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This Glossary will always be a work in progress. At this point we have only added half of the terms already listed on this wiki. If you have a term you'd like added, see an obsolete term or an error, please feel free to fix it or write to and we'll take care of it for you.

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  • Affiliation - A volunteer role assignment in Global Link which allows volunteers to gain various levels of access and may require additional volunteer trainings.
  • AFS Network - is the collection of AFS partner countries, organized by AFS International.
  • Anonymous - Within the AFSWiki, an anonymous visitor or anonymous user is a volunteer or staff member who does not have an account, or who has not logged in to their account. This group also includes people unaffiliated with AFS who are reading the contents of AFSWiki.
  • Apostille - An apostille is a certifying stamp often requested by the AFS participant's home school system in order for the student to submit their USA school transcripts for credit / matriculation to the next grade.
  • Application Advisor - Program Operations staff who guide Sending students through the application process.
  • AR - Arabic language study (term used in Sending). Also see Area Representative above.
  • Area - An AFS area is a designated geographic area with boundaries and is comprised of multiple Chapters within those boundaries. It should be noted that the sum of all AFS areas is the 50 United States and the District of Columbia. A state may contain more than one AFS team, and an AFS team may contain more than one state. All geographic areas of the U.S. must be included in an AFS area, and Team.
  • Area Representative - a.k.a. Area Rep or AR. The ‘leader’, so to speak, of any given area within a region. (e.g., Ric Sorenson is the AR of the Pine to Prairie area).
  • Arrival Family - Event families are defined as 1-3 day host families. An Event family hosts student(s) for an AFS event such as an orientation.
  • ATA - This is a Hosting Status meaning Team Assigned or Area Team Assigned - The student has been selected for the assigned team, usually to fulfill a direct placement request for a specific family or a specific school. When a student is in ATA status, only staff and volunteers from the assigned team can see the student's application in Global Link.
  • ATH - This a Hosting Status meaning Area Team Hold. A Team has reserved the student to try and place him/her. The hold will prevent any other team from being able to place the student during that time. The hold will last for 4 days.


  • Bio - A hosted student profile found in Global Link.
  • Bio List - AFS term referring to the weekly mailing of bios sent to volunteers by Hosting Teams.
  • Blog - Abreviation for Web Log. See the official AFS Blog.


  • CAG - Abbreviation for the Compliance Advisory Group
  • CB - is the abbreviation for CBYX, which is the abbreviation for Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange. Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange is a full scholarship program to study abroad in Germany.
  • CBC - Criminal Background Checks
  • CBO - Abbreviation for community-based organization
  • CEAG - Abbreviation for Communications Exchange Advisory Group
  • Chaperone - A Chapperone is a registered volunteer that accompanies participants when not in the care of the natural family or host family. See - Flight Chaperone, End of Stay Chaperone.
  • Cluster - A cluster generally refers to a group of 3 or more Sponsored Program students in a relatively small geographical area. Sponsored Program students are required to participate in a number of "enrichment activities" intended to be educational (and fun) dealing with the general topics of "Volunteerism"; "Cultural Diversity"; or "Government."
  • Cluster Coordinator - A cluster coordinator is a volunteer who plans, arranges, and co-ordinates enrichment activities for a sponsored programs cluster and documents the activity so the sponsor (usually the U.S. government) could if it chose determine that the activities met the program requirements.
  • Contact Log - A record of all communications sent from Global Link housed in the person record. Phone calls are also logged here.
  • Country Codes - The IOC field found throughout Global Links search screens are an adaptation of the International Olympic Committees Country Codes. See the List of IOC Country Codes on Wikipedia. AFS has added additional codes to this field where an official IOC code has not been designated. So these are simply Country Codes, having nothing to do with the International Olympic Committee.
  • CP - Community Placed is a placement status assigned to a Stu who has been claimed by an Team or by a chapter, but has not been placed yet in a Host Family.
If a volunteer team "community places" a student, the student is reserved for the team and can't be placed by other teams without the permission of the team that originally "community placed" the student (except late in the hosting season under specific rules). In exchange for this exclusivity, the team makes a commitment to finding a host family for that specific student.
  • CTN - Coming Together Newsletter, AFS-USA's monthly newsletter for volunteers.


  • D-Day - AFS term for Departure Day, the date the hosted students leave the United States. Students traveling out of the Seattle and Los Angeles gateways have D-day one day prior to students leaving from the Chicago, Houston and New York City gateways.
  • DoS - Department of State Required
  • DRY - From Wikipedia - Don't Repeat Yourself: DRY, also known as Once and Only Once or Single Point of Truth (SPOT) is a process philosophy aimed at reducing duplication.... The philosophy emphasizes that information should not be duplicated, because duplication increases the difficulty of change, may decrease clarity, and leads to opportunities for inconsistency.


  • ECA - The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairsis a bureau of the Department of State that, among other things, regulates the educational exchange industry. The ECA began auditing compliance to regulations within the industry starting in 2005. In 2007, it required AFS to hire an external auditor to demonstrate that we have appropriate documentation on-hand for every hosted student.
  • EOS - End of Stay
  • ER - Early Return
  • Event Family - Event Families An Event Family is a placement of up to one week with a family other than a student’s fully screened School Based host family. This placement type applies to families who host students during an AFS Event such as an Arrival Orientation and families who host a student while the School Based host family is out of town or temporarily not in position to host due to a family event or otherwise.

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  • First Advantage - First Advantage® is a nationwide provider of background checks and employment and volunteer screening. For more information, please visit
  • FPC - This is a Hosting Status meaning Family Placement Confirmed. The host family has been screened and accepted to host, which means we’ve received complete host family paperwork (including signed PAF), and background checks have been finalized. At this point the host family application has been sent to the partner country to share with the hosted student, and host family - student correspondence is approved.
  • FPM - A placement status meaning Field Placement Sent Over. Our office has sent Host Family Papers to the sending country.
  • Fam - The term Fam is an abbreviation for family. Families are typically referred to as such if they are not hosting. Otherwise, the abbreviation is Hfam




  • I-515A - Temporary Admissions by USCIS. A participant who is unable to present the DS-2019 at the port of entry but has a valid J-1 visa and is qualified in all other respect for admission as an exchange visitor, may be issued Form I-515A, Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor. This grants the participant a temporary visa to the U.S. valid for 30 days at which time the student is expected to present a valid DS-2019 to the nearest USCIS office. Instructions on how to complete the form, the next steps to take, and address of the receiving USCIS office are clearly indicated in the form. There is no fee for this process. It is important to comply with the requirements of the Form I-515A. The participant is out of compliance if he/she is unable to prove that the proper paperwork have been submitted to the USCIS past the 30-day deadline. Make sure to keep copies of all the forms being submitted (including the I-94 form and DS-2019)and send via certified mail.
  • IB - International Baccalaureate
  • Inbound - An US exchange program industry term for foreign participants coming to the US. Known in AFS-USA as Hosting
  • IOC - Abbreviation for International Olympic Committees but in the AFS Global Link database simply refers to a Country Code.
  • ITAG - Abbreviation for the IT Advisory Group

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  • Lead/Inquiry - An interested individual who has completed a volunteer interest form on the AFS-USA website
  • Legal Review - The process through which volunteer applicants must clear if they have answered 'yes' to any of the confidential questions in the Volunteer Application
  • Liaison - A volunteer identified as the primary contact for an AFS participant for the duration of their program


  • Mentor Teacher - A volunteer school teacher assigned to a visiting teacher while he or she is here. This person helps the visiting teacher with school duties, hfam relations, etc. The form to designate the mentor teacher is the Participant/Mentor Teacher Assignment, MTAF. This form is not a part of the host family application.
  • Matrix - The matrix is a table that shows how many Stus that AFS-USA accepts to host from each Partner Country each year. We are supposed to meet matrix for every country, meaning: if our matrix for Chile is 30, we are supposed to place 30 Chilean stus in the US.


  • Natfam - Abbreviation for Natural Family.
Note that AFS uses the term "nat" family/father/mother/etc, to refer to the persons responsible for the student. This is not to be confused with the biological term "natural" family/father/mother/etc. For example, if a student is legally adopted, the student's adopted family would be considered as their "nat" family by AFS. Volunteers and staff should be sensitive to the use of this term and whenever possible, use the term "sending family" since some parents who have adopted children find the term "natural" family to be offensive.
  • Natpars - Abbreviation for Natural Parents
  • Natma - Abbreviation for Natural Mother
  • Natpa - Abbreviation for Natural Father
  • Natsib - Abbreviation for Natural Sibling
  • Natsis - Abbreviation for Natural Sister
  • Natbro - Abbreviation for Natural Brother
  • NC - Abbreviation for National Council
  • NH - Abbreviation for Northern Hemisphere. Northern Hemisphere participants arrive in August to attend school starting in the fall.

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  • NVO - New Volunteer Orientation


  • OA Status - the stage at which a volunteer's application has reached in the registration process: preparing, reviewed, returned and accepted
  • OETF - Outreach to Educators Task Force, now called the Outreach to Educators Advisory Group
  • Orientation Advisory Group - No Abbreviation
  • OA - Online Volunteer Application
  • Outbound - A US exchange program industry term for US participants to be hosted outside the US. Known in AFS-USA as Sending


  • PSE - Partner Service Evaluation - AFS term. Annual peer evaluations made by staff in AFS partner countries of other partner countries.
  • PAF - Placement Acceptance Form is the document completed by the high school that the exchange student will be attending, signifying that the student will be allowed to enroll. The completed form must be on file with AFS before the student arrives in this country.
  • PWP - This is a Hosting Status meaning Placed Without Papers. A family is interested in hosting a student, but has not yet been fully screened and accepted to host (i.e. - missing host family paperwork or background checks). At this point families are not allowed to communicate with the selected student.
  • PDO - Pre-Departure Orientation
  • PR - Program Release. When a Stu decides to remove himself or herself from the program at the end of the year, in order to stay longer in the host country. PR, as opposed to ER or RTN, PRES applies if the Stu releases from the program on the final day of the program. PRTN, RTN or ER applies if Stu releases before the planned date of departure. Students who PR, PRES or RTN can legally remain in the US for up to 29 days (the participant should have left the country by the 30th day). Not all partners allow PRs.
  • PRTN - Abbreviation for Personal Early Return. This is when a student leaves the AFS program and returns to the home country prior to the conclusion of the program. PRTNs are initiated by the student, usually for exams or natural family events.
  • PRES - Abbreviation for Program Release at End of Stay. Refers to when a student releases from the AFS program on the date of their End of Stay Orientation event.
  • President - AFS has one President who is also called the Partner Director. At the volunteer level the person(s) who organize the Board of Directors, local Team or Chapter is called the Chair.
  • Participant - Refers to anyone (student, educator or other) who is currently on an AFS program either in the US or abroad. It does not typically refer to a host family, although host families clearly participate in and learn from the AFS experience.
  • Pax - Participant, either hosting or sending student.

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  • RA - This is a Hosting Status meaning Regionally Available. The student is available for any team in the region to request to area team hold, community place, family place or school place.
  • Returnee - An AFS term for a person who has returned home after a program abroad with AFS.
  • RTN - Abbreviation for Retrun. This status applies when a stu decides to release from the program before the end of the program's end date,but stays past the program end date/D-Day.
  • Region - A region is a geographical area that organizes Teams corresponding to the gateway cities used by it's participants. The five regions are Seattle, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, and New York.
  • RTLC - Regional Travel and Logistics Coordinator, staff position in the Travel Department in the New York office.


  • SAG - Abbreviation for the Support Advisory Group
  • SAGe - Abbreviation for the Sending Advisory Group
  • SPAG - Abbreviation for the Sponsored Programs Advisory Group
  • Stu - Abbreviation for student.
  • Screening - Use in AFS for the investigation of host families, participants and volunteers to ensure compliance with AFS requirements and standards.
    • A host family is fully screened and a placement is complete when the online application, in home interview, PAF, references and CBCs are done. (Additional forms are required for Double Placements and Single Person Placements, see Placement Considerations section below) These requirements, along with the host family orientation, must be completed prior to the participant's departure from his/her home country and prior to a participant moving into a home in the case of a family change. (j) Host family application and selection
    • AFS requires full screening for Welcome, Permanent, Emergency and Temporary host families. AFS requires a modified screening for Event families. (j) Host family application and selection
  • SP
  1. Abbreviation for Sponsored Programs
  2. Much less common, but in some contexts it could also mean "School Placed." School Placed is similar to Community Placed except that a specific school has reviewed the student application and told AFS that if a suitable family is identified, the school will accept the student. It is most typically used for private schools that waive tuition or schools with very specific requirements for exchange students, such as a school for the deaf or school for the blind.
  • SIC - Seasonal Interview Coordinator, most often in reference to seasonal staff members who coordinate volunteer interviewers in the NSLI-Y program.
  • SH - Abbreviation for Southern Hemisphere school program. SH participants arrive in January. Use of Southern Hemisphere (SH) and Northern Hemisphere (NH) doesn't seem to make sense when you know that some of our January Arrivals are from Austria and some of our August Arrivals are from Brazil. The terms arose because at one time federal regulations required that all year program students coming to the U.S. have their exchange on the U.S. academic year (August - June). The regulation didn't apply to semester programs, only year programs. An exception in the law allowed students to come on a calendar year (January - December) if the students were from countries in the southern hemisphere who operated their schools on a calendar year (because their seasons are reversed relative to the northern hemisphere). The regulation was later changed to require only that January Arrivals be accepted in writing by the school.
School principals in some districts will not accept SH semester students because (in Indiana at least) state funding is based on enrollment on census day - usually in mid-to-late September. A student who arrives in January and leaves in June is not counted and does not bring state aid to the school. Students who arrive in August - year or semester - bring state aid to the school.
  • Sendee - Refers to a participant currently outside of his/her country of origin. From the perspective of AFS-USA, a sendee is a participant from the USA who is currently abroad. Upon return, a sendee becomes a returnee.
  • Study Abroad Specialist - Customer Experience staff who work with students on their sending application.

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  • TDS - Team Development Specialist, the staff point-of-contact for each Area Team
  • TLC - Abbreviation for Travel and Logistics Coordinator. The Travel & Logistics Coordinator is a member of the Participant Support team as well as the National Travel and Logistics Department with focus of responsibilities changing seasonally according to AFS hosting and sending program cycles. The Coordinator’s broad responsibility is to oversee the travel and logistics coordination of the region as it relates to End of Stay, Departure Day and Arrivals. In addition, the Travel and Logistics Coordinator will manage Program Releases for both hosted students and Americans Abroad for their regions. This position reports to the Regional Support Manager except during heavy hosting seasons (usually in the spring and summer) to the National Travel Manager.




  • Welcome Pack - We send a welcome pack to Host Familys when we place a Stu in their home. Usually we wait until we receive their Hfam papers before we send out the welcome pack. The welcome pack consists of a welcome letter, medical form, Host Family Handbook, and stu ID card.
  • WW - This a hosting status abbreviation for Withdraw Status which means a stu has withdrawn from program before having arrived.
  • Welcome Family - This status is only applicable at the start of the program cycle while the chapter looks for a permanent home for the participant. Welcome Families must complete the full Host Family Application and Criminal Background Checks process for all members of the household 18 years and older prior to the student moving in. Welcome Families are approved for a period up to 12 weeks.




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