On the weekend of 2-4 October AFS Hungary held its National Volunteer Meeting and celebrated its 25th anniversary in Budapest. Close to 250 participants celebrated together with international guests from AFS USA, AFS Serbia, AFS Portugal, AFS Germany and AFS Czech Republic. AFS Hungary also prepared a yearbook commemorating its history and achievements.
The programme included:
– Looking back to the start and speeches from the first employees, chairs: it was very interesting to hear how the idea of AFS got to Hungary during the socialist era and thanks to some very dedicated and persistent people the exchange programme started and the organisation was established.
– A round table discussion with AFS “dynasties” where the first returnees stayed as volunteers and later as staff members with the organisation and their parents got also very active with AFS and are still with the organisation as chapter presidents or board members.
– Open discussion about strategy and vision with the board to see what the plan is for the future of AFS Hungary, what are the goals and how will we tackle the still relevant issues of today’s world as tolerance, understanding, equal opportunities for everyone, sharing, education and intercultural sensitivity.
– Presentations of the international participants: Tara Boyce-Hofmann helped us to remember how we became a more structured volunteer based organisation as she introduced to us the chapter model back in 1994. She also talked about AFS USA and we realised that they are in a very different dimension regarding numbers than AFS Hungary. Ivana Gazikalovic-Pavlovic shared some personal memories as an exchange student and the start of AFS Intercultura Serbia and about their astonishing development. Andre Oliveira (who just recently stepped down from the chair position) promoted AFS Portugal as a destination. The volunteers of AFS Germany gave us insight to their programmes and chapter structure. The volunteers of AFS Czech Republic introduced their organisation and shared their volunteer activities and programmes.
– Volunteer recognition and a gala dinner where we awarded the 3 best AFS volunteers, the 3 best chapters, the best trainer, the 3 best fresh (being active for under 1 year) volunteers and the 3 best liaisons, and then celebrated together that AFS Hungary has so many dedicated and motivated volunteers who work well with the professional office team to achieve outstanding results.
It was very motivating to hear and see how far AFS Hungary got during a quarter of a century and what seemed almost impossible became a very true and strong reality. We are proud to be Hungarian AFS’ers and proud to be part of such a great European and International network as EFIL and AFS. Thank you for all your support and cooperation!