Exchange Students in Vermont from Former USSR

Peace Corps Online: State: Peace Corps Vermont : Message Center for Vermont RPCVs: Exchange Students in Vermont from Former USSR

By Katy Pearce ( - on Monday, March 22, 2004 - 12:35 pm: Edit Post

Dear Vermonters,

I would like to present the FLEX-PAX Program to you. FLEX, the Future Leaders Exchange Program, is a U.S.-funded program which brings students from the Former Soviet Union to the U.S. for one academic year to foster cultural exchange and expose young leaders to the democratic principles which America is build in hopes of bringing positive change to their home countries.

PAX is one of 14 organizations which places these students in American communities. PAX is CSIET listed and has worked with exchange students in all 50 states for 10 years.

As the FLEX-PAX cluster director for Vermont, I'd like to share with you some of the reasons why I think that that the FLEX-PAX Program would be a great benefit to any Vermont community.

* The FLEX Program is extremely competitive: 50,000 students apply for 1300 spots each year.

* FLEX is a full scholarship exchange program, paid for by our American tax dollars for over 10 years. It is a proven strategy to improve the conditions in the Former Soviet Union, with program alumni success stories too numerous to mention.

* FLEX students must pass the pre-TOEFL or SLEP in the top percentage of their applicant group. Their English skills are excellent.

* FLEX students are selected based on, in addition to their English language skills, leadership experience, community service participation, academic performance, openness, social skills and willingness to contribute to society. Applicants go through four stages of applications, take-home and in-class essays, interviews in English and in their native language, as well as group activities to observe their social skills. Intensive orientations and training take place months before their arrival in the U.S.

* While in the U.S., FLEX students are required to participate in community service projects, give presentations about their country to school and community groups and to consciously make an effort to share their culture: they are an educational asset to your school!

* FLEX local coordinators regularly check in with the students and host families and step in if they are needed. For example, if a host family situation is not working out, it is the coordinator's responsibility to find a new host family: not the school's (although we always appreciate any assistance!)

* We can all feel good about the program and the support that the students receive after they return to their home countries. FLEX alumni groups are provided with funding for projects, professional development and more. These students build upon what they learn in American high schools for years to come.

* FLEX students currently are thriving in 5 Vermont high schools for the 2003-04 school year: Essex High School, Middlebury Union High School, Proctor High School, Spaulding High School and Enosburg Falls High School.

As a teacher of social studies, you are familiar with the benefits of foreign exchange programs. If you know of any families who may be interested in becoming a host family, I would greatly appreciate you forwarding this e-mail or sending me their contact information. Host families do not receive compensation, but the FLEX students do receive a $125 monthly allowance for personal items, are fully insured, and have access to funds for extras like yearbooks, field trips, etc. Host families may deduct $500 from their taxes, however.

Please distribute this to any interested educators or families. Thank you.

Thank you,
Katy Pearce
FLEX-PAX Vermont Cluster Director

To learn more about the FLEX Program, please visit:

To see what the current FLEX students in Vermont are up to, please visit their weblog:

By Katy Pearce ( - on Saturday, April 17, 2004 - 3:43 pm: Edit Post

Dear VT Families,

In today's world, surrounded by technology, global business and world affairs impacting many aspects of our lives, we can feel disconnected. If you and your family were presented with the opportunity to make a difference in the life of one young person, who in turn can impact an entire nation, would you take the chance?

10 years ago, our American government chose to take a chance on the future of global relations by establishing a program that would bring young people with potential to a world of open doors and new ideas.

The Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX) is a highly competitive exchange program for high school students from the Former Soviet Union. These students experience one academic year in an American community to share cultures and to learn about the democratic principles on which America was built. The hope was and continues to be that these bright and enthusiastic young people will become inspired by American life while learning skills that will help them bring positive change to their developing countries.

The program provides a full scholarship: airfare, training and support is provided for each student in addition to a $125 monthly allowance for personal items. This allows students from all walks of life to apply.

A host family provides a caring home, meals, a bed and a place to study; but most importantly a host family teaches the student about America in a way that no textbook could.

As the Vermont cluster director, I communicate regularly with the students and host families, help navigating through cultural differences as well as ensuring that information is flowing, provided enhancement activities for both the students and the host families, and securing a place for the student in the local high school.

Every year 50,000 students apply for 1300 spots in the FLEX Program. The students that make it through are bright, social, community-minded, speak English well and are open to new experiences.

There are 3 wonderful young women coming to Vermont for the 2004-05 school year:

16-year-old Katya Rykhlyuk from Kazakhstan is a bright girl with an interest in volunteering, drama, and the outdoors (hiking, camping, gardening - you name it, she does it!). She especially loves animals. With a perfect grade point average, Katya is studious and her teachers say that she is well-respected among her peers and adults. Her online profile is:

16-year-old Samira Javadova is from Azerbaijan and loves the arts, especially drawing and dancing (she does ballroom and modern dance and has recently added Azerbaijani national dance classes to her repertoire!) She speaks Russian, Azerbaijani, English, French and German. Samira's goal is to become an economist. Her online profile is:

16-year-old Farangis Kasymova from Tajikistan is an athletic young woman, participating in basketball, Tae Kwon Do, aerobics, and volleyball. She also is involved in drama as president of the school club and does many volunteer hours at different non-profits in her town. Farangis and her friends are very active in the "Young Artists Association of Tajikistan" in which they learn art technique and history. Farangis was elected vice-president of PR this year and she has been very active in promoting the group to her community. Her online profile is:

If you and your family are interested in learning more about FLEX, please e-mail or call me.

Thanks so much,
Katy Pearce
FLEX-PAX Vermont Cluster Director

To learn more about the FLEX Program, please visit:
To see what the current FLEX students in Vermont are up to, please visit their weblog:

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