From Iceland — Queer Families Encouraged To Participate In Student Exchange Program

Queer Families Encouraged To Participate In Student Exchange Program

Published July 10, 2018

Christine Engel Snitkjær
Photo by
Alísa Kalyanova

In an effort to campaign for a more just world with decreased prejudices, the exchange student organization AFS plans to increase the diversity of the families that host its students.

Gay Iceland reports that no queer family has ever housed AFS exchange students – something that project manager Kristín Björnsdóttir sets out to change.

“AFS worldwide is reaching out to other kinds of families than the traditional,” Björnsdóttir explains. “Mom, dad, two kids family — and part of that is trying to get queer families to host some of the students. We want to break down this image of the ‘normal’ family and increase the diversity in the group that foreign students can choose from.”

AFS in Iceland hosts 35 foreign students each year, between the ages of 15 to 18. Hailing from different parts of the world, these students live with Icelandic families for 3 to 10 months.

Björnsdóttir notes that many of these students come to Iceland because they wish to explore their identities – they think of Iceland as a queer utopia. For students coming from countries where being queer is not as accepted, the opportunity to live with a queer family is a welcomed opportunity.

The search for queer host families is not limited to queer students, however. Björnsdóttir wants to open the doors for all students.

“There are no restrictions,” she emphasizes. “In our eyes queer families are just as normal as the traditional family and we think it would be a good part of broadening horizons for straight kids to live with them.”

The AFS policy entails a goal to expand students’ view of the world through diverse experiences that inspire tolerance and acceptance. Björnsdóttir believes the incorporation of queer families will do exactly that.

Queer families interested in participating as host families for the AFS should contact its office.

AFS á Íslandi
Skipholt 50C

552 5450

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