Coming to Manawa is a great opportunity for a 17-year-old from the Ukraine.
Anzhelika Viktoriuna Iasyshena, of Vinnytsya, Ukraine, is a member of the junior class at Little Wolf High School.
She said classes are very different in the Ukraine.
In her home country, they are required to take 21 subjects. Here, she has seven subjects every day.
“In America, you have a choice,” she said. “In the Ukraine, it is obligatory to study everything.”
The teaching methods also differ.
“Here, they have lots of presentations,” she said, noting this type of teaching provides an entertainment aspect that helps students to learn.
There are also no lockers in her country’s schools. In Manawa, she has a student locker and a gym locker. It took her about 3-4 days to get used to having combination locks.
She was excited to discover that high school students in the U.S. are allowed to drive a car and have jobs. In the Ukraine, these opportunities aren’t allowed until a person is 18. Even then, the choices are limited.
Anzhelika especially likes the food in the U.S. For instance, in the Ukraine, they only have cola, sprite and orange soft drinks. In the U.S., she has, “tried a lot of things,” and was delighted to discover Dr. Pepper and marshmallows.
Her first Halloween experience was at Fire Fest, where she had a lot of fun and received a lot of candy.
“I am so thankful to my host family that they did that for me,” she said. “I like candies.”
Anzhelika’s host family is Tammy and Paul Olk, who she describes as “amazing.” Last year, the Olks also hosted a student from the Ukraine.
Anzhelika has had the opportunity to do some traveling. Recently she visited the Mall of America. Her host family also plans to take her on other trips around the United States and maybe even to New York City.
“It is so cool to be here and do so many things,” she said.
Her subjects at school include psychology, U.S. history, physical education, English and choir. Next semester, she will study government, sociology and art.
Besides taking classes, Anzhelika is also trying to join as many clubs and activities as possible. She was a member of the cross country team and plans to try basketball, softball, FFA and Swing Choir.
“I want to join as many clubs as possible in school,” she said. “I want to be a success here and remember my experiences for my whole life. It is such a great opportunity.”
As part of the FLEX program, she is required to do 100 volunteer hours while in the U.S. So far, she has helped with concessions at football and volleyball games and dressed in a wolf costume for the Wolf Walk.
“That was very hot,” she said, “but the small children loved it.”
Anzhelika learned English in kindergarten and studied the language for nine years. Sometimes it is hard for her to understand certain words and people who speak too fast. Also, she noted the jokes and the television shows are different.
She also speaks German, Russian and Ukrainian.
Coming to the U.S. took her out of her comfort zone, Anzhelika admitted. But she sees it as a wonderful chance to mature and become more independent.
She misses her mother, her younger brother, and her friends.
“Sometimes I want to be in two places at once,” she said.
Being away from home has been a bit easier with access to social networks and Skype, she admitted.
“It is very good for our district to have foreign exchange students,” said LWHS Principal Karl Morin. “Our students get to learn about other countries and it is also good for the foreign students to come here. It’s a win-win for everybody.”
Anzhelika is part of the Flex Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX), a U.S. State Department-sponsored scholarship program for students from the countries of the former Soviet Union.
The program was founded in 1992 as a medium to build future U.S. relations based upon bridges of personal friendship and mutual understanding.
Being selected to receive a FLEX scholarship is an extremely prestigious honor. The application process is rigorous, and students are selected for their academic achievements, involvement in extracurricular and community activities, and the personal traits and characteristics of an ideal exchange student.
In the Ukraine, Anzhelika would be a senior. Upon returning home in May 2014, she will write a special test in order to graduate.
Her next step is to attend a university.
“I want to study abroad,” Anzhelika said.
She is looking at colleges in Wisconsin and in Europe, Poland and Germany.
“I’m interested in civics and want to solve different issues with countries,” she said.
Her goal is to be an international lawyer and an ambassador for the Ukraine.
“Now I am like an ambassador because I’m representing my country,” she said.
She describes her country as having an unstable economy and unstable politics.
“That is why I want to go into politics and help make my country prosperous and strong,” she said.
“I want to become proficient in English, speak it fluently and learn all the international laws,” Anzhelika added. “I am very ambitious.
“I want to become the president of the Ukraine.”