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New Partnership Between TC and the American Field Service

The American Field Service (AFS) has signed an agreement to work with Teachers College and Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) to provide new research opportunities for graduate students.

The AFS was founded by a group of young Americans who were volunteer ambulance drivers during World War I. AFS members also served as ambulance drivers in World War II. After the Second World War, the organization got a new focus. In 1947, it started a high-school student exchange program. Today, nearly 10,000 high-school students and teachers participate in AFS exchange programs every year.

After decades of working with high-school students, the AFS has decided to work with TC and SIPA."We're not sure where this wonderful union is going to take us," said Richard Spencer, president of AFS. "But we know it will take us somewhere wonderful." The union will be a marvelous mixture of what the three organizations do, he said.

Wayne Edward, chairman of the Board of Trustees of AFS Intercultural Program, said: "One of the reason I stayed involved with AFS for over 20 years is that I always believed that AFS had a contribution to make in the teaching and learning field." One way the colleges and their graduate students could help AFS is to analyze the impact the exchange programs have on high-school students and the families that host them, he said.

Clifford Hill, chairman of the Department of International and Transcultural Studies at TC, is excited about the agreement. The typical vita of a student applying to his department includes AFS experience, Hill said.

One possible benefit of the new agreement could be a joint fundraising drive to raise money for fellowships to support former AFS students who study at TC or SIPA, he said.

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