Feel Like Something's Missing? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Did you ever want to live a different life for a while just to find yourself in a newenvironment? Do things you've never done before? Be among new people? Imagine howinteresting and exciting it would be to break the never-ending cycle of everydaylife.

Believe me, I know what I am talking about, because I was part ofthe intercultural exchange program for students from the former Soviet Union. Theprogram is called Freedom Support Act Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) and isfunded by the United States Government. The purpose of FLEX is to promote respectfor cultural diversity, friendship between the United States and the NewIndependent States of the former Soviet Union, and opportunities for personaldevelopment through international living.

FLEX provides students from theNew Independent States the opportunity to attend an American school for a year,live with a host family, acquire an understanding of important elements of acivil society, and serve as agents for change in their country when they return.The scholarships include travel to the U.S., orientation programs and materials,incidentals and monthly allowances, placement with a host family and enrollmentin school.

The United States Department of State's Bureau of Educationaland Cultural Affairs (ECA) administers the FLEX program, which is carried out by20 nonprofit organizations. There are lots of interesting, exciting aspects aboutintercultural exchange and opportunities to take a look at life from a differentpoint of view. It is as though people in one country see life through blueglasses and people in another see life through yellow glasses. While doing acultural exchange, you have the opportunity to see the world through blue, yellow- and combined green - glasses. It is also a great test of being responsible foryour own actions. If you want to prove to yourself that you are strong and canlive on your own, you should try to be an exchange student!

It's hard toleave home - you have your special role in your community, for better or worse.But somewhere there is a place where no one knows you and you can start your lifefrom the very beginning. You can even change your image if you want. Besides,it's extremely interesting to find something new every day and compare yourculture with another, laugh when you find something that you've been told iswrong, share what teenage life is like in your country with new friends, andlearn things that no teacher will ever teach you.

Do you know what thebest thing about intercultural exchange is? You will have an experience that youcreate yourself. The whole year depends on you and prepares you for your future.

Take the challenge! Find an intercultural exchange program and send inyour application. You'll have an experience you will never forget. Good luck, andhave fun!






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This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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