It’s always wonderful to hear about the remarkable paths our alumni take as they continue to excel beyond their time in our program. Meet Cristina from Romania, who spent her 2022/23 year in Texas with the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) program sponsored by the Department of State. As she formed lifelong bonds with her American host family and community, she also experienced personal growth that has shaped her future thanks to the opportunity FLEX scholarships provide. Today, she proudly serves as a City Representative on the FLEX Alumni Romania team.
What motivated you to apply for the FLEX scholarship?
I’ve always dreamed of doing an exchange year, but never actually took it into consideration. Later on I found out about the FLEX program. I stumbled across a FLEX alumna talking about her exchange experience, so I started looking into it and I decided to apply. Best decision I’ve ever made!
My experience was beyond anything I could have imagined. It was a roller coaster in the best way possible. It was life changing, amazing and hard at times. I laughed and I cried. I made life long memories and bonds. I still keep in touch with my host family, we text often and we’ve called a few times since I’ve been back. I also keep in touch with my International Coordinator, Sherri.
Could you tell us about your experience as a FLEX exchange student with Aspect?
My experience in the United States changed me in so many ways I believe no other experience could have. It helped me grow so much, both personally and professionally. It made me more independent, responsible, adaptable, confident and organized. This experience helped me get to know myself better and realize what I wanted to do in my future.
Could you share some memorable moments from your time as a FLEX student that had a significant impact on you?
If I had to choose one exact moment that I knew had an impact on me right away, it would definitely be Civic Education Week, a one week long workshop in Washington D.C. I got to meet FLEX exchange students from all the other countries. I got to visit the U.S. Department of State, Capitol Hill, the White House and many more, and I got the chance to meet senators, diplomats and ambassadors. After that week I decided I wanted to follow a career in international relations, most likely diplomacy.
Could you tell us about your role as a City Representative? What does it entail?
My role as a city representative is to maintain contact and bring together FLEX alumni communities at a local level by organizing monthly events. The events we organize are meant for us to share the knowledge, experience and skills we gained in the United States, and for us to give back to our local community.
What advice would you give to current FLEX applicants who aspire to become an exchange student?
I would just say be yourself, try your best and keep in mind that everybody has equal chances of getting the scholarship. Definitely don’t give up if you don’t get in on your first try and try again next year if you’re eligible.
Aspect Foundation is proud to be a placement organization for two highly-competitive, merit-based scholarship programs overseen by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. For more information, please visit our website.
Are you interested in making a student like Cristina a part of your family? We are looking for American host families to welcome a student for Spring 2024 and the upcoming 2024-25 school year! Check out the profiles of our wonderful students!