Locating new communities with the potential to be local chapters is key to grow our organization. More local units means more people get access to intercultural education; as host families, volunteers or relating with exchage students at school or in the community.
However, creating a chapter is a big task, that needs to be carefully managed to assure its success. AFS Argentina & Uruguay has found a creative and strategic way to make the challenge more manageble and mesurable.
Emerging Units in AFS Argentina & Uruguay
Last year, AFS Argentina & Uruguay located 6 communities with potential to become local chapters. Instead of creating the chapters immediatly, they designed a plan to assure a better development of the volunteers and the community.
They choose the communities through internal and external data analysis. Taking in consideration sending, hosting and volunteering leads, as well as demographic characteristics they can decide if the town is a good fit for AFS.
The plan has three focus areas:
- Volunteer Develpment: Finding local volunteers is a priority to create sustainable units in a medium and long term. Field staff should keep the volunteers active with activities and motivating them throughout the challenges of operation.
- Insertion in Educational Communities: Schools and education institutions are an important stakeholder. With them AFS can gain local visibility, find educators, volunteers and host families.
- Active Staff Involvement: The role of staff is key in the early stages, as they guide the unit’s development within the community. When the local chapter is ready to host, volunteers must be fully trained in Hosting and Support tasks and topics.
A key aspect for this initiative is balance. The Volunteer Development staff has been making sure the number of participants is in line with the capacity of the local chapters. The initial results of the project have been great! All the emerging units have active volunteers, and four of them are hosting in the NH19 cycle, as well as actively recruiting sending students.
If you want to know more about this initiative, contact Julia Taleisnik.