Beijing April 11, 2006: An intercultural seminar was held by AFS Intercultural Programs On April 11th at Jianguo Garden Hotel in Beijing, China to welcome AFS President Tachi Cazal’s visit. More than 50 people including professionals and experts in the intercultural realm, AFS returnees and volunteers and expatriates, and teachers and students interested in intercultural learning attended the seminar and participated in the discussions on the educational impact of international exchange on high school students.
Speakers included AFS President Tachi Cazal, an AFS alumnus from Paraguay to the USA; Professor Wayne L. Edwards, former AFS Chairman of the Board of Trustees who is presently the head School of Educational Studies of Massey University in New Zealand; and Mr. Edward W. Smith, the director of Beijing Consulting Group in Beijing and an AFS alumnus from Australia to China. Opening addresses were given by Mr. Cao Wenchun, Deputy Director of Oriental Comprehensive Research Institute on Public Administration of Development of Development Research Center of State Council and Mr. Anthony Tong, an AFS Hong Kong SAR (HKSAR) board member and the former Deputy Secretary of Education of HKSAR. Special guest Ms Chen Xuefeng, UNICEF education officer in Beijing also attended the event. Intercultural competence and international understanding are seen as abilities of growing importance for individuals and organizations in the process of globalization. Empirical research shows that intercultural competence can be better cultivated among children around the ages of 14 to 19. AFS Intercultural Programs, the leader of intercultural learning and exchange in the world, is devoted to creating more such opportunities for children and young adults to increase their abilities of intercultural communication and international understanding so that they might come back to make contributions to the social harmony and development of their own country. AFS has operated programs in China in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, implementing these with China Education Association for International Exchange and others in China for more than twenty years. AFS plans to expand its program offerings and increase participant volume significantly in next three years.
Independent third-party research has proven that as an educational process, AFS intercultural programs offerings help participants open their eyes to the world and cultivate abilities for interactions with different cultures. AFS program participants also develop a realistic knowledge of their host culture, significantly improve their language abilities, and raise their overall intercultural competence particularly in independent problem-solving and general social interaction. Studies have also demonstrated that through intercultural exchange, the cultural and national identities of the participants are in fact strengthened, while at the same time, more realistic, confident and tolerant attitudes towards differences in and outside of the home culture are formed.
AFS Intercultural Programs, as the world’s leading non-profit and volunteer-driven organization in intercultural learning and exchange, dedicates itself to build a more just and peaceful world through intercultural exchanges. Through the years, AFS has developed an efficient and trustable world-wide system combining the professional expertise of staff facilitators and a well-trained volunteer support base to reinforce the intercultural experience and to provide young participants with safe and valuable intercultural involvement opportunities.
Source: News Release by AFS International