The Volunteer Engagement System (VES) is one of our network strategy projects. Based on the “animatori” model of AFS Intercultura in Italy, the VES helps volunteer managers in the field and offices successfully coordinate volunteer development.

With the COVID-19 outbreak, the timing of many projects has been effected. The full implementation of the VES had to be put on hold. However, project partners are still making their best effort to move ahead with an elevated approach to volunteer engagement. Let’s take a closer look at how 3 of our partners in the Americas are conquering challenges and refocusing their efforts.


AFS Costa Rica has assigned an area coordinator to each of their local chapters. Starting this month, they are launching a 1.5 months training for Local Chapters and Area Coordinators.

Intercultural Learning and Education is becoming increasingly more relevant by the day. Volunteers of AFS Costa Rica are facilitating ICL trainings online. They designed separate tracks for new and experienced volunteers. To ensure a deep learning experience, each cohort lasts for 1 month.

They also designed a free training and entertainment space. On the site, they offer webinars, share videos, and virtual games. It is also a space for reflection on the AFS mission. Connecting through these activities brings the AFS community closer together.


AFS Chile has put a lot of effort into how they follow up on leads during COVID-19. They designed a referral section on their webpage to make leads management easier. This way, they can quickly react to any interest in the work of AFS and contact potential program beneficiaries.

AFS Chile is also holding webinars for volunteers on a variety of topics. They have already discussed what kind of future they want to create together for AFS CHI, as well as school relations. They also touched upon the topic of educational, parenting, and neuroeducational issues. Another webinar is coming soon on how to cope with stress and anxiety during the pandemic.


We have repeatedly reported on how AFS Colombia is making its best efforts in the field of volunteer engagement these days. They have launched webinar series, regular blog posts, and games for their volunteers. In the past weeks, they have been holding virtual live meetings. During these meetings, they did some cooking, singing, and DIY together. They are currently working on an initiative to launch and ICL library on their website, bringing together the input of their volunteers.

It is exciting to see how our Volunteer Engagement System partners are conquering the hardships of COVID-19. The times are hard, but with dedication and creativity, we can immerge as a better AFS.