Personal experience: how to go to study in the US for exchange.
Unfortunately, there are no free programs in our country. For 20 years, from 1992 to 2014, in Russia, the FLEX (Flex Leaders Exchange) program operated. Its goal was to provide opportunities for students to get acquainted with the culture of the peoples of the United States. FLEX was very popular among schoolchildren and enjoyed authority among teachers.
In 2014, the Representative Office of the Corporation & laquo; American Councils for International Education & raquo; in the Russian Federation decided to stop its activities. The reason for closing the program remained unclear. Pavel Astakhov, authorized by the President of the Russian Federation for the rights of the child in 2014-2015, explained this: “The decision was made because of an incident with one of the Russian participants in the program. A young man born in 1997, who came to Michigan for exchange, was left in the custody of a homosexual couple, who had previously lived under the program, following a decision of the American court. However, in Russia, the teenager had parents “raquo ;. The commissioner ended his speech with a very strange statement: “Whether we will return the child & mdash; it already depends on the position of his Russian parents & raquo ;.
The program provided special requirements to FLEX participants for the entire period of the competition:
1. To study in the 8th, 9th or 10th grades of the Russian school;
2. Be a high school student at the time of the competition. Have good and excellent marks;
3. Learn English;
Schoolchildren also had to provide medical documents confirming that their state of health allows them to participate in the program.
How was the selection for the program?
The competition for FLEX took place in 3 rounds:
1 round & mdash; 15-minute English language test, which includes 10 questions from the vocabulary and 6 questions on the text;
2 round & mdash; a more complex test of English, consisting of listening, reading and writing;
3 round & mdash; an interview with a candidate in English, a psychological game between semi-finalists, two essays and the completion of a questionnaire.
How did the participants live?
Participants lived in proven and trained American families.
How many people left for the program to study?
During the entire existence of the program, a scholarship to study in the United States managed to get 22,000 schoolchildren. Over the last year of the existence of FLEX in Russia, more than 800 people have become finalists.
About education with the student: Anya Yuriev.
I managed to talk with Anya Yurieva, a participant of the FLEX program in 2014-15, and now a Minerva Schools at KGI student in San Francisco. Anya told about how the contest was held for the program, what she did every day in America and what fears she visited far from the family.
Anya, with the help of which exchange program did you go? How did you know about her?
I went on the program FLEX (Future Leaders Exchange). We were told about it in English at school.
For what period did you leave? In which class?
This program is designed for the academic year, so I spent 10 months (from August 2014 to May 2015) in the town of Urabandale. I studied at Urbandale High School in grade 11.
Was this trip free for you or did you have to make any payments?
Fortunately, I did not have to pay for anything. The trip was fully funded by the US Department of State.
And how is the selection for the program? Was it difficult to pass it?
The selection consists of 3 rounds: knowledge of English, 2 essay rounds and a questionnaire. I do not think that there was something difficult in the selection, rather, it was not clear what the selection committee wanted to see, so I decided to just write the truth. Having already arrived in the US, I realized that they are looking for strong guys who will be able to adapt in a foreign environment and show their culture in the best possible light.
Tell me, did you live in a family or on a campus? Is it possible to choose?
I lived in a family. The program does not include campus accommodation, as in most cases there are no campuses in public American schools.
Was it difficult to get on with the host family? Were there any disagreements?
I only had host parents: Joe (57 years old) and Sean (52 years old). In general, we had very good relations, but they lived quite far from the city, so there were conflicts about how I would get to hang out with friends or train on the run. Now we do not communicate.
Probably hard to spend the whole year surrounded by completely unfamiliar people. You missed the house? Was there a desire to quit and leave?
Missed, and how! At school there was not a single Russian soul, but I wanted to talk with someone in my native language, complain about a complicated analysis in chemistry or just joke in Russian. But I did not want to leave, I knew that this is all temporary, and you can always talk to your parents about “Feystaymu & raquo ;.
What subjects did you take in school? Was it difficult to adapt to the new training system and, in principle, switch to learning in a foreign language?
My senior school was pretty big, about 1200 people. I took chemistry, math, essays, American history, economics and architectural design. It was quite difficult to adapt, especially to American history, so much to read.
Did you manage to tighten your tongue during the trip? In what do you see the fundamental difference between your level of language before and after the program?
Of course, I greatly improved English, before the trip I had a language barrier, which very quickly collapsed in the first week in the US. I also learned to understand (and use speech) jargon and write academic work.
Many people very much praise the American education system and criticize ours. What is the fundamental difference between them?
The biggest difference is & mdash; choice! In the American school a wide range of subjects: from woodcarving and fashion to robotics and the theory of knowledge. This choice allows the children to explore different very narrow areas and try themselves in something new every semester. It seems to me that this approach to education motivates children to approach learning more responsibly and consciously.
Yes, I think this makes their choice of vocational education more conscious. How do American schoolchildren treat children with exchange programs?
Honestly, in my school everyone did not care what country Russia is and where it is. Usually the interested guys asked if I like Putin and how much vodka I drink at breakfast. Now I continue to communicate with only a few.
How was your usual day in America? What did you do in your spare time?
I got up at 6 am, quickly gathered, had breakfast and ran to the stop to catch the legendary yellow school bus, which was very slow and dragged to school 45 minutes. The lessons began at 7:55 and lasted until 15:10. Between the pairs was a five-minute change and one thirty-minute to eat lunch. After the lessons, if I did not have training, the same yellow bus took me home. I ate, sat down to do my homework and waited for my parents to come. In general, quite boring and routine.
What did the program give you? Why do you think it’s worth to go on exchange programs at school?
I believe that the most important thing is that I purchased & mdash; the realization that our world is very small and it’s time for us all to stop dividing each other into our own and others’, and to work together on global problems. For exchange programs, you should go to understand the world and yourself.
All photos are taken from Ani’s personal archive.
What programs are available now?
It is very difficult to find current exchange programs. I share with you the most acceptable ones that I managed to find:
The program is very similar to FLEX: the guys live in families for a year and are trained in an American school. There is an opportunity to leave for one semester, starting in September or from January. The deadline for applying for the September program is & mdash; March 31, and on January & mdash; September 30th. Participants do not bear any expenses other than administrative expenses for school meals, medical insurance and visas. The selection takes place on the basis of a contest, in which all schoolchildren of grades 9-11, aged 14-18, are invited to participate.
Program for students of grades 9-10. Students live in American families and study in local schools for one academic year. The selection also takes place on a competitive basis and, among other requirements, good command of spoken and written English is assumed. The deadline for submitting applications is better specified by the phone number indicated on the program website.