How beautiful is my school?
-Reza, from Indonesia at Northwest High School in Michigan

How beautiful is my school?

-Reza, from Indonesia at Northwest High School in Michigan

Hot pancakes made by all… FIRST AMERICAN BREAKFAST!!!
-Reza from Indonesia enjoys his first American breakfast with his host family in Michigan

Hot pancakes made by all… FIRST AMERICAN BREAKFAST!!!

-Reza from Indonesia enjoys his first American breakfast with his host family in Michigan

What Would You Tell a Future Exchange Student??

The Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) and Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) programs are distinguished U.S. Department of State youth exchange programs that provide secondary students the opportunity to live and study in the US for one academic year.

World Learning’s FLEX and YES alumni network includes 59 students living in 10 countries around the world. This summer, alumni from 2012-13 and 2013-14 volunteered to share their wisdom with students preparing for their journey to the US! Keep reading to see some of the photos, videos, and stories our Alumni Engagement Leaders shared from their time in the US!

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Zarrina, ’12-‘13 FLEX alumna (Washington, DC), from Tajikistan recently received a FLEX alumni grant in order to start her eco-project “Be Green, Be AMAZing”. The project aims to raise awareness of environmental issues in in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Zarrina,For me, FLEX is about making friends and finding a new home across the Earth. It’s also a huge network of alumni who always will understand you and help.”

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Daryna, ’12-‘13 FLEX alumna (Kalamazoo, MI) from Ukraine, “You will have an amazing experience in the US, so be ready for many adventures! Don’t be shy, communicate to as many new people as possible… get involved in different projects and have some fun! Show your interest in learning American culture and do not forget to teach them about your home country as well, show how friendly you are, keep smiling and be not afraid of asking questions! Remember, that you will never have a chance to live the moment twice, so enjoy it from the very first minute, right at the airport.

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Adina, ’12-‘13 FLEX alumna (Kalamazoo, MI) from Kazakhstan, “It has been 1 year since I came back home. I am studying foreign philology, which includes two foreign languages: English and French. I still remember all the events and emotions that I had before FLEX, like waiting for any information about my future host family to come, becoming more independent, overcoming homesickness, and finally being able to say goodbye to all friends that I had met in the end. I am so happy that you are going to America and I want to tell you that you are so lucky. You should be proud of yourself, since not everybody can pass FLEX/YES, there is high selection process. But now the real challenge begins. You know most of the experience that you are going to get depends on you! You need to make an effort to meet new people, tell them about your country, not to be afraid to ask questions! If I had a second chance to go to the USA, I would definitely do it!”

Do you want to become a part of our FLEX and YES community around the world? Click here to learn more about hosting a student!

What Can Host Families Look Forward to This Year?

The Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) and Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) programs are distinguished U.S. Department of State youth exchange programs that provide secondary students the opportunity to live and study in the US for one academic year.

Our incoming FLEX and YES students coming from 15 countries around the world participated in bi-weekly Social Media Challenges, posting photos and videos related to the following themes: introduce yourself, share your home culture, and prepare for your departure. The students enjoyed learning about different countries, and increased their cultural understanding prior to arrival in the US! Below are some highlights from our “share your home culture” Social Media Challenge:

Alika, 15 years old from Ukraine, is looking forward to teaching her host family and classmates in the US about Ukrainian culture. “One thing I want to teach my host family and my classmates in the US is how to decorate Easter eggs in Ukrainian style with national patterns.”

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Iryna, 16 years old from Ukraine, wants to share her passion for  handmade gifts for her host family and classmates in the US. “I always present such things to my family and friends. It’s my favorite work to do this design things!!”

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Polina, 16 years old from Russia, “I want to teach my host family Russian language (at least its basics). I know that our language can be hard for foreign learners but I want to try. And may be by the end of the year we will be able to have small conversations or sing beautiful Russian famous songs together”.

What other benefits can you expect from hosting one of our students? Click here to learn more about becoming a host family.

Let Your Tastebuds Travel the World!

The Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) and Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) programs are distinguished U.S. Department of State youth exchange programs that provide secondary students the opportunity to live and study in the US for one academic year.

Learn more about different cultures and cuisines around the world by peeking into the kitchens of our FLEX and YES students:

Our incoming FLEX and YES students coming from 15 countries around the world participated in bi-weekly Social Media Challenges, posting photos and videos related to the following themes: introduce yourself, share your home culture, and prepare for your departure. The students enjoyed learning about different countries, and increased their cultural understanding prior to arrival in the US. Below are some of the delicious highlights from our “share your home culture” Social Media Challenge:

Polina, 16 years old from Russia, “This is one of the most famous Russian dishes - blini (or blinchiki). It is a type of pancake and usually people eat them for breakfast. You can eat them with jam, honey, condensed milk, sugar or anything else what comes to your mind.”

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Rutbi, 15 years old from India, “Dal is lentils and baati is a sort of bread made from wheat flour…We eat it by taking out the soft part from inside the bread and by mixing it with ghee, dal and onion. And the remaining hard part can be eaten by filling it up with dal and onion.”

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Cavit, 16 years old from Turkey, “Doner is the most known Turkish food. It is amazingly delicious!! Doner meat, special sauce, yogurt and melted butter. I suggest you to try it.”

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Alika, 15 years old from Ukraine, “The most famous food in our country and a lot of people associate Ukraine with red borshch. I love it!!!”

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Artemiy, 16 years old from Russia, “These are traditionally cooked on Easter. Bliny is a wonderful everyday meal because it’s not so difficult to cook and easy to diversify. A filling for Bliny can be caviar, chocolate, meat, cottage cheese, ham &cheese etc.”

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Would you like to explore unique cuisines, and share your interests with a young leader from another country? Click here to learn more about hosting one of our students!

Want an insider’s look into hosting an international exchange student? This host family shares what hosting an U.S. Department of State student is all about!

Here’s a flashback to Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) 2014! Our FLEX students participated in a group clean up effort at Morningside Shelter in Brattleboro, Vermont during their Re-Entry Workshop.
Way to show your FLEX spirit, rain or shine! Read more about the GYSD event here …

Here’s a flashback to Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) 2014! Our FLEX students participated in a group clean up effort at Morningside Shelter in Brattleboro, Vermont during their Re-Entry Workshop.

Way to show your FLEX spirit, rain or shine! Read more about the GYSD event here …

Congratulations to Zhyldyz Omursakova of Kyrgyzstan, for winning the U.S. Department of State’s FLEX Student of the Month for May 2014!

Zhyldyz spent her FLEX year in Beavercreek, Ohio, where she performed countless community service hours, shared Kyrgyz culture and cuisine, and even performed in a talent show. Way to go, Zhyldyz!

Congratulations to Zhyldyz Omursakova of Kyrgyzstan, for winning the U.S. Department of State’s FLEX Student of the Month for May 2014!

Zhyldyz spent her FLEX year in Beavercreek, Ohio, where she performed countless community service hours, shared Kyrgyz culture and cuisine, and even performed in a talent show. Way to go, Zhyldyz!

Bringing the World Closer, One Student at a Time

Read as Cindy, a host mother in Michigan, reflects on her eye-opening experience hosting Hangoma, a FLEX student from Tajikistan this past year.

Participating in the FLEX program by hosting a foreign exchange student has been a wonderful experience for our entire family.  We have learned so much about other countries and cultures, not only from our student Hangoma—who comes from Tajikistan—but from other students in the program.  We have enjoyed sharing our culture and traditions with our student.

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Hangoma happened to be Muslim, and we are Catholic.  There were certain perceptions we had of Muslims prior to this experience.  My family now has a better understanding of Islam, and we now know the many similarities with Christianity.  We were able to learn from one another and share our religious holiday traditions.  We prepared meals together from our student’s country—such as plov, a traditional rice dish—and exchanged many stories.  

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In my opinion, the FLEX program is a wonderful way to bring the world closer together, one student at a time.  I feel that the program benefits the host family, student and the community.  So many people were impacted by us having Hangoma in our home; extended family, the school community, and friends have all enjoyed meeting and becoming friends with her. Now that she is back home, my entire family misses her terribly! I hope and pray that we see her again someday.

Letters Home: Inspired to Do More

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My Dear Family,

I would like to tell a story about my incredible exchange experience. I remember when I was dreaming about visiting America—that was my first step to make my dreams come true. Of course, my idea of American life was different before I came to the US, even though we covered a lot of things at our Pre-Departure Orientation in Kyrgyzstan …