AFS participants need to demonstrate the ability to live and learn effectively in a new cultural environment where they are totally immersed.
There are nine personal qualities that research and experience have shown to be especially valuable in enabling people to meet the challenges of an extended intercultural living experience. These qualities form the AFS international standards for sending students.
AFS participants should be flexible
AFS participants will find that they need to make adjustments in their patterns of behavior to suit the many new situations in which they constantly find themselves. AFS applicants who are incapable of altering their behavioral patterns to accommodate others are likely to have serious difficulties in their host country.
AFS participants should be self-confident and willing to take the initiative
Participants need a positive self-image. They need to have confidence in their own abilities. They cannot be afraid to try something new. They are capable of coping with difficult challenges, they are willing to take risks, and they are not too easily discouraged to try again when things don’t meet their expectations or go wrong.
AFS participants should have the willingness and ability to learn in a variety of educational settings
Students should be able to learn from their daily experiences with host family members, peers, and others in their host community as well as from teachers.
AFS participants should be able to tolerate confusing or ambiguous situations and to ask for and receive assistance from others
Being able to demonstrate initiative in times of need and how to seek help.
AFS participants should be genuinely interested in other people, including those who are culturally or otherwise different from themselves
It is very important for AFS participants to show respect for and interest in the people of the host country. Participants must be able to build relationships characterized by mutual trust and cooperation with a variety of people.
AFS participants should be able to empathize with others.
AFS participants should be open-minded
An open-minded person is not quick to criticize or judge others, recognizing that their basic assumptions and standards may be different from his or her own.
AFS participants should be able to establish positive relationships with many other people and to share their personal feelings and thoughts with a few of them
Be comfortable in the presence of strangers and acquaintances as well as friends and relatives. Having an accepting attitude toward others.
AFS participants should have the ability to see themselves within a larger perspective.
An AFS participant needs to be able to understand ordinary daily problems in context, viewing them with a sense of humor and with a sense of objectivity that makes compromise solutions acceptable.