In the second week of January, a group of AFSers met in Brussels to kick off the 2018 EFIL theme: “Intercultural Learning challenges of the 21st Century”, supported by the annual Work Plan funding from the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe.

The group members came from all over Europe – and Malaysia – with high motivation. During the meeting they discussed how AFS can tackle today’s burning issues like migration, racism, (online) hate speech, etc. with our intercultural knowledge and skills with a focus on the perspectives of young people.

VEM_Group photo

Major insights from the meeting were:

  • responding to political issues is ok for AFS,
  • today’s students have a different perspective on what burning issues are. They are concerned about education regarding real-life problems, their own professional development and social leadership.
  • social media are important means for young people to communicate, engage with others, get informed, and to start action. If we want to engage with young people, we have to use social media. Mobile usage is becoming increasingly important.
  • if we focus stronger on identity, rather than on culture, it will become easier to show the different influences on ourselves and diversity. It will help us to get away from “culture as a national concept”.
  • we have to address “othering” with ICL. It will help to overcome the fear of the unknown and develop a more inclusive way of living together.
  • we want to focus stronger on the underlying power relations of unjust situations. How can we uncover and tackle them to fight for a more just world?


With these insights, the DICE project team (Developing Intercultural Competence through E-learning) will develop an online course on intercultural issues in today’s realities.

It is expected to have a first in-person trial of it for the VSS (Volunteer Summer Summit, July 18) so that participants can have an initial approach to it and be critical in order to make changes or improvements, if necessary, and maximise our impact through it. The first online version of the course is planned to be ready for the T4T (Training for Trainers) by October 2018.


The Expert Meeting in Brussels was a stimulating and intense event, with important outcomes. The participant group pointed out that more opportunities for such intellectual debate, critical reflection and open exchange of views regarding intercultural learning in AFS would be very welcome and needed in the future!


For more information: [email protected]