Curriculum ‘The Volunteers: Americans join World War One, 1914-1919’

Project: Curriculum ‘The Volunteers: Americans join World War One, 1914-1919’

Beneficiary: AFS Intercultural Programs, Inc 

Amount: 30.000 USD

Duration: 2014 - 2016

The Volunteers: Americans Join World War I, 1914-1919 Curriculum was launched on March 2 at an event hosted by the Flanders House in New York City and online at The event featured keynote speaker Sophie De Schaepdrijver, a distinguished Belgian historian, Associate Professor at Pennsylvania State University, and recipient of the Order of the Crown (Belgium). The event also include remarks by Nicolas Polet, Director of Economic, Academic & Public Affairs at the Flanders House, Vincenzo Morlini, President and CEO of AFS Intercultural Programs, Nicole Milano, Head Archivist and Historical Publications Editor at AFS Intercultural Programs, and Margaret Hoover, an author who spoke about the humanitarian efforts of her great-grandfather, former U.S. president Herbert Hoover, who coordinated the Commission for Relief in Belgium during World War I. Attendees included members of the New York City and U.S. World War I Centennial Commissions, the National World War I Museum and Memorial, Primary Source, the American Friends of Blérancourt, the Ambulance 255 Project, AFS Intercultural Programs, and AFS USA.

A century ago, as the First World War devastated Europe, Americans watched in horror at the war's human costs. But they did not just watch- they got involved. Volunteers distributed food, clothing, and medicine to soldiers and civilians in Belgium and France. They drove ambulances, operated field hospitals, and steered relief trucks. Some served under arms as soldiers or pilots in the French and British armies. Prompted by altruism, personal ambition, a search for adventure, or hope for the redemption of a devastated Europe, volunteers engaged with the world before the United States entered the conflict. The choice that tens of thousands of young men and women made transformed the meanings of volunteerism as well as the position of the United States in the world.

The Volunteers: Americans Join World War I, 1914-1919 is a free curriculum aligned with U.S. Common Core and UNESCO Global Learning standards for secondary school classrooms worldwide. The curriculum helps students analyse the history of World War I through the lens of this volunteer service, both before and after the period of American neutrality. It also aims to continue the legacy of volunteerism established during World War I by encouraging students to engage in local, regional, and international service.

Through the website you can learn more about the project, download the lesson plans, learn about the curriculum components, or visit the Teacher Toolkit for additional resources.