The Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) Program
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) Program continues to play a critical role in providing youth from the former Soviet Union the opportunity to live and study in the United States. Established by former Senator Bill Bradley as a way to ensure long-lasting peace and understanding between the USA and the newly independent states or Eurasia, FLEX students learn about democracy firsthand through experiencing it as an exchange student. "Indeed," as former Senator Bradley stated, "...what better way to teach these habits firsthand than to bring tens of thousands of young people from the NIS to America where they will learn about the privileges and opportunities that come with living in a democracy with a free-market economy."
FLEX students undergo a rigorous selection process administered by the American Councils and come from a variety of countries including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine. Because all FLEX students are in the United States on a US government-funded scholarship, they come with comprehensive medical insurance and a monthly stipend to cover daily expenses. In addition, FLEX students have access to funds for items such as clothing and school supplies.
Since 1993, 20,000 students from the former Soviet Union have participated in the FLEX program. In addition to forging life-long friendships with Americans, these students return to their home countries as "active agents of change," who will help lead and strengthen their country, transforming it into a democratic and civil society.
The FLEX program includes several unique components geared toward helping a student gain insight into US economic and political life. Volunteer and community service activities, an International Education Week presentation, a host state capital visit, and a subscription to Time Magazine are just a few of the "extras" that FLEX students enjoy during their year in the United States. In addition, students are encouraged to apply for additional workshops while on program, including the Civic Education. These workshops are generously funded by the US Department of State and provide specialized leadership training to students.
For American families, embarking on an historic experience by hosting a FLEX student is as memorable as it is fun. Find out how you can learn about the world without ever having to leave your backyard! To learn about how to become an ASSE Host Family click here.