A well-attended EFIL Meeting of AFS Support Staff took place 5-9 December 2016 in Belgrade, Serbia.  It was already the 4th edition of the EFIL-organised Support Staff gathering, which is now a fixed and expected feature on the training calendar every other year. This year’s Meeting enjoyed the presence of as many as 26 participants from 19 AFS Partners – mostly from within the European EFIL membership, but also including staff of AFS organisations in Canada and Hong Kong, as well as some key volunteers dealing with local support. This number and variety of people was very much appreciated by the group and certainly contributed to the rich discussions and sharing of practices.

The agenda elements included some recurring contents (such as Risk Management, AFS Standards and Procedures, sharing best practices, case studies, introduction to AFS international structures, office-to-office communication), but there were also some special hot topics addressed, among them: mental health of participants, sexual orientation in exchange, constructive use of social media in support and the role of support staff in implementing new AFS Participant and Host Family Curricula.

The satisfaction of the participants should definitely be attributed to the excellent team of trainers: Barbara Spirig from AFS Switzerland, Camilla Soulere from AFS Norway and David Blythe from AFS International, assisted by Izabela Jurczik-Arnold from EFIL. An equally important contribution to the group’s happiness came from the event’s hosts, AFS Serbia, who showed us the best of the Serbian hospitality, friendliness and professionalism.

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SSUP16 group photo