20 Years of Success: Stories from our FLEX Alumni — “Such international friendships gave all of us an opportunity to review our stereotypes about other nations and cultures”

FLEX LogoThis 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: Alina Nikulina, Future Leaders Exchange Program 2010-2011, Gahanna High School, Gahanna, Ohio

Читати українською

During the year I spent in the U.S. I re-evaluated my values, ​​changed my life views and saw how other people live. I shared traditions and even recipes from my country with my American friends. I spent the 2010-2011 school year on the Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX) in Gahanna, Ohio.

Alina Nikulina, FLEX Alumni, with her American friends
Alina Nikulina, FLEX Alumni, with her American friends

I was always sociable and it helped me in my U.S. school. I talked with my classmates and teachers a lot and got to know a foreign educational system. I should say, it is very different from the one we have in Ukraine. In American schools, for example, we could choose our classes. Of course, there were also some compulsory ones, but in general teachers allowed us to move in the direction we wanted. For example, I was always interested in international business and languages and I succeeded in International Business Class. Of course, I was unable to learn Spanish in just one year in America, but now I continue to study it. I received prizes in different competitions. Now I have a folder full of certificates that will help me in my future career.

Besides studying in America, I had a wonderful opportunity to communicate with people there. Now I have an American family that became as close to me as my own. I have friends not only among Americans but also among people from other countries. Such international friendships gave all of us an opportunity to review our stereotypes about other nations and cultures. In America we all represented our own culture. We did not only learn from Americans, but Americans also learned from us.

I believe that such exchange programs present their participants with great opportunities. They also help us understand each other and give us the possibility to hear one another in the world without aggression and wars.

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