Talk to us, ask away! Here are small portraits of our team members, so you can get to know us a little.
Bene (USA 2006/07) teamed lots of seminars for AFS Germany, is editor of the association's magazine HORIZONTE and works as a freelance journalist in Berlin. Bene is politically involved with Voices4 Berlin and is currently doing his PhD on queer feminist rap.
"In a global organization like AFS, queer issues need to be considered and included to better reach out to and support queer youth and families. That's why it's so important that QueerExchange creates awareness for queer issues and improves the visibility of queer people in international youth exchange.”
Flo (Kenya 2016/17) has been active at QueerExchange since 2017 and bringing queer topics to AFS preparatory and follow-up seminars ever since. Flo is currently studying biochemistry in Leipzig and coordinates the group together with Bene.
“Especially at the preparatory seminars, it's important that the needs of queer participants are addressed. Do I want to come out? How do I access HRT? Who can I confide in? What's the legal situation in my host country? With QueerExchange, the participants have a contact they can reach out to to get in touch with people who have had the same questions at one point.”
Rico is a real globetrotter. From Saxony he went on his voluntary service to Mexico (2011/12), after which he was a supervisor for a short exchange program to India. Professionally, his path has now taken him via Ireland, Mexico and Berlin to Houston, Texas, USA.
“In many places, people negatively focus on aspects of sexuality. That's why I'm committed to positive education with QueerExchange."
Ole has been involved with QueerExchange since the beginning. Previously he was in the USA with AFS (2003/04) and lived in Sweden during his studies. Within QueerExchange, he supports projects and workshops on a small scale.
"In the work at QueerExchange, it's particularly important to me that both families and students in particular enjoy learning interculturally with an LGBT background being seen as an enrichment rather than a burden."
Judith was in the Dominican Republic in 2008/09 and has been a volunteer at AFS ever since. She works in child and youth social work in southern Germany.
"I think it's important that there's a platform for queer topics in connection with intercultural exchange - that's what QueerExchange is for. Within AFS and beyond, we work to increase visibility, provide support and welcome new perspectives. I'm happy about the many people that we meet while doing that.”
Adrian (USA 06/07, Croatia 09/10) is active in the local Berlin chapter and particularly responsible for events for outgoing students.
"I'm part of QueerExchange because I think it's important that queer topics are also dealt with in the context of exchange and that there are people to contact for them."
Nadja spent her year abroad in the USA in 2009/10 and has been a volunteer at AFS ever since.
“Intercultural exchange offers the unique opportunity to strengthen colorful pluralism, break down prejudices and build bridges. Intercultural exchange can't exclude lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people or rainbow families. QueerExchange acts as an important mouthpiece here, makes diverse sexual and gender identities visible at AFS and is accessible to everyone* at any time.”
Julia (Thailand 1993/94) is a founding member of QueerExchange. She was a guest sister nine times for AFSers from seven countries. From her sending experience, she says:
“Initially, prospective exchange students and their families had concerns about whether a 'non-traditional' queer host family might be right for them. In the meantime, more and more Hopees are also opening up to this diversity during their exchange year and see it as an enrichment and normality.”