The AFS-USA/service learning link
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- Student service; study abroad
This work examines how the incorporation of Service-Levarious elements of the program including participant preparation, program quality and promotion. An ever increasing number of S-L programs at all levels of education, both privately and federally funded, is a reflection of the shifting role and forms of education today. As Howard Berry of the International Partnership for Service-Learning states, "The issue behind the growth of S-L is the concern around the world regarding the purpose of education. Is it to transmit knowledge or should education play an integral role in shaping society" (Barry 1999). The author poses the question whether AFS-USA can truly become a leader in intercultural education without integrating S-L into some aspects of its programs. Using a qualitative approach, data was gathered from written works related to S-L and intercultural education, and internal AFS-USA documents, as well as personal interviews with professionals in the fields of intercultural education and S-L. Weber identifies the major impediments to integrating elements of S-L into AFS-USA programming as the lack of human and financial resources needed to implement such a program, and a lack of institutional awareness of the growing importance of S-L in education today. She asserts that if S-L were integrated into any of several aspects of the program, the benefits would be numerous. For example, incorporating S-L into the pre-departure orientation or in-country phase of outbound AFS programs would result in an increased profile of AFS in the home or host community, in the process strengthening relationships among school personnel, AFS volunteers, community members and participants. In addition to making the program more attractive to potential applicants and their parents who traditionally fund the experience, the AFS experience would be more enriching to the participant in a personal, academic and perhaps even professional sense. She concludes that through the marriage of service and international education, AFS-USA has the potential to provide opportunities for people to gain the knowledge, skills and experience to make better choices, not just for themselves, but that are respectful of their neighbors as well, wherever and whomever they may be.