Our History

1914-1918A. Piatt Andrew leaves for France and joins the American Ambulance’s car service carrying wounded soldiers from train stations to the hospital. He creates the American Ambulance Field Service (AAFS) that sends American volunteers as ambulance drivers to service along the front in France and in the Balkans. By 1918, more than 2500 young men had served as drivers with the organization — which in 1917 dropped ‘Ambulance’ from its name and was henceforth known as the American Field Service (AFS).

1919 – Establishment of scholarships between French and American universities with the AFS funds left over from the war. The AFS Fellowship for French Universities program begins: 222 fellowships were awarded between 1919 and 1952.

1939-1945 – As WWII breaks out Stephen Galatti, former assistant to A. Piatt Andrew, reinstates the Field Service and galvanizes a new generation of drivers who serve in France and Italy, the Middle East, North Africa, India, and Burma.

1947 – The first AFS secondary student exchanges begin. Stephen Galatti and 250 AFS ambulance drivers pledge to sustain the tradition of service by creating the student exchanges to build international understanding.

1950s -1960s – The exchange programs grow rapidly between the U.S. and over 60 countries in all parts of the world.

1970s – 1980s – AFS introduces multinational exchanges between countries other than the U.S. Begin of the teacher exchange programs which include the Soviet Union, Poland, China and Thailand among others. The exchanges expand to Latin America.

1990s – Worldwide AFS national volunteer organizations become responsible for their programs and operations with AFS International providing leadership, coordination, support and quality control. Multinational exchanges increase. AFS launches Community Service Programs for young adults.

Today – The AFS network extends to AFS partner organizations in over 50 countries involving nearly 13’000 students, young adults and teachers each year.

Since 1947, over 500’000 individuals and an equal number of host families in 102 countries have lived an AFS experience. AFS is committed to continuing to be a leader in promoting peace, tolerance, and global responsibility through intercultural learning.