We recently asked Daniela to describe her Greenheart Exchange experience so far as a FLEX student being hosted in Minnesota. Daniela is from Moldova and earned her scholarship to attend a USA High School on The Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) program. Read on to hear more about how it’s going!
What was it like to apply for the FLEX program back in Moldova? How did you prepare for this exchange year?
Applying for the FLEX program represented a significant step to reach my dream to go to the USA. I really enjoyed the process, and the FLEX rounds made me think deeply about who I am and what I want to achieve.
I prepared a lot for this exchange year. I invested time and put in a huge effort to be ready to share my culture and to make sure people I meet will learn about Moldova. I started to collect the most beautiful and meaningful pictures, videos with Moldavian places, cultural events, and traditions. I also created a special card about myself in order to easier create connections with new people I meet and to keep in touch with them. I made a playlist with Moldovian music and practiced cooking our traditional food.
Describe your host family and their farm. What is daily life like there? In what ways is it different than your day-to-day life in Moldova?
My host family is unique, kind, patient, and always supports me. All the family members are hard working and passionate about what they are doing. Even though I have grown in a village and I am used to animals, the farm experience is different here. First of all, there is a modern farm that has special equipment. Also, there are two horses. I enjoy riding them with my host sister and watching the sunset while we ride.
What is your favorite part so far about the USA or going to a USA high school?
I strongly believe that the highlight of American adventure is people. I feel blessed I am surrounded with an amazing community. To better get to know my host family´s relatives, I played chess, danced for them, and shared with my host grandma fun facts about Moldova during our time at the library or church. The first day of school was fantastic. The teachers and a lot of students were smiling at me and started to ask questions about me and my home country. Also, the first ride on the school bus was fascinating and a good environment to make new friends. I can’t forget a girl from the bus that was so excited to meet me and to have a conversation with me (she was literally jumping and smiling all the time; she made my day, because she told me more information about school and gave me some tips).
Have you had any culture shock? What happened and how are you handling it?
Yes, I had culture shock many times and that makes the experience even more interesting. First of all, a lot of teenagers have a driver´s license (in Moldova we can get one when we are at least 18 years old). Second, a lot of people I don’t know are simply smiling at me and that makes me feel welcomed in this community. Third, the measurements. Everything is so different: miles, Fahrenheit, pounds (in Moldova we use kilometers, Celsius degrees, kilograms) and many times I think to calculate how this will be in the measurements I am used to. Culture shock is part of the exchange year. My host mom explains to me every time I need what I do not understand and answers all of my questions. I always try to use my communicative nature in order to handle all the challenging situations.
Why do you think doing a program like this is so important?
Exchange programs like FLEX represent a unique opportunity to change one’s mindset, to become more open minded, to get out of one’s comfort zone, to develop important skills for life, and to create enduring ties. In a nutshell, it’s a chance to change the world beginning with us.
Are you going to do a volunteer project here in the USA? Tell us about what your plans are.
Of course, I want to be engaged in the community as much as possible. I have the intention to organize a festival of cultures at the library where we can discover interesting facts about Moldova and other exchange students’ home countries from my school (Spain, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Palestine). I would also like to implement a charity or sustainable project to bring happiness to someone’s life.
Tell us about your local coordinator and their role in your exchange experience so far.
I’m very thankful for my wonderful local coordinator… the Greenheart orientations, the unlimited help and support and advice to have a successful exchange year are precious to me. I am glad we will have many activities together to create the best memories!
FLEX is a competitive, merit-based scholarship program funded by the U.S. Department of State. FLEX students spend an academic year in the United States living with a volunteer host family and attending a U.S. high school. FLEX students gain leadership skills, learn about American society and values, and teach Americans about FLEX countries and cultures. The primary goal of the program is to improve mutual understanding while developing and strengthening long-term relationships between citizens of the United States and other peoples and countries.
Greenheart Exchange is always looking for host families. If you or someone you know is interested, please learn more here: