The Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) Program is one of the US Department of State’s distinguished youth exchange programs that provides secondary students from Eurasia the opportunity to live and study in the US for one academic year. Below, Yuliya from Ukraine writes about a GLEE activity in her host community which introduced her to different faith traditions in the US, and the value of a diverse community! Yuliya is currently living in Albany, NY with her host family and attends Cohoes High School.
Hey guys! In January, all the Albany FLEX students had a GLEE activity on the topic of diversity and tolerance. I would like to share my impressions from our GLEE activity in my host community. We began our GLEE activity by talking about our experiences in the US. We all shared our impressions of American culture, things we learned, and something that changed in our lives. It was extremely nice to exchange our thoughts, and see that we had experienced many of the same things.
We all felt very pleased after the discussion, and were proud of ourselves and of the other FLEX students for all they had done so far! I was especially proud to be selected as “Student of the Quarter” at my high school, and am happy with the development of my art skills! Other FLEX students talked about earning good grades, sharing their cultures, discovering new talents, joining sports teams and clubs, and doing community service as their proudest achievements.
The second part of our GLEE activity was a meeting and discussion with Children at the Well. Children at the Well is an organization of youth that learn the art of storytelling to deepen their understanding of their own faith tradition and that of others, get to know people of other faiths, and promote peace and understanding among all people. Three members of Children at the Well talked to us about their faiths, and one of the girls—Macaela—is the host sister of a FLEX student! Macaela has been a storyteller for many years, and shared stories about different interesting Jewish traditions and celebrations.
Then we all watched a movie about diversity, and had a discussion on the topic. We shared personal stories, poems, and traditional fables from our home countries, and learned a lot about each other. Finally, we talked about the importance of diversity, religion, and our own personal stories. It was so interesting listening to other people’s stories, and seeing the diversity of our group. Even though we come from different places, we respect each other, and see the value of different religions and perspectives!
The Children at the Well are having a performance this spring and all the students along with our awesome Local Coordinator, Caroline, are planning on going! Thank you for this great opportunity!
Yuliya is one of 28 World Learning FLEX students in the US for the 2013-14 academic year. We are always looking for families that are interested in opening their homes to a future leader. You can learn more about becoming a host family by visiting http://blogs.worldlearning.org/flex/hosting-flex-students/