Funded through the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and administered by American Councils for International Education, FLEX is a merit-based scholarship program that provides Eurasian students, ages 15—17, an opportunity to spend one academic year living in host families and studying in U.S. high schools. The FLEX program aims to build bridges of friendship and mutual understanding among the U.S. and the countries of the former Soviet Union (Eurasia). This year’s 800 FLEX participants were selected from over 47,000 applicants and come from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine. In the 20 years the FLEX program has been in operation, over 21,000 students have participated—making lasting impressions on their U.S. host families, communities, and schools as well as in their home countries upon their return. FLEX alumni are highly regarded in their home countries as industrious and talented youth who have gone on to pursue prestigious careers, including the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (Georgia), Deputy of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine), and Chief Editor of an English-language news channel (Russia).
At the event, the students listened to remarks made by individuals with a long history of contributions to international education. Dr. Dan E. Davidson, President of American Councils for International Education, congratulated the participants on successfully completing their exchange and highlighted the twenty-year history of the program. “We hope that your year in the United States has awakened in you a sense of responsibility for your community and those around you. You will take home the lessons of community service and the value of civic involvement as well as the leadership skills to solve the problems in your neighborhoods, cities, and regions,” said Dr. Davidson. Steven Culbertson, President and CEO of Youth Service America, highlighted the power of the individual to affect a community by relating how one Russian student was the impetus for expanding the YSA’s National Youth Service Day into Global Youth Service Day. Ambassador Adam Ereli, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs, encouraged students to stay involved as alumni and to make a difference in their communities, countries, and world.
Several students’ U.S. host families and friends joined in the reception. “My husband and I have been so fortunate to have hosted some of the most dynamic and brilliant FLEX students in our home over the years,” said Maggie Bartash who has hosted FLEX participants for the past ten years. As the event came to a close, the students departed the reception hall, taking with them inspiration and a bright vision for their future.
To learn more about the FLEX program click here.
To view an article about this year's FLEX students click here.