does AFSeffect stand for? What are the ways of reaching out to more people and spreading our mission? How can we make AFSeffect an action we focus on and not just a hashtag we put among others during our basic programme activities? What is it that you, personally, want to say and do about it? How can we reach beyond our usual audiences and multiply what AFS effect really is about? How does this link to AFS mission and in which type of new activities can we further develop?

During this session we will confirm together what does AFS effect in practice represent to us. More importantly, working in small groups, we will focus on sharing ideas and developing innovative project that are linked to our mission and which should have an impact on a broader audiance – (parts of) our communities.

Activists: Daring to Take a Stand

Being a teenager is tough. Boys are becoming men and girls are becoming women. Correct? Well, that’s the theory most people grew up with – at least until recently. Societies all over the world are changing, gender roles are becoming more fluid and teenagers don’t necessarily have a strict path towards adulthood anymore.
In some places, these changes are stronger than in others; sometimes we have AFS students with very strict ideas of gender coming to our countries, others have a more modern approach or don’t seem to care at all. A clash of cultures or a clash of generations? How do we incorporate supposedly “new“ ideas of gender and sexuality into our AFS work?

“Leave that, it’s a girl’s job“ or “Don’t carry this, one of the boys will do that for you“. Who of you heard such things when growing up? Who of you first heard such statements when going on exchange? And who is now saying those things themselves?

Living in a different country also means being confronted with different ideas of what girls or boys do or shouldn’t do. In most AFS preparations, gender doesn’t play a big role and we often don’t prepare our exchange students to the different reality expecting them when abroad. Host countries usually expect heterosexual boys and girls to come their way and are often overwhelmed when somebody doesn’t fit into this binary concept.
We will discuss some basic concepts of sex/gender and then see how this relates to the AFS context. Participants are welcome to share their experiences; both from their own exchange and their AFS work. With some luck, we will all leave this workshop with some new activities and thoughts for a more gender-sensitive approach in our everyday work with young programme participants.

Boys will be boys!
Man up!
Boys don’t cry!
A real man can do it!
Back then, men were real men!

All of these phrases are indicitive of an idea of what it is to be a man. Does this idea have any effect for AFS as a volunteer organization? Does the idea of masculinity have anything to do with what we do?

In recent years the idea of toxic masculinity has emerged in the discussion of the cultural dimensions of gender. According to this idea, a certain version of masculinity leads to men being less likely to discuss their feelings and openly show empathy and love for one another. It also then includes being “tough” and bottling up their emotions.
This workshop will aim to discuss what is masculinity and the effect of it on our society and our roles within the society. Are masculinity and feminity somehow polar opposites? Are they the same all over?
We will discuss whether an idea of a specific masculinity affects the reality of AFS, seeing as the majority of AFS volunteers tend to be female. Is there something that can be done within AFS to address this reality without compromising who we are can we be more accommodating to men while staying true to our core? And should we?

Over the past years, awareness around the topic of sustainability, pollution, waste disposal, etc. has risen a lot. I mean A LOT – sometimes it feels like your facebook feed is full of images of dead sea birds with stomachs full of plastic, articles about H&Ms new sustainability strategy, and advertisements of upcycled gym bags and menstrual cups.
These images alarm and inspire you to make some changes. Even when it’s not easy. You’re giving up certain things which used to be normal for you and sometimes that’s hard. Suddenly, you might have a lot of explaining to do because of your changes in lifestyle. Or you shy away from certain changes because you know it will be tiring to explain them to your friends and family. And sometimes, you get frustrated. Why do have to make sacrifices when other people don’t? Don’t you have a right to eat bananas and avocados? Don’t you have the right to travel by airplane when you want to visit your friends abroad? Do you have to be the one who fixes the environment?

We know by now that global warming is a huge problem which will keep us busy for generations to come. But how much an individual can change remains open for discussion. Some people have invested a lot of time and energy into creating a sustainable life for themselves. This might include big changes in their everyday behaviour and thinking, even a lot of sacrifice. In this workshop, we will have a look at how far an individual can go and has to go when they want to live a sustainable lifestyle.
But we will also look at the bigger picture: who benefits from new “environmentally responsible“ products? Who makes the big decisions? Who is ultimately responsible for global warming and whose job is it to stop it?

AFS is dedicated to the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targets 4: Quality Education and 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. Let’s explore if and how AFS “walks the talk” and contributes in acheiving these targets. Together, we will uncover the background and the backside of the SDGs 4 and 16 as well as develop tools on how to turn promises into action.

In this workshop, we will look at how we, as volunteers for AFS, can and should contribute to the SDGs. We will first establish a common understanding of the SDGs looking at their development from the MDGs and their relation to human rights. We will critically look at the SDGs and their targets by digging deeper into some realities of the SDGs. Lastly, we will re-write the sub-targets of goals 4 and 16 to fit the AFS context.

“You manage things; you lead people.”
“A leader is a dealer in hope.”
“Don’t follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you.”
“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”

Many wise and even more not so wise things have been said about leadership. Do any of them help us when we are suddenly put into a situation of leadership? Who are the people who usually end up leading a crowd? How did they get there? How does a politician become a politician? Did anybody in kindergarten ever say “Hey, I want to be an armed rebel when I grow up“? Leadership and societal change are linked to one another. Few people know for sure that they will change their country when they start their journey. Let’s look at the how and why.

Leadership is a great new buzzword when talking business, companies, etc. But haven’t leaders always existed? Doesn’t the concept of leadership extent far beyond the business world? By looking at the examples of different political leaders throughout history, we will discuss leadership types and methods. We will analyse what we look for in a leader, what inspires us and which situations in life have us looking for a leader. But more importantly we will look at how one becomes a leader – is it something people are born with like a special talent for playing an instrument? Surely everyone has been in a situation where they had to step up and be the leader – but how did we feel in those moments? Comfortable? Stressed out? Excited?
The workshop is six hours long, so we will have plenty of time to discuss, analyse, do some research and even act out what we learned together. We will have a special look into what kind of leaders have emerged over the past years and what kind of leaders our world still lacks. Maybe in the end, we will realise that some of us have been leaders all along. If not, let’s see how we get there.

The first AFSers were young ambulancemen who saved lives on the battlefield of a global conflict. Now, this level of engagement for peace is hard to reach for a 21st-century AFSer…. or maybe not? in this globally connected, social network-influenced world, activism might be easier and more accessible than you think… This workshop wants to offer a reflection on where AFS comes from and where AFSers can get to in the 21st century. It should be an impulse to use new technologies and the AFS network to multiply and improve the impact of activism. We will first reflect on AFS history since WW1 and the major campaigns it participated in, then we will focus on how to translate the AFS spirit of the first ambulancemen in nowadays society. We will learn how to select a cause to engage in, how to plan and structure activism in everyday life, and how to use technologies and AFS expertise and platform to support activism.

Change doesn’t always happen through revolutions. History has shown that changes in society can come from peaceful protests in the form of minor disobediences towards an injustice imposed by society, rules or law, such as the various womens marches and activities for the right to vote and maybe even the school strikes of Greta Thunberg? Change can be achieved by simply taking a stance and not following the rules. But when can we decide to do that? Is it always justified? If there is an injustice, must we act?

In this workshop we will discuss the concept of civil disobedience. It is an action for impact, but sometimes taking such a stance and following it through with action can put us at risk. Should we always take such a stance even if it is a risk for ourselves? Is it only the people suffering the injustice who should take action? What actions can those not affected take to support a cause? What actions are justifiable?
In this workshop we will attempt to dive together into the questions of when, how, why and whether we should act when rules, however small or large, are unjust in our society.

Leaders: Advocating for a Better World

Thinking about “advocacy” the first thing most people have in mind is a big question mark. The term itself is very abstract and may have some confusing connotations (Like “lobbyism”). First, we will get to know the term, its origin and its context. Second, we will focus on us, as a group and try to link ourselves as #afsadvocates to the topic. Eventually, we will reflect about ourselves as leaders and which role we have – on a national as well as international level and what our motivations are.

In this course we will focus on the more technical part and the various activities EFIL is already doing in the field of advocacy and who are the main stakeholders on a european as well as on a national level. Additionly, the EFIL fellowship program and further ways to engage as a volunteer in the field of advocacy will be highlighted/ a broad overview presented (including follow-up if you want to get into advocacy with EFIL). Secondly, we will focus more on the personal motivations about “why” people engage in advocacy and which impact it has/had on the personal lifes of the #afsadvocates.

EFIL is active on various levels of advocacy as well as providing resources for volunteer development. Strategies are one of the tools used by stakeholders to communicate messages as well as empower people. The step of translating a strategy (language wise as well as to national realities) and creating momentum for an impact is sometimes more difficlut – in this workshop we will reflect about the following questions:
Which strategies are out there? Which one could be helpful for my national organisation? And how can I write one myself to have an impact as a leader?

Using already existing material and linking european and national politics (or policies) to each other may proof rather difficult. There are many stakeholders out there but how to priorities and even more important: how to use a existing strategy to create momentum for a movement?

You have probably all felt the urge before… Someone said something incredibly stupid. In your opinion. No matter what the topic might be, you massively disagree with the other party. These arguments/discussions/debates often don’t go well and for so many different reasons your great ideas are not listened to. In this workshop we will go deeper in effective argumentation and debating, so you will have all the needed tools for your next argument.

This workshop is not about convincing someone else you are right, but this will give you the tools to effectively transfer your ideas and values to an opposing party. Maybe, in the end, you can change someone’s opinion or open up their view on something. The workshop is based on a book about effective argumentation with the same title. It sounds like a mind trick but it definitely is not. You will learn to defend your viewpoint without attacking the other party and engage in a grown up discussion which will benefit both parties.

Have you heard the phrase “Man is born in chains: but everywhere thinks himself free”? Applied to AFS, we will discuss whether AFS can become a stronger and better organisation if we cooperate with other organisation.

In this workshop, we will look at how AFS volunteers can engage in societal change through teaming up with other organisations. First, we will discuss what AFS stands for politically, and whether that can allow us to team up with other organisations to create synergies. We will create a speaker’s corner to give us an impression on the different political views within AFS. Then, we will look at how we can align AFS to other activist organisations: Can AFS join the pride parade? Can AFS link up with religious communities to facilitate dialogue? Can AFS volunteers create reports on social challenges in their local communities?

Seeing that #afseffect has more than 100k posts of Instagram, let’s explore how we can expand the AFSeffect as a recruitment pitch for host families, students, volunteers and schools! Together, we can look into some challenges and opportunities with “selling” the #afseffect and create our own recruitment toolbox.

In this workshop we will look into a common challenge for volunteers at local level, namely how to “sell” the AFS effect. This will be an active workshop where you will make your own recruitment pitches to bring back home. The pitches will focus on different audiences, high school students, families, university students and older. We will reflect upon whether AFS is selling exchanges or if we can “sell” other experiences such as social impact. We will also discuss whether we should sell AFS and the AFS effect and if we are targeting the right audiences.

AFSers are full of ideas, ideals and good will, but how do we harness the power of our organization to actually further our mission? How do we devise a strategy that makes everyone feel included but is at the same focused and noise free? How do we make impactful change? A workshop on change, strategy, communication and motivation, that begins with a lot of questions and ends with a lot of VSSers answers – and probably some more, new, better and improved questions.

How do we as volunteers fit in with something bigger than us without feeling our individuality drawn in the larger scheme of things? How do we make impactful change? How do we measure that impact?
This is a workshop about strategical thinking within AFS and how every volunteer fits in, or not, with that strategy. On how to make everyone be, and feel like, a part of the process without loosing focus. And, ultimately, how we can get to actual, visible change. So if you have ideas or complaints, a vision or doubts about which direction to take, apply for this workshop.

Daily programme

Below you can find the tentative programme of this years Summer Summit. The final version will be included in the info booklet.

Day 1 – Sunday 14th of July

Until 19:00 – Arrivals of participants
19:30 to 20:30 – Dinner
20:30 – Welcome evening

Day 2 – Monday 15th of July

07:30 to 08:45 – Breakfast
09:00 to 10:30 – Official opening
10:30 to 11:00 – Coffee break
11:00 to 12:30 – Thematic opening
12:30 to 13:30 – Lunch
13:30 to 15:30 – Leisure activities
15:30 to 17:00 – Parallel sessions
17:00 to 17:30 – Coffee break
17:30 to 19:00 – Parallel sessions continue
19:00 to 19:30 – Reflection groups
19:30 to 20:30 – Dinner
21:00 – Austrian night

Day 3 – Tuesday 16th of July

07:30 to 08:45 – Breakfast
09:00 to 10:30 – Workshop
10:30 to 11:00 – Coffee break
11:00 to 12:30 – Workshop continues
12:30 to 13:30 – Lunch
13:30 to 15:30 – Leisure activities
15:30 to 17:00 – Workshop
17:00 to 17:30 – Coffee break
17:30 to 19:00 – Workshop continues
19:00 to 19:30 – Reflection groups
19:30 to 20:30 – Dinner
21:00 – International bazaar

Day 4 – Wednesday 17th of July

07:30 to 08:45 – Breakfast
09:00 to 10:30 – Workshop
10:30 to 11:00 – Coffee break
11:00 to 12:30 – Workshop continues
12:30 to 13:00 – Reflection groups
13:00 to 14:00 – Lunch
14:00 to 15:30 – I can teach you
15:30 to 19:00 – Community project
19:30 to 20:30 – Dinner
21:00 – Evening programme

Day 5 – Thursday 18th of July

07:30 to 08:45 – Breakfast
09:00 to 10:30 – Workshop
10:30 to 11:00 – Coffee break
11:00 to 12:30 – Workshop continues
12:30 to 13:30 – Lunch
13:30 to 15:30 – Leisure activities
15:30 to 17:00 – Sharing of outcomes
17:00 to 17:30 – Coffee break
17:30 to 18:30 – Closing plenary
18:30 to 19:30 – Reflection groups
19:30 to 20:30 – Dinner
21:00 – Goodbye party

Day 6 – Sunday 19th of July

Departures of participants
See you next year!🌻


The Volunteer Summer Summit is the yearly flagship event of the European Federation for Intercultural Learning. It brings 200+ volunteers together from all over Europe to engage them in intercultural learning activities to strengthen their volunteering engagement and facilitation skills. 

EFIL is an umbrella organisation of the exchange organisation American Field Service and counts 29 member associations in Europe. EFIL promotes intercultural understanding among countries, organisations and citizens, and actively helps its members to operate within the European environment.



The address of EFIL is Roger Vandendriesschelaan 18, B, 1150 Brussels, Belgium. The preparatory team is spread across the continent.