On November 15 in downtown Warsaw, Cultural Attaché Dan Hastings spoke at the Central Europe FLEXability workshop attended by approximately 60 teenagers from Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Armenia and Georgia who were in Poland for three days to learn skills in Digital Storytelling. The workshop was organized by the Washington, DC-based American Councils for International Education which administers the FLEX exchange in Poland and was held on the premises of Warsaw’s Dreamers and Artisans – House for Social Innovation. During the meeting, the program participants learned not only how to use new technologies to tell stories and become active citizen journalists, but also about the various educational, leadership, and career development opportunities that await them when they officially join the U.S. State Department’s Alumni network. In addition, the Cultural Attaché also gave a presentation on his home state of California, and its leading role in new technologies and industries worldwide. The U.S. Department of State is a strong supporter of improving and strengthening ties and mutual understanding through academic, professional and cultural exchange. When U.S. embassies deepen their connections with FLEX alumni they encourage young, future leaders to remain engaged as cultural ambassadors for the United States and their respective home countries alike.
The Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) Program is a United States Department of State-sponsored program for secondary school students from Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine. The program provides merit-based scholarships for students to travel to the United States, live with a host family, and attend a U.S. high school for a full academic year. FLEX was established in 1992 and funding is provided through the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The program was created from the conviction of former Senator Bill Bradley that the best way to ensure long-lasting peace and understanding between the U.S. and the countries of Eurasia is to enable young people to learn about the U.S. and Americans firsthand, and to teach Americans about their countries. The primary goal of the FLEX program is to improve mutual understanding and develop and strengthen long-term relationships between citizens of the United States and other peoples and countries. The State Department supports exchanges for secondary school students from over 50 countries through FLEX and other academic year programs. Since the program’s inception in 1993, over 26,300 students have participated in the FLEX program.