Exchange Students’ Voices Bring Cultural Exchange & Community Improvement in Hawaii
By Molly Vidmar, High School Program Assistant
The mission of the FLEX program is to provide students from countries from the former Soviet Union with opportunities to learn about and to exercise free speech and the democratic process. At an enhancement activity on exposing students to the different branches of government, FLEX students Begaiym and Diana were invited to speak in a public service announcement about cultural exchange, courtesy of Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi. The mayor asked what things could be done for exchange students living in Hawaii.
They replied that it would be beneficial if more languages were taught in school because this would being awareness to study abroad and to more countries around the world. Because they are bilingual themselves and are living a year in another country because of it, they understand how empowering it is to learn languages. Indeed, some students come from countries where they were taught three or four languages in school. The students also discussed public transportation servicing the island. Both students ride the bus and find that the route schedule needs improvement. There is no doubt that future exchange students, as well as the local community, will benefit from the insight that Begaiym and Diana provided on cultural exchange.
We are so grateful to our LCs who build bridges with communities and community leaders and to our students for bringing international awareness to public attention.
During this public service announcement, Mayor Billy Kenoi proclaimed March 2015 as Exchange Student Month.