In each edition of EFILife, we dedicate some space to partner news, including personnel changes as well as relevant events that have taken place over the past month.

AFS Austria: Follow-up of the EFIL seminar „Embracing Diversity“ in Austria (by Lisa Wagner)


The first weekend of March is famous amongst Austrian volunteers – it is our annual “Megaworkshop“ where different workshops and seminars are offered to volunteers from all age groups and levels of experience. But what does this “Megaworkshop“ have to do with a distant place called Mollina, Spain? Me, Lisa Wagner spent a week in Mollina last September where I attended an EFIL seminar on “Embracing Diversity“. The seminar dealt with subjects such as diversity education, social inclusion and identity. It was a great experience! Back in Austria, I decided that this could not yet be the end and decided to offer a workshop with the seminar content in my home country. This was easier said than done – first, there was the challenge of limiting the 6-day programme to two days. Then, there was the problem of finding enough participants.


After that, I had to find out that the training was set in a castle with very cool ambience (so no jumping or yelling) and fancy old wallpapers not to be touched (a trainer’s nightmare!). When the big day finally arrived, I found out that two days can never be enough – especially if you have a group of 15 participants from ages 18-65, including office staff, chapter presidents and new volunteers. Wonderful discussions about social inclusion and identity took place within the workshop. The depth of discussions forced me to change the flow of the workshop, but in the end it was great to see the engagement of participants (and after heated discussions still leave the room in peace with each other). I would like to thank the great trainers’ team of Mollina for the great time in Spain and their support in preparation for this workshop. Both attending and training this was a true learning experience.

After nearly 10 years as National Director of AFS Vivre Sans Frontière – France, Philippe Peccatier will be leaving the organisation at the end of March 2015. Philippe joined AFS France in a crisis situation and was able to restructure and establish stability and confidence in the team of employees. His management skills have enabled the organisation to continue to grow. Furthermore, he has been one of the major contributors to the success of the Centennial celebrations in Paris and its impact on the network. The Executive Board of Directors will handle the recruitment of a new Director and ensure the period of transition.


Intercultura Italy informs that the Centennial events are in full swing all over the country, where 97 local chapters have scheduled public readings from the book “Where the border stands – From War Ambulances to Intercultural Exchanges” (by Roberto Ruffino, Honorary Chair of EFIL, and Stefania Chinzari), concerts, films on health services during WW1, exhibitions, school competitions. The key celebration will be a national event in Trento on 1-3 May: a large reunion of AFS volunteers from Italy and other countries involved in WW1. The theme of the meeting will be “Learning to live together: humanitarianism, reconciliation and education for plural societies”. Almost 20 high profile speakers have been invited from countries involved in efforts of reconciliation: South Africa, Northern Ireland, the Basque country, Bosnia-Herzegovina, etc.- they will illustrate different experiences in education to peace and co-existence.

The AFS Centennial made the national television in Italy. The History Channel showed a 30 minute documentary film on the origins of the American Field Service, as a part of a series on the outbreak of World War 1. The presentation included original documents on the ambulance service from the AFS Archives and from the movie “Our Friend France” (1916) as well as comments by Professor Francesco Tissoni, the University of Milan, and by Roberto Ruffino, Intercultura. It also showed today’s face of AFS: excerpts from the recent Intercultura General Assembly in Parma. This documentary film was produced by RAI, the national television company, and it will be used later in the year by volunteers for school presentations on WW1 and the origins of AFS. For the same purpose another useful tool is on line, the new website “” that illustrates the history of the American Field Service up to the present time.


AFS Denmark announces the following staff changes: Pernille Elkjær will replace Niels Martiny and handle support as well as school relations and intercultural learning. Pernille has been with the organisation as sending coordinator for the past year, which means she already knows AFS and has extensive knowledge on the programmes.


From AFS Hungary comes the news that Judit Vido has left the organisation to pursue her Erasmus semester in Montpellier, France. She is remaining as a volunteer and trainer for AFS Hungary. Anna Foldhazi has been appointed as new Hosting coordinator. Anna’s first day was 19 January. She has studied sociology and has extensive training experience especially with outdoor trainings and environmental issues.


AFS Croatia informs the network that since 5 January two new sending coordinators have been appointed; Mihaela Antolkovic ([email protected]) and Marta Opacic ([email protected]) who are stepping in for Ema Sare who decided to volunteer for AFS France until 1 October 2015.


AFS Switzerland announced that Markus Schmid has taken up his position as a new member of the Swiss management board and as Deputy Director. As of December 2014, he has started his role as the new Director of Organisational Development & Services. Markus looks back to many years of experience and leadership in international tourism and has recently completed an Executive Master in Business Administration EMBA with a focus on organisational development.

SUI Markus Schmid