The 12-week online learning program aims to help young people aged 15-17 from any country “develop their identities as active global citizens, connect with peers around the world, and learn strategies from experts to begin social impact projects in their communities”.

“Young people are very aware of and eager to tackle the challenges in their communities”

“Young people are very aware of and eager to tackle the challenges in their communities,” said AFS Intercultural Programs president and CEO Daniel Obst.

“We strongly believe this AFS program will give them the practical tools and the knowledge they need to make the world a better place.”

Participants will benefit from UPenn Center for Social Impact Strategy’s “expertise and long-standing track record in social innovation”, he continued.

AFS has long contended that study abroad experiences enable young people to become “global citizens”, and points to research indicating young people are “hungry for opportunities to change the world”.

According to an OECD PISA report, 76% of young people think of themselves as citizens of the world, but at the same time they are pessimistic about their ability to make a difference and reluctant to take action or responsibility for tackling community challenges.

The AFS Global You Changemaker is one of a suite of online programs launched by the organisation in 2020, to meet a “growing demand” for intercultural connections and learning while travel and in-person interactions have been restricted.

The program has already been completed by 300 teens from 40+ countries with a 94% overall satisfaction rate. It promises to help participants to “understand fundamentals of global citizenship, social impact, and innovation, and turn their ideas for meaningful social impact into a usable prototype, testing it in the real world”.

The two partners have also worked together on leadership development and strengthening the curriculum of AFS’s study abroad programs.

There are four upcoming program start dates in 2021: March, June, September and November.

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