Information for finalists
December, 5 2013
Finalist status is determined in late March or early April. American Councils representatives will call each finalist and alternate candidate to notify them of their status. If you learn that you are a finalist, make sure to consult with your parents and teachers before confirming your status and accepting the scholarship.
The decision to participate in the program or not is an important one – therefore, carefully weigh all of the pluses and minuses of participation. An independent committee in Washington, DC has determined you are prepared to participate in a year-long exchange program; however, it is up to you and your parents to decide whether to participate in the program or not. The program must fit your expectations and plans for the future.
As you make your decision, please remember that:
• The program determines where participants will live and assigns host families. You may not choose the state, city, school, or family where you will live and study.
• The system of education in the US is very different from the system of education in Moldova. You and your parents should speak with your school director about how your participation in the program will affect your studies in Moldova. You may not return to your country earlier than the middle of next year.
• You may not return home for holidays or celebrations and your parents may visit you only with the permission of your placement organization.
• According to J-1 visa (the type of visa issued to exchange students) regulations, FLEX program participants must return home after completing the program and live in their home country for 2 years. Visa will not be extended for any reason.
As you think about whether to accept the scholarship, it is important to consider the fact that the demands of the FLEX program are quite high and participation in the program requires you to take on responsibilities and face challenges, especially in the area of relationship building.
Program participants must follow many rules during the 10-month program. To successfully complete the program, participants must be fully committed and sincerely interested in doing so. If you realize that you are not particularly interested in living in a foreign environment and fulfilling all the requirements of the program, it would be better for you to decline participation in the program now in order to avoid a stressful situation later. Declining now will give the opportunity to someone who sincerely wishes to participate.
Please give this question your serious consideration – discuss it with your parents and ask questions of your American Councils representative so that you are confident that you are making the right choice for yourself and for the FLEX program.
If you have decided that you want to participate on the FLEX program, you should be ready to do the following to prepare for your exchange experience:
• Maintain contact with your American Councils representative in order to receive news and information regarding preparations for your exchange year (for example, information about your host family and date of departure).
• Apply for your international passport. If you do not have an international passport, you must apply for one immediately after being notified of your status as a finalist or alternate. If you have a passport, make sure that it is valid at least until the middle of July of next year. Your American Councils representative will notify you about the deadline for submitting your international passport.
• Determine your academic standing with your home school. Meet with the director of your school to discuss how participation in the FLEX program will affect your studies in your home country – this is solely your responsibility.
• Prepare other documents, required for participation in the program, for example, your parents’ permission to travel, medical certificates and forms, academic transcript, academic agreement and others. Your American Councils representative will give you more specific information on the types of required documents and their deadlines.
• Participate in the Pre-Departure orientation (PDO). Every finalist must participate in a four-day orientation program designed to help students adapt to life as an exchange student. The orientation program usually takes place in June or July.
• Apply for a US visa. In order to participate in the FLEX program, students must receive a US visa. To apply for a US visa, students must complete a visa application form and attend a face-to-face interview at the US Embassy or Consulate. Interviews are usually scheduled to take place during the pre-departure orientation. Your American Councils representative will provide instructions on how to apply for a US visa.
• Depart for the US. In the end of June your American Councils representative will inform you of your departure date. FLEX participants travel to the US in groups accompanied by a representative of American Councils. The first group will leave for the US in the end of July, the last group will leave in the end of August. Your departure date will depend on several factors, including the start of the academic year at your American school. Whenever possible, travel arrangements are made to accommodate student arrival to the US before the start of school. FLEX participants may not choose their departure date.
If you do not have a host family several days before your scheduled departure for the US, your departure will be rescheduled for the end of August. Your American Councils representative will inform you of your new departure date.
Placement organizations strive to match each student’s interests with those of a host family. This is a complex and demanding process that requires time and attention. For this reason, you may receive information on your host family anytime between the day you receive your finalist status up until several days before your departure for the US.
In the unlikely event that your placement organization cannot find a host family and/or host school for you by the placement deadline, you will not be able to participate in the program. This has never happened in the past; however, all candidates should be aware of the possibility.
Please contact your American Councils representative for more information on the FLEX program.