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What is FLEX, or How a Senior High School Student can get in the USA?

We have an obligation and a responsibility to be investing in our students and our schools. We must make sure that people who have the grades, the desire and the will, but not the money, can still get the best education possible.

Barack Obama

It’s not the secret that the best language learning place is in the language environment. In our time, to get in the carrier country is no longer a great work.

Want to travel and earn money? Use Work and Travel. Love children and would not mind to learn some language? It is Au Pair. Cannot wait to help the society and to restore an old castle? Volunteer camps are for you. Opportunities are for every taste and color. Select what do you need and want. There is only one small “but”: participating members must be over 18 years old. So what about the average ordinary high school students whose parents cannot afford to pay huge money for summer schools in England, Canada or Malta? The answer is: to fight for place in the FLEX program!

FLEX, or “Future Leaders Exchange” is a state non-profit high school exchange program. It was founded in 1992 by Senator Bill Bradley, the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party in 2000. For 20 years of its existence more than 23,000 students from the former Soviet Union were able to see America without bankrupting their parents. Each year, about 1,300 students are flying to the U.S. for a year to live with host families, attend the world-renowned American High School and fight stereotypes. The crucial purpose of the program is “to reach an understanding between the two great powers, which had long been in the Cold War, protected from each other by the “Iron Curtain”. That’s why the U.S. government has decided to use talented and ambitious young people as ambassadors of goodwill. Flexes have 4 main objectives:

– Cultural exchange;

– Study of a free civil society;

– The formation of an active life position; and

– The introduction of innovations in the home country.

High school students have dignity to represent their country, to acquaint Americans with their native culture and at the same time scrupulously learn the American way of life, trying to understand their value. Also, adolescents should engage in volunteer activities and to learn all the pleasures of the free society. During the activity a whole new perspective on the world and things around is formed for students, a symbiosis of Russian and American perceptions. And finally, the ultimate goal of students is in improving their country on their return, using a new experience and their own creativity.

In the name of high-end U.S. government does not regret the money. Each year in America, about 1,100 students come by FLEX. And each of them receives a grant of $15,000. Apart from the visa fees, visas, travel costs, accommodation in the family and placement in a school, the grant covers two types of scholarships:

1) $300 is issued once for the costs associated with the school, or to buy clothes, and

2) $125 is issued monthly on personal expenses.

In fact, the only thing the family of finalists spent is a warrant to go abroad, foreign passports and travel to the place of a parent meeting and back. It should be noted that the grant does not cover international telephone calls, additional costs in excess of the monthly stipend, paid excess baggage etc. Participants in the program may be 15-17 years old students from the following countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Marks of candidates have to be good or excellent. Language skills are from Pre-Intermediate and above. And most importantly is a burning desire to see the world!

So passing three rounds of competition senior high school students will receive the ability to become a part of FLEX:

  1. Pre-Test: 16 multiple-choice questions to determine the level of English.
  2. Pre-TOEFL/SLEP and Essay Test: applicants pass the pre-TOEFL or SLEP (both the Test of English) and write three essays, demonstrating their commitment to international exchange.
  3. Application and interview. Those who have successfully passed the first two rounds, should also be interviewed and take part in group activities, which will be held with all finalists. Finalists must also fill in the application form.

Thus, FLEX program seeks to ensure that the participants were able to:

–  To understand American culture in all its diversity;

–  To introduce Americans with the culture of their country;

–  To learn and understand the basics of American civil society;

–  To communicate and to establish a strong relationship with the U.S.;

–  At the end of the program to share with fellows with acquired knowledge and experience.

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