Photo Credit, Andrey Kim The Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX) is celebrating its 20th year anniversary in 2013. Olga Pak, Aleksandr’s mother, was one of the very first participants of the program in 1993-1994, which makes Aleksandr the first second-generation FLEX Program participant.
Aleksandr says his mother's positive exchange experience inspired him to pursue a FLEX scholarship.
"My mother was telling me stories about her exchange year since I was 11 years old," says Aleksandr. "She encouraged me to come to the United States. Every time when she told me about some activity she did, I imagined myself doing it and I wanted to experience it too."
Olga and Aleksandr, from Kyrgyzstan, are two of the more than 21,600 participants who have come to the United States via the FLEX Program. Aleksandr is currently spending his academic year in Oregon. Speaking of his host town, Aleksandr said, "I actually imagined a big city like New York with skyscrapers, wide streets, traffic, and shopping malls everywhere. But in reality, my town is just a regular town with 20,000 people. People here are really nice, my family and my school are great. I've met a lot of people and learned a lot about American culture and the way Americans live."
Aleksandr heeded his mother's advice about being outgoing, flexible, and open minded. He has adjusted well to American high school life, playing football, joining the swim team, robotics team, and participating in community service events. "I really like to explore new things and this program is one of the best opportunities to learn something new," says Aleksandr. "America is really different from other countries and just the way Americans live their lives is unique. This was the main reason to apply for the FLEX Program, so I could try to understand American culture and how people live here."