From Pennsylvania to L’Eliana

A one year intercultural adventure getting to know cultures, traditions and languages

“One year ago, I had an idea. I had an idea to try something new, to expand my borders, to go out of my comfort zone. Thanks to AFS, my foreign exchange organization, that idea became a reality in L’Eliana, a small town outside of the city of Valencia.”

William Donnellon, a 16 year old student from the United States, was one of the 15 participants from 11 different countries who lived in the Valencian Community during the 2015-2016 school year sponsored by AFS Intercultura.

Will (in the right) together with Arfiyandi (from Indonesia) and Meredith (from the USA) during a Valencia CF match.

AFS, as a leading international nonprofit organization, offers intercultural learning experiences that transform the lives of thousands of students, families, and volunteers all around the world, while providing a fun and unique adventure.

“While it proved to be at times very challenging, every second was worth it thanks to the hospitality of my host family, which consisted of a father, a mother, and three younger brothers. This family, while just a host family, truly felt like a second family for me and made me feel like I was at home.”

Being an AFS host family provides a fun, rewarding and transformative experience for the whole family. AFS host families share their cultures and learn about new cultures, but they also help young people achieve their global and personal goals. AFS provides training and monthly check-ins for the families, thanks to the strong network of volunteers who help arrange programs that provide the tools and skills necessary to get integrated into a different way of life. The hosting program is available for any kind of family: single parents, families with children, same sex couples, families with or without pets, because the most important thing is the motivation and desire to appreciate and learn from the differences.

Next September, 123 young people from 20 different countries will come to Spain to live with a host family and attend a Spanish school while learning more about themselves and enhancing their personal and professional growth. There are already 6 participants who will be living in the Valencian Community, but the family application process is still open, and families still have the opportunity to join this program and have an unforgettable time together with an AFS student.

“There is no place in Spain that I would have rather spent my year abroad. From the food to the soccer teams, I was truly lucky to have lived in such a special place. My favorite dish was far and away the Paella, and my host father’s version was particularly delicious. I also became an avid fan of the local soccer team, Valencia CF, and am planning to watch all the games I can this upcoming season from my house in the United States. I was also very lucky to have the opportunity to learn Valencian, a beautiful language spoken in certain parts of the Valencian Community.”

The experiences provided by AFS have a lifelong impact. The opportunities are also available for Spanish participants, between 15 and 18 years old, who want to spend a year abroad. In September, students from all around the world will travel to over 30 countries to participate in an AFS study-abroad program

“This year was the best of my life, and I owe that to AFS, to my host family, and to my natural family for allowing me to embark on this journey. In one year I learned more than I thought possible, about languages and culture, but also about life itself. I feel very grateful for this experience, and will never forget all that I have learned.”

Nowadays, our living and working environment is affected by globalization and internationalization. Due to this, the ability to effectively communicate and deal with others in intercultural settings has become a necessity.




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