Commitment to AFS recognised

THAT'S DEDICATION: Tui Walsh has received a life membership of AFSNZ.
THAT'S DEDICATION: Tui Walsh has received a life membership of AFSNZ.

AFS is like an extended family to Timaru woman Tui Walsh.

In 1975 her son joined the inter-cultural programme to study at Long Island in the United States. Since then the organisation has been a regular part of her life.

Last week she was named a life member for her many years of dedication to the group.

"I feel most humbled and honoured on being awarded the AFSNZ Life Membership."

Today she is still active in AFS (originally the American Field Service) with no signs of slowing down any time soon.

"I'll keep going so long as they want me," she says.

"AFS is like one big family and I enjoy the students," she says, explaining why she has supported the group for so long.

She says her family, particularly her late husband, had supported her love of the organisation.

"I couldn't have done it without my late husband Pat. He held the reins while I did most of it."

In 1989 she took on the role of assistant support co-ordinator before becoming support co-ordinator from 1990 to 2004.

In 2005 she welcomed a role assisting the intensive two-month programme offered by AFS and continues in the role today.

Walsh has also attended many AFS camps and was orientation leader at the South Canterbury camps until 2007. She has also attended workshops and in 1992 chaperoned students to Hong Kong.

In 1995 she was presented with a service excellence award.

Her work with AFS has helped her establish life-long friendships with people from around the world, one of the many highlights of her job, she says.

Not much has changed with the group since Walsh's involvement began. However, a lack of host families has become a growing problem, she says.

"We're always looking for more host families. We have four students coming in July and only have one family at the moment."

Committee members, particularly younger people, are also needed, she says.

"A lot of us have been [on the committee] for many years now."

AFS provides programmes for two, six and 12 months.

The Timaru Herald