FLEX & YES Students of the Month (Dec 2022 - Jan 2023)

Four scholarship students recognized

FLEX Student of the Month (December 2022): Kamila from Kyrgyzstan

FLEX Student from Kyrgyzstan cooking in her Vermont home

PAX - Program of Academic Exchange is delighted to nominate Kamila, a FLEX exchange student from Kyrgyzstan, and Springfield, VT as the FLEX December Student of the Month!

Since her arrival, Kamila has been incredibly courteous, engaging, and willing to step outside of her comfort zone to fully embrace her American experience. Kamila truly exemplifies what the program is all about. She embarked on a journey many would consider overwhelming, all with a sense of humor, and a friendly, polite, and positive attitude. She is a wonderful ambassador for Kyrgyzstan.

Kamila has settled very quickly into her host family home and has helped them renew their appreciation of culture, community, and traditions. Her host family commented that Kamila has caused them all to reflect on their daily lives and how special their region is.  Her host father said, “We’ve learned to love things around us more. I’m not a big fan of the changing weather, but I saw the leaves again this year.”

Kamila is immersed in her high school experience. She selected classes that she is unable to experience fully at home, with chemistry and biology as examples. Kamila is doing well in school and has opted to take several advanced placement classes: Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Although her current coursework is geared toward science, she ultimately would like to pursue a career as a motion designer, something that will play to her creative side.

Kamila also enjoys the extracurricular activities that her school offers. She completed the fall season on the cheer team and will start on the bowling team this winter. She already has plans to try out for softball in the spring, a sport she says she knows nothing about but is eager to try! Although it is not a large club, she has also joined a group once a week for volleyball after school.

Kamila has made a positive impact at school, seeking out friendships with numerous other students. She enjoys sharing her culture with her school friends and representing her country. During International Education Week, Kamila gave seven presentations about Kyrgyzstan to her fellow students and prepared a popular bread for them to share.

Kamila has already completed 15 hours of community service, five of which were earned by participating with the local Black River Action Team (B.R.A.T.) during its annual River Sweep. She kayaked approximately a mile to the location and helped locate and collect trash and debris in the river. This is especially brave, as Kamila does not know how to swim!

Kamila has also volunteered in the local community with a grassroots group that cleans its waterways and volunteered at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post. She recently spoke with the Springfield Town Library Youth Services Director and will begin volunteering there soon.

Kamila has impacted her community, and those in the surrounding area, by interacting with the citizens and allowing them to learn how much we all have in common—regardless of our ages, politics, religion, or where we are from. Although to date she has not completed as many volunteering hours as she wanted, she is determined to reach the goal of 100 hours of volunteer service.

Kamila was recently interviewed by the Springfield Reporter and the article was published in the local paper, highlighting Kamila’s positive and engaging attitude.

Kamila has embraced cultural exchange and is an exemplary representative of Kyrgyzstan, the FLEX Program, and PAX. For this reason, PAX is delighted to nominate Kamila as the FLEX December Student of the Month!  

—The PAX Sponsored Programs team


YES Student of the Month (December 2022): Nikolija from North Macedonia

YES student from Bulgaria with her country's flag

PAX - Program of Academic Exchange is delighted to nominate Nikolija, a YES exchange student from North Macedonia, and Rogers, AR as the YES December Student of the Month!

Nikolija (Niki) is a pleasant, determined, natural-born leader. When she sets a goal to accomplish, she finds a way to accomplish that goal! Nikolija is always up for trying anything. She enjoys being active and has participated in hiking, camping, soccer, and track.

Nikolija joined a local scouting-type group called Pathfinders. In this group, she has earned community service hours and is learning to play the hand chimes, ukulele, and recorder. Nikolija also participates monthly in Project Prevent Youth Coalition as part of the NWA (Northwest Arkansas) Tobacco and Drug-Free Coalition.

Nikolija’s desire to do community service is infectious. She has already completed 61 hours of volunteering and is determined to reach and surpass the goal of 100 volunteer hours. To accomplish this, Nikolija has found many different activities in which to participate. She has made food boxes at the NWA food bank, helped grow food at a community garden, and distributed food to people in need. She has also helped at Dress for Success, which provides women with clothing for job interviews. She has volunteered extensively at school functions, typically helping to prep and clean up. When someone needs a hand, she is quick to volunteer, no matter the task. Nikolija also represented her country at an international food fair in September. She made three traditional Macedonian dishes (moussaka, kifli, and pinjur) for over 150 people to sample!

Nikolija’s leadership and volunteering didn’t stop there! Before International Education Week (IEW), Nikolija worked with her school counselor to highlight and celebrate the occasion school-wide. Nikolija also gave eight presentations about North Macedonia during IEW and will also be presenting to her Pathfinders group, a presentation that will focus on the music of Macedonia.

Recently, Nikolija was recognized by her high school at a surprise assembly, earning an award focusing on character and being a role model for her peers. She also received an award for her demonstration of proficiency in English.

One thing Niki always says is, “It’s fine.” This may seem insignificant, but it demonstrates her “roll with the punches” attitude about life. She is not easily flustered and takes problems in stride. This attitude is highlighted by the knowledge that although her natural father is currently being treated for cancer, she chose to come on her exchange year and continues to give it her all. 

Nikolija has embraced cultural exchange and is an exemplary representative of North Macedonia, the YES Program, and PAX. For this reason, PAX is delighted to nominate Nikolija as the YES December Student of the Month!  

—The PAX Sponsored Programs team


FLEX Student of the Month (January 2023): Roman from Ukraine

Ukrainian student in traditional national costume playing the ukulele

PAX - Program of Academic Exchange is pleased to nominate Roman, a FLEX exchange student from Ukraine, and Appleton, WI as the FLEX January Student of the Month!

Roman continuously impresses his Community Coordinator, host family, teachers, community members, and even the city mayor. He is kind, curious, and eager to jump in and participate. He listens attentively to ideas and suggestions and then soars on his own! Roman is hungry for purpose and learning throughout every day. Roman himself said, “I always try to find new things to do and get more valuable experience, as it’s extremely important for me to take advantage of everything I can.”

While Roman and his host family have only been together for a short time, both knew quickly they had an amazing year in store. Together, they cooked traditional Ukrainian food and explored each other’s language and traditions. Roman was excited to learn how Americans celebrate Christmas in December and is looking forward to teaching his host family how he and his natural family celebrate in January.

Roman’s determination and desire for learning don’t stop with his host family. He intentionally selected classes at his American high school he would not have had the opportunity to take in Ukraine. This includes a mix of English, government, and two foreign languages: French and Spanish. Since he already knew French, he was quick to accept a teaching assistant role in his French class, helping the teacher prepare materials and his classmates acclimate to the new language. The addition of Spanish to his schedule means that Roman can now say he knows seven different languages!

One of Roman’s teachers said, “Roman brings unbridled curiosity and enthusiasm. He came to America to learn about our country, but the student has become the teacher. Roman loves to share stories about food, family, and traditions in Ukraine. His love for his home country may only be matched by his interest in ours.”

Roman has joined three clubs in his school: DECA, Key Club, and the international club.  Each of these clubs offers Roman a chance to learn, develop his skills and share his culture. If that wasn’t enough to stay busy, Roman has also volunteered over 80 hours. He has volunteered in many ways and consistently signs up for various events at school, with Salvation Army, or at Pillars shelter. Roman does not intend to stop at 100 hours; he has found that volunteering brings him much happiness!

During IEW, Roman gave 24 school presentations. More than 600 people attended! The most notable attendee was the mayor. Roman had previously met with the mayor to introduce himself and begin to learn more about leadership within the U.S. Roman invited him to attend one of his presentations and was very pleased he attended. On social media, the mayor referred to Roman as, “a friend of the city.”

Recently, Roman was awarded a school award for exhibiting exemplary behavior at school. The teacher who nominated him said, “Roman is one of the sweetest and most hard-working students I know! He always has a positive attitude and is always willing to volunteer.” Roman also participated in his first DECA competitive event for future leaders. Roman scored 97/100 in speaking on his presentation and took second place in the competition!

Roman has embraced cultural exchange and is an exemplary representative of Ukraine, the FLEX Program, and PAX. For this reason, PAX is delighted to nominate Roman as the FLEX January Student of the Month!

—The PAX Sponsored Programs team


YES Student of the Month (January 2023): Katarina from Bosnia and Herzegovina

YES student from Indonesia

PAX - Program of Academic Exchange is delighted to nominate Katarina, a YES exchange student from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Chehalis, WA as the YES January Student of the Month!

Every exchange student is unique and special. They each stand out in their own ways. Katarina stands out for her empathy, kindness, and dedication. She is well-known in her school for her kind words, enthusiasm, and encouragement.

Katarina’s host family agrees that her enthusiasm is contagious! Katarina and her host family have enjoyed each moment they have had together—whether it is cooking traditional Bosnian meals, watching movies, playing games, or just doing chores. Katarina especially enjoys helping her host mother in the kitchen preparing meals. This time together allows them to bond and learn more about each other and their life experiences.

Katarina is in a double placement with a student from Thailand, which has served to make her experience even more enriching. She admits it was a struggle at first to balance three cultural differences, but now very much enjoys it and says, “It's so interesting, because I get to learn about so many countries and cultures in this experience!”

Katarina is thoroughly enjoying her American school experience thus far. She is taking many upper-level classes to challenge herself and get the most out of her time in the U.S. Although she does not know much about U.S. history, she says it is her favorite class, and she is learning so much about America and our history. She also volunteers as an office assistant in her school’s main office. She enjoys spending time with the school staff and doing even the simplest tasks to help. During IEW, Katarina not only presented information about Bosnia and Herzegovina in five presentations, but she also made quizzes and games to teach the teacher and classmates her language.

Katarina has a long list of extracurriculars. At the beginning of the school year, she joined FFA, FBLA, and the Novice Flight Knowledge Bowl team. She played volleyball during the fall and has now begun basketball. Katarina has never played basketball before and admits she is not very skilled! She says, “I still haven't made a basket at our basketball games. I can assist or cheer them on, but no baskets.” She is determined to improve her skills and be a part of the team, nonetheless. 

Katarina has done approximately 80 hours of community service—watching young children at church, helping the Seattle Angels write thank-you cards, working at her school sporting events, etc. Most of Katarina’s volunteer hours are spent helping an older woman with disabilities who lives near her host family. 

Katarina quickly noticed her neighbor was struggling to keep up with her housework and offered to help. Now Katarina spends nearly one hour every day doing various things for her such as helping with the dog, taking out the garbage, bringing in groceries and mail, or just keeping her company. Katarina really enjoys her time spent there and says, “I am always happy I can make her life easier by doing an hour of community service almost every day.”

To honor Katarina’s kindness, enthusiasm, and determination, PAX humbly nominates her as the January YES Student of the Month.

—The PAX Sponsored Programs team