Anastasiya Kulyshova spent her senior year of high school at Castle View High School in Castle Rock, Colorado as a finalist for the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) program. A native of Komsomolsk, Ukraine, Anastasiya was drawn to the program due to her interest in global politics and social issues.
“I wanted to see another, different life, which was nothing like I had for the past 16 years in Ukraine,” says Anastasiya. “I was seeking new experiences, new discoveries, and new concepts.”
Anastasiya engaged in many activities in her new city, volunteering in an animal shelter, participating in sports teams, and helping students with disabilities.
“As America is a huge country, every region is different,” says Anastasiya. “I think that I am extremely lucky to have spent my year here, in Colorado, as it has a similar nature to Ukraine.”
Her experience was enriched by her interactions with her host family—which included her host parents, four younger siblings, and four dogs.
“I was their first exchange student but after this year my host mom became really involved in the work of our cluster and now she became a local coordinator for my placement organization,” Anastasiya explains. “I am 100% sure that I’ll stay in touch with my host family and they will visit Ukraine in a few years, or, in another case, I’ll come to see them in America.”
The FLEX program was particularly memorable for Anastasiya because of the Christmas experience she had with her host family.
“My American family did their best to give me an experience of the true American Christmas, starting with the wish-list on the fridge and ending with sledding in a neighborhood park,” says Anastasiya.
Anastasiya is extremely appreciative for the opportunities the FLEX program has given her.
“I am thankful to every single person who I met during this time and was a part of my exchange year,” says Anastasiya. “I don’t regret anything about what I’ve done and have a feeling it could not have been better than it was.”