More than 10,700 students, young adults and teachers participate in AFS exchange programs every year. Opportunities for language learning, cultural immersion, new friendships and personal growth are the core of the AFS experience
What is Intercultura?
Intercultura AFS-Italy is the Italian associate of AFS. Since 1955, Intercultura AFS-Italy organizes exchanges with more than 65 countries around the world.
There are 5.000 Intercultura volunteers throughout Italy and they are divided into approx. 161 local chapters which are located in nearly every province. Local chapters do many things: promote the AFS programs, select students and hosting families and assist and support them.
Volunteers are coordinated by a team of professionals. Some of them work at regional level, some work in the National office in Colle Val d’Elsa (Siena), some in the Intercultura office in Rome.
What is the Class Exchanges Program?
The Class Exchanges Program is one of the activities of Intercultura AFS-Italy.
Intercultura AFS-Italy runs several Class exchanges with foreign partners every year.
Please keep reading to know more about the main characteristics of this program
By attending school activities and living with a family abroad, both the students and the teachers have the opportunity to live an intercultural experience that enriches and encourages their international understanding and their awareness of sharing common values and make them better world citizens of tomorrow.
2 High Schools. Any matching of an Italian high school with a foreign one is done according to some "homogeneity" standards, where the type of the school, the age of the students and the language of communication is being taken into consideration and, when possible, the requests and preferences presented by the applicants.
The groups that participate in the exchange programs in Italy usually represent one class at a time, or students who come from the same class. Groups can also consist of students from two or more classes; in this case students have a common preparation prior to the arrival in the hosting country.
The exchange is composed by two phases:
students and teachers from the school A travel to the hosting country; they are hosted for two weeks by the families of the school B students; during the exchange period, they attend school and follow the program set by the hosting school.
afterwards (usually after some months) students and teachers of the school B travel to the partner country, where they are hosted by families of the school A students, attending school and following the hosting program.
The role of the school
The two schools involved in the exchange are responsible for the following tasks:
- to take some mutual decisions regarding the details of the exchange as the schedule, duration, number of participants, themes to work on, etc.
- to agree, when possible, upon the themes on which students can be prepared in advance.
- to encourage individual correspondence among the students participating in the exchange
- to set the hosting program, which should include school attendance (minimum of five days) and other activities such as trips in the surrounding areas, cultural visits, official meetings, parties, sports events and possibly some basic introductory language lessons etc.
Our role as Intercultura AFS-Italy
Upon receiving a request from an Italian school to participate in a class exchange, we select a suitable partner among those foreign schools that have contacted us. Once both schools have confirmed their participation to proceed with the class exchange, we provide them all the information and support they may need to organize the exchange.
Once the two schools have set a common program, we keep on providing support and assistance to both of them, until the two phases of the exchange are completed.
We also provide Italian volunteers and teachers with all the necessary materials, such as application forms, guidelines, country information, manuals.
Local chapter’s activities
The Local Chapter volunteers are informed and involved in the class exchange by the National Office. Their main tasks are to contact the teachers and to organize the following appointments:
- 1 meeting, addressed to students, teachers and families, in order to introduce the project and to explain the role of Intercultura AFS-Italy.
- 1 orientation meetings for the students before the departure
- 1 orientation meeting for the hosting families before the arrival of foreign students.
- 1 evaluation meeting for both, students and hosting families, after the exchange.
Moreover, volunteers give the school suggestions on how to organize the hosting program, and, when possible, during the hospitality may involve other foreign exchange students (hosted for other programs in the area) in social events such as parties, meetings, official ceremonies, etc.
These social events may represent an occasion for the class exchange hosted students to confront with other not-Italian students from other countries of the world.
DETAILS about age, number, language, length, hospitality, sending/hosting, expenses and rules
||Between 12 and 18 years. Preferably exchanges between students of the same age.
||About 10-25 students + 2 teachers.
The same number of students is preferable but slight differences are possible.
Any difference has to be discussed and accepted by the partner school.
||A common language of communication is necessary: a foreign language studied on both sides (for example English, French, German, Spanish)
||1-3 weeks. Preferably 14 days. It depends on the legislation in the country or in the school. Too short stays are to be avoided, because they do not permit to get into the family life and to attend school.
||In family, for students and teachers. This is the most important thing for an intercultural experience like this!. The individual matching has to be done adequately in advance using an AFS form with all the data, so that the students can correspond before meeting.
The partner student is usually the same during Hosting and Sending.
Exceptions are possible but they have to be motivated and communicated in advance and agreed on both sides.
The stay of teachers at hotels or other arrangements are possible in case of need and if agreed together.
||Both phases usually occur in Autumn (Sept.- Nov.) or Spring (February 2nd half - Beginning of May) in Europe.
What phase to start with (Sending or Hosting) has to be decided by the schools. Hosting and Sending can occur during the same school year but also in two different years.
The hosting phase has to occur during the school year in order to make it possible school attendance for at least 5 days.
|EXPENSES DURING THE EXCHANGE
||Students and teachers pay for their travel up to destination and for an insurance, which covers diseases, civil liability, liability for third parties damages.
The hosting expenses (visits, trips in the surroundings, tickets etc.) are sustained by the Hosting School (Community, School, families…) on a reciprocity base.
Any other costs (ex. transports home/school…) are communicated, discussed and agreed by the two partner schools, on the same reciprocity base.
A registration fee may be asked from our AFS partner in your country.
No money is due to Intercultura from foreign schools.
||The Italian participants and their families are informed that the following things are definitely forbidden, under penalty of an early return at one's expenses:
- taking drugs
- traveling by oneself inside the hosting country
- driving any kinds of vehicles
- violating the hosting country laws.
||If you need more info about our programme, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org