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

Four scholarship students recognized

FLEX Student of the Month (January 2022): Anna from Ukraine

FLEX Student from Ukraine posing for golf team photo

PAX - Program of Academic Exchange is thrilled to nominate Anna Gumenyuk, a FLEX exchange student from Ukraine and Fountaintown, Indiana, to be the January FLEX Student of the Month.

Since her arrival, Anna has made a considerable impact on her host family, local coordinator, community, and friends. As her Community Coordinator states, “Anna is a ray of sunshine, bringing positivity to the world!” An example of this can be found in her selfless work connecting students at her high school. Shortly after school began, Anna noticed that not all students had close friends and some students ate alone at lunch. Through her participation in media class, Anna suggested they create a birthday message for student birthdays. Anna took the lead to make it happen! She emailed all the students in her high school, asking for them to provide their favorite photo of themselves and their birthday so that on their birthday, their photo would be highlighted on the screen with special birthday wishes!

Anna cooks frequently with her host family, having made potato dumplings, muffins, Ukrainian pancakes, and more. She is a delightful addition and is always interested in helping. Anna’s host family is busy, both professionally and personally. But Anna has acclimated to the busyness and become a close friend to her host mother, Tiffany. At the end of a long day, they love to curl up on the couch together and discuss their day while they catch up on TV shows.  

Anna’s love of learning has led to her learning seven languages, as well as her tremendous grades at school, where she studies U.S. History, French, English, Sociology & Psychology, Choir, Art, and Pre-Calculus. She is also active in drama, golf, and tennis and hopes to join the archery team. All her teachers and coaches praise her friendliness, respect, and eagerness to learn.    

Anna’s heart knows no bounds as she tries to meet the needs of everyone around her. In just five months, she has already logged 157 hours doing a variety of volunteering at church, school, and in the community.

Anna’s Community Coordinator, Sabrina Hickey, provided the following story that truly captures Anna’s thoughtfulness and thankfulness. Sabrina writes, “At every PAX event that I have planned, she always organizes the students in our cluster to write me a thank you note with reasons they appreciate me and the activities I plan. It’s truly one of the kindest gestures that I’ve had a student do, and it makes me feel appreciated and loved for my efforts—regardless of whether it’s a large, detailed activity or just something small and fun. Little acts of kindness like this remind me every day why I enjoy working with our PAX students. She’s a joy to be around and has the sweetest heart.”

Anna’s exemplary spirit, kindness, and motivation make it an honor for PAX to nominate her for FLEX’s Student of the Month program!

—The PAX Sponsored Programs team


YES Student of the Month (January 2022): Tanya from Bulgaria

YES student from Bulgaria with her country's flag

PAX - Program of Academic Exchange is excited to nominate Tanya Atanasova, a YES exchange student from Bulgaria and Ripon, WI, to be the January YES Student of the Month.

Tanya has excelled as an exchange student from the moment she arrived. She began the year with a welcome family and transitioned to her permanent host family in September. Tanya took the move in stride and immediately embraced being a part of both families. Now that she has settled in with her permanent family, she takes every opportunity to share her culture and country, while also learning and engaging in American culture. An example of this is the “Bulgarian Sunday” traditional Tanya has established for her host family—complete with a traditional Bulgarian dish and an hour-long presentation and discussion about Bulgaria and cultural exchange.

Tanya is fully immersed in her school community as well. She is earning excellent grades in her various classes of U.S. History, German 5, American Lit, AP Chemistry, Photoshop, and Painting/Drawing. Tanya is involved in several extracurricular activities including swimming and the German club, as well as the student council and Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). Tanya has enjoyed these opportunities to help influence fellow students during swim practice and helped them to improve in their own leadership qualities. Tanya really enjoys working with them and helping them improve!

Tanya shared that her favorite activity so far has been giving International Education Week (IEW) presentations, as she is passionate that Americans learn and understand more about Bulgaria. During IEW, Tanya did over 10 presentations and baked more than 160 cookies for all the classes for which she did a presentation on Bulgaria! Tanya presented not only to students in her high school but also in the elementary and middle school in her community.  

When she arrived in the U.S., Tanya set a goal to be the best that she can be and take advantage of every opportunity the program has to offer. The community in which Tanya lives is small, and Tanya has made her presence known! She is always focused on giving back and sharing her culture. Tanya has already contributed 91 volunteer hours. Her activities include volunteering at Packer home games, working at the local thrift store, and helping elementary children purchase Christmas gifts at their school. Tanya received a Business Achievement award in FBLA, as well as some first and second place awards in swimming! Most recently, Tanya learned she has been accepted as a Civic Education Week finalist!

Tanya believes that being here is a great responsibility, and she needs to use it to the fullest by taking advantage of every opportunity presented to her. Her motivation to make the most of her year and her contributions to her community make it an honor for PAX to nominate her for YES’s Student of the Month program!

—The PAX Sponsored Programs team


FLEX Student of the Month (February 2022): Viktoriia from Ukraine

Ukrainian student in traditional national costume playing the ukulele

PAX - Program of Academic Exchange is delighted to nominate Viktoriia Burdiad, a FLEX exchange student from Ukraine and Franklin, Indiana, to be the February FLEX Student of the Month.

Viktoriia has fully embraced the meaning of cultural exchange! She is dedicated to sharing her culture, engaged in her community and school, and has been an integral member of her host family.

Viktoriia and her host family have been a great match since the beginning. Viktoriia enjoys being active, and her host family are adventure seekers as well. They have stayed active during Viktoriia’s stay by cooking, hiking, and traveling. Viktoriia’s host family enjoys seeing her reaction to new places and experiences. Viktoriia is an only child but now considers her two young host siblings family. Viktoriia’s host mom frequently tells Viktoriia, “We are grateful to your mom that we were able to borrow you for a year!”

In school, Viktoriia excels in the classroom and in her activities. Now in the second semester, she is trying show choir, a traveling choir that performs in competitions. This is a new experience for her, and she is very excited! Viktoriia is a member of many clubs such as Best Buddies, Mental Health Club, Fine Arts Team, and Art Club, to name a few. As part of her involvement in the Mental Health Club, Viktoriia was chosen to be on the Bring Change to Mind Indiana Teen Advisory Board, a program that gives teens a platform to share their voices and raise awareness about mental health. And if she wasn’t busy enough, she is also a cast member of her school's spring play, Charlotte’s Web.

Viktoriia says that volunteering was one of the things she was most excited about when coming to the United States. To find as many opportunities as possible, she joined Key Club and Interact Club in her school. Currently, Viktoriia has over 63 hours of volunteering logged!  And although International Education Week (IEW) is over, Viktoriia continues to share her presentation throughout her community.

Viktoriia recently met Indiana Congresswoman Victoria Spartz, who was born and raised in Ukraine. Viktoriia noted it was a pleasure for her to talk with Congresswoman Spartz about the differences between the U.S. and Ukraine, as well as learn about her journey to becoming a public official. Congresswoman Spartz told Viktoriia, “America is open for everyone.”

Viktoriia’s dedication, energy, and enthusiasm for cultural exchange made choosing her as PAX’s nomination for student of the month a natural choice! 

—The PAX Sponsored Programs team


YES Student of the Month (February 2022): Felicia from Indonesia

YES student from Indonesia

PAX - Program of Academic Exchange is excited to nominate Felicia Aldiyani, a YES exchange student from Indonesia and Anacortes, WA, to be the February YES Student of the Month.

“Felicia always gives her best and is never weary of improving herself” are the opening lines of Felicia’s host mother’s nomination letter. As one learns more about Felicia’s time on exchange, it is easy to see how true this statement is. Felicia has adjusted wonderfully to the many cultural differences she has encountered and willingly steps out of her comfort zone to fully immerse herself in the experiences. At the beginning of her year in the U.S., Felicia commented, “I believe that this is the beginning of an incredible experience that will change my life and change the way I see the world.” As the months have hurried by, Felicia has seized every opportunity to enhance her experience.

Felicia is passionate about her education and has enrolled in many difficult courses to challenge herself as well as further her education. While Felicia already spoke English competently, she did not feel she was proficient enough and enrolled in an AP English course to challenge herself. She succeeded in this challenge, earning an “A,” not only in AP English but also in each of her other classes. Felicia also takes advantage of opportunities to be involved at school. She is a member of the Speech and Debate Club, Key Club, Varsity in Volunteerism, and the Cheerleading team. Felicia’s involvement in these endeavors has proven her leadership skills in the school and community. During International Education Week, Felicia went above and beyond, not only giving eight presentations to her American peers but also giving presentations to students in Indonesia about her experience with education in America!

Felicia is a wonderful ambassador of Indonesia in her community as well. She regularly volunteers at church, a thrift shop, school, and other various events and opportunities in the community. Felicia believes that volunteering is a way for her to show gratitude to her American community, as well as provide an opportunity to give back for their graciousness. Presently, Felicia has already amassed 85 volunteering hours and has no plans to stop!

While Felicia has not won any formal awards or received any certificates, she is quick to note her biggest award is always being and showing the best version of herself to those around her.  In her nomination, Felicia’s host mother provided many examples of Felicia’s positivity and drive to succeed.

Felicia’s optimism, drive, and successes made her a natural choice for PAX’s nomination for February’s YES Student of the Month!

—The PAX Sponsored Programs team