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: Artem Sokolskyi, Future Leaders Exchange Program 2004-2005, Timberland High School, O’Fallon, Missouri
In 2004-2005, I participated in the Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX) in O’Fallon, Missouri. There I volunteered at a local YMCA and saw how I could volunteer for my home community.
In the USA, I noticed that the YMCA center organized many clothing and toy drives for overseas children and soldiers. I found out more about these activities from my Volunteer Coordinator. Thus, in 2006, my friends and I founded an NGO called the European Students’ Forum in Kharkiv. Our second biggest project was an annual clothes and toy summer drive for orphans, during which we collected a total of a truck full of donations, including two children’s beds, for five local orphanages. I was really satisfied with the results.
Also, in O’Fallon, Missouri, I went to Timberland High School. It was very different than what I was used to in Ukraine. In America, I could choose classes I wanted to take. I chose Journalism which allowed me to win a Missouri State Supreme Photojournalism Award – the first one in the history of Timberland High School. Later, in 2009, I took part in the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Program and became an intern with a Member of Parliament and a Senator in Canada. I volunteered to be the editor-in-chief of the program newsletter and created three issues, one of which featured a completely new design, for which I used the knowledge of journalism gained in the U.S. This design became the standard for all issues of the program newsletters ever since.