Being a brand new addition to the AFS family as a volunteer of the Ahmedabad chapter, I had the pleasure of visiting an emotion-filled farewell party a few days back.
For all those of you, who don’t know what AFS is, AFS (American Field Services), is an intercultural organizing that has the power of changing lives of young people by sending them across borders to various parts of the world to study, learn new cultures and customs, and get a chance to form relationships from people all over the world. I have only vicariously had an AFS experience when my mother travelled to Japan for an ephemeral exchange for just two weeks, but that is a talk for another time.
Getting back to the farewell.
This party was mainly organized to bid farewell to the exchange students that had been residing in Ahmedabad for about 10 months with their respective host families, as time had come for them to travel back to their home countries. These exchange students came from places like Thailand, Japan, Germany and Australia. This party served as a platform for everyone to vocalize their experiences, trepidations, and expectations, with respect to the entire journey of exchange.
Everybody got a change to speak to the audience about AFS and inter-cultural learning. It was a fruitful experience to listen to each speaker since each person was immensely eager to share his/her thoughts and perspectives.
By the time everyone was finished speaking, I already felt so connected with all the people in the room. I had absolutely no trouble fraternizing with the other people because we were all bonded together by the power of philanthropy, no matter what country or continent we belonged to.
Our exchange students also performed dances, musical pieces and Gujarati speeches as an epitome of what they were going to take back home with them. (I felt so proud of Gujarat, for a moment there).
Every host family was also made to share their thoughts and feelings on watching their students depart.
It was beautiful to see everybody open up about their emotions and love for each other.
So far the best party I’ve ever attended.