This story is part of a series of blog entries to mark the 20th anniversary of the Future Leaders Exchange program (FLEX) in Ukraine. FLEX is the U.S. Government’s premier high school exchange program. For more information about U.S. exchanges please click here.
Posted by: Roman Fishchuk, Future Leaders Exchange Program 2003-2004, Penn Manor High School, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
The year I spent in the USA was one of the most important years in my life because it gave me the inspiration for the rest of the years to come. In 2003-2004, I lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania on the Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX).
Upon arriving back home, I became a student of the medical university in my home town. At that time the first modern cinema theater opened in Ivano-Frankivsk. So I decided to help with its promotion. I approached the administration of the theater and asked them to sell cheaper tickets for students. They agreed. That project was a great success for everyone. Students got cheap tickets to watch new movies in a brand new cinema and the theater received a huge promotion. I was happy to feel that I had improved the social life of students a bit.
I also started my scientific career. I became a board member of the student’s scientific society at Ivano-Frankivsk National Medical University. I was involved in the Ear, Nose and Throat Disease Department. I participated in many conferences in Ukraine and abroad. I was a member of the organizing team during local conferences at our university. During my fourth year of medical school I was Medical Science Director of the European Medical Students’ Association (EMSA). At that time I initiated the creation of an EMSA branch in Ivano-Frankivsk. EMSA-Ivano-Frankivsk started with five active students, many ideas and enthusiasm in 2007. In three years, this number increased to 50 active members with many volunteers. The biggest event we organized was the World Health Day in 2010. Our team was the core organizer of a five day event. Only our town received an official Certificate of Participation from the World Health Organization.
Being a member of a European association helped me to find funds to support our initiatives and to improve the life of people in need in Ukraine. Examples of our activities include summer camps for handicapped children from an orphanage, social rehabilitation for the elderly living in geriatric centers, providing institutions in need with the goods. I was also lucky to provide my alma mater with fairly new educational materials and medical equipment.
Now I am in my second year of Internship in Ear, Nose and Throat Diseases. I have just returned from a research fellowship in Belgium, awarded and financed by the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. I am also working in the Public Council at the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and am developing an organization of junior doctors within the Ukrainian Medical Association. I should say that the year I spent in the U.S.A. had a tremendous influence on my life. I was lucky to visit my host family later on, in 2006. I am sure we will meet again since we keep in touch regularly.