August 13, 2014

FLEX Student of the Month – April 2014

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Vera teaching Russian dance Vera teaching Russian dance
Vera Kalinina, a States’ 4-H FLEX student from Russia, made a major impact on her host community and the state of Oregon. At Oregon’s first statewide “Experiencing Citizenship” conference, Vera delivered a presentation about the Russian education system, economy, workforce, military requirements, food traditions, and recreation for teens, and compared the local and national government structure in the United States and Russia. The 65 teen delegates in attendance were so interested in the information she presented that they asked her questions for over 40 minutes, and throughout the conference they engaged her in conversation after conversation about Russia. In addition, Vera volunteered to be an active participant in an Issue Group that examined several difficult topics posed by the Oregon Department of Transportation and played an active role on a 4-H state government committee that heard testimony on five proposed 4-H bills to determine if they should be passed to the floor of the 4-H House of Representatives.
 
Vera is energetically involved in her host school and community. For her school senior project she was able to bring them together in a joint venture to raise funds for the Kids Club after-school program. She recruited more than 20 musicians to perform a variety of music in a benefit concert. Teenagers who sang popular songs to old-time fiddlers and a college student who played the guitar, the harmonica, and sang his own original songs, were a big hit! Over 80 people attended, ranging in age from 3 to 83, and $320 was raised for the Kids Club. This wasn’t Vera’s first time volunteering to help with the Kids Club. For International Education Week, she planned and presented over two hours of activities to teach children, ages 5 to 13, about Russia. She taught Russian songs, dances, and games and served some of her favorite Russian dishes. Vera is also an excellent student, a member of the school yearbook staff, cross-country and track teams, and managed the girls’ basketball team.
 
Vera brought together her host family and natural family. For New Year’s, she treated her host family to a traditional Russian New Year’s Eve celebration. She showed them Russian traditions in which they participated through Skype with her natural family, not once but twice, when it turned midnight in Russia and again when it was midnight in Oregon. On New Year’s Day, friends came over to enjoy Russian food and learn and share traditions. She also volunteered at her host family's church as well as a local senior center.
 
Vera is an excellent FLEX program ambassador. She energetically learned about U.S. culture, government, and community service and enthusiastically shared Russian culture and traditions, successfully fostering mutual understanding.
 
Congratulations, Vera!
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