My name is Raleigh Seamster and I was a PCV in Ukraine from 2002-2004, serving as a TEFL volunteer in a secondary school. My experience there only strengthened my conviction in the importance of cultural exchange programs and I wished that my Ukrainian students, so eager to learn about life outside of their country and proud to share about their own culture, could have an opportunity to travel overseas and have meaningful cultural exchanges with people from other cultures. Unfortunately, because of the economic and political situation in the country, this opportunity proved to be very elusive for my kids.
While in Ukraine, I became familiar with an organization called American Councils for International Education and the program that it administered: the Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX). This program is a merit-based scholarship high school exchange, sponsored by the Department of State, that gives students from the former Soviet Union an opportunity to live with an American host family and study in a U.S. high school for an academic year. I saw my own students motivated to study English by the existence of such a program. One of my students, Yulia, even became a finalist that year, and spent the next year living in a small town in Missouri. She had an incredible experience there that truly broadened her horizons.
After COS, I returned to my hometown of Washington, DC and began working with American Councils. I now work to help place high school exchange students with host families and communities across the U.S. We are currently working to find homes for students from three different State Department-sponsored programs: FLEX, YES, and A-SMYLE.
The FLEX program brings students from the following countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine.
The YES program brings students from countries with significant Muslim populations. Our organization places the students from Afghanistan.
The A-SMYLE program brings students from Serbia and Montenegro.
I am contacting you because, as a fellow RPCV, I know that you are interested in cultural exchange and probably you are acquainted with like-minded folks. If you are interested in the possibility of hosting an exchange student, or know people or groups in your community that might be interested, I kindly ask you to contact me for more information as soon as possible.
Thank you for your commitment to the ideal of cultural exchange.
RPCV Ukraine '02-'04
Peace Corps - The Third Goal: "Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of all Americans."
Secondary School Programs
American Councils for International Education
1776 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20036-10-4
(202) 833-7523 (fax)
Ben Bellows, Betsy Gilliland and Holly Dreier
Your eConnection Team
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