By Annie Yap

With the Covid-19 pandemic ravaging not just the country but also the world, a New Normal had to be adopted in the way we go about with our lives.  It is no different for AFS.  Since hosting programs came to a halt and sending programs were to selected countries only, AFS MAS had to attempt other forms of marketing and promotions of the sending programs.  Our annual physical roadshows needed to be done in creative ways as visits to schools and State Education Departments were strongly discouraged and even disallowed in some cases.  Thus, in one of the brainstorming sessions, Engage to Exchange (better known as E2E) was born.

What is E2E?  

It is a webinar run during the entire month of April, to introduce our organization and the type of programs we have to offer.  A typical agenda of the webinar will have returnees on the show to share their experiences and answer questions.  AFS National Office would cover the program criteria and the technicalities.  Each session lasts between 45 and 60 minutes. 

As it was a first for us, the inaugural webinar proved technically challenging to coordinate.  We offered 3 days per week with different time slots.  Taking into account the time and manpower factors, the general rule of thumb was there should be at least 10 registrations for each session before we would conduct it.  The AFS Returnee group volunteered to take ownership and helped in the allocation of convenient time slots to those who signed up.  The YES Program, it being fully sponsored by the US State Department, understandably garnered a larger audience by comparison.  

We ran the final E2E session on 24th April with a surprisingly good attendance of close to 50 student participants.  Led by Kamil, a returnee to France, together with Hannah, a fresh returnee of the Asia Kakehashi to Japan, they shared experiences and showed favourite photographs taken during their exchange.  The participants were very engrossed and excitedly asked questions on how to apply.  Many of them are raring to embark on their AFS journey.