AFS Night: the past and the present

BY YASMIN MOHD SOHAILIN —

In the SHS library, AFS hosted the AFS International Dessert Night, a speaking night where people could hear stories from the people who studied or are studying abroad through AFS program.

Shorewood and the AFS program have always has a close relationship. This year marks the 66th year that the AFS program has been working with Shorewood High School.

“Shorewood [has] been hosting since 1950. This is our 66th year hosting,” said Pablo Muirhead, chairman of AFS adult chapter.

“[Shorewood AFS] is one of the longest lasting American field service clubs and organization in the state of Wisconsin,” said Brian Schulteis, AFS club advisor. “Shorewood students have gone abroad through AFS … Shorewood families have opened their doors to wonderful students … It’s a great tradition.”

According to Muirhead, the AFS program was formed in 1950 due to WWI and WWII.

“[AFS] … evolved around the negative consequences of wars. A group of American ambulance drivers just decided the best way to avoid or to minimize future conflicts was to have … cultural exchanges,” Muirhead said. “In 1950, students going from country to country, but at first it was mostly between countries that were involved directly in WWII but then it expanded to most of the world.”

For many former AFS students, studying abroad has been a life changing experience.

“I was a very average student at Shorewood High School and I lacked a lot of self-confidence. AFS always gave me wings and showed me that I could really accomplish a tremendous amount. I learned a lot about myself,” Muirhead said.

“I think going abroad … you just learn a lot about yourself, you are living with your host family but really you are on your own,” said Kate Tiffin, junior, who traveled to France last year. “You don’t know anyone there and so I think it is a really great time to learn about yourself, especially since you are young.”

The Dessert Night spotlighted current exchange students living in Shorewood now, as well as Tiffin’s trip last year, and Katie Eder’s, sophomore, trip to Colombia through AFS last summer.

“The event’s objective was to share … more intimate stories of the students that have studied abroad and the students that are here from different countries,” Muirhead said. “It was a smaller group than Showcase, so students were able to go more in depth … to their cultural experiences than they could at Showcase. This was a more targeted group, and more intimate setting. The objective was just to draw more attention to their [personal] stories.”

The event’s secondary purpose was to introduce new cuisines and types of food to Shorewood residents and students.

“International Dessert Night is always … fun. The motivation was for the people to explore new recipes, explore cuisines from around the world. [The event] was also to discuss and hear about the culture exchange and the experiences of Shorewood students.

“[Schulteis] just asked the kids who are here now and kids like me …who [have] gone overseas to put together a little presentation about our time either their lives or their countries or our time in countries that we visited and you could bring a dessert for the event too,” Tiffin said.

According to Tiffin, it was a nice event to find out more about AFS and the students’ experiences.

“I think it was a nice place for other kids who wanted to go to know more information and get to see what it’s like. I think it was a good way for kids to get more information about it,” Tiffin said.

“I am in AFS club and AFS students really interest me but I’m not very good with [being] social. So this was a different way of me getting to know them,” said Annika Sorenson, sophomore.

Overall, those who attended agreed that this year’s event was a success.

“The event was a great success this year. It was really fun. You got to see everybody’s kind of personality coming through in the stories that they told. This was such a great group of people … Getting together was just fun. It was just a fun event,” Schulteis said.

“I love the presentations that each students gave. It was hilarious. It was definitely interesting,” Sorenson said.

“Travel is the only thing you spend money on that make you richer and I really believe in that,” Muirhead said. “That is why I’m always thinking about my next cultural appearance and my next experience abroad and how I can share that with my family. Studying abroad will open up doors for [students] without sounding too cheesy. It really does change your life.”

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