World Link was once again selected and honored to host the Ministry of Education delegates during their site visit. In December, delegates from the FLEX countries of Estonia, Lithuania, and Serbia flew to Washington D.C. where they toured the U.S. Capitol building, met with leaders in the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Department, and learned the ins and outs of the FLEX Program and it’s selection process from the President and Executive Vice Presidents of American Councils.
Following their days in D.C., the delegates Ms. Ruth Opmann from Estonia, Ms. Jurga Strumskiene from Lithuania, and Dr. Radivoje Stojkovic from Serbia boarded a plane headed for St. Louis to visit students and host schools in our Belleville, IL cluster.
It was a short two-day visit packed with tours and meetings with high school staff and students. During their first day in the Midwest, the group started at Belleville East High School with a warm welcome from Principal Jason Karstens. Our World Link student Maksim Vojvodic (Serbia/IL) along with an American student gave a tour of the school. To everyone’s surprise, it turned out Dr. Stojkovic, the Serbian representative, is also the director of Maksim’s high school back in his home country!
After their tour, the delegates sat down with Board of Eduacation members and the principal to learn about the role the community plays in education and the impact of extra-curricular activities on students in U.S. schools.
Later that afternoon, the delegation headed to Belleville West High School, where they met Principal Richard Mertens to discuss the curriculum and standards of the U.S. educational system and also the important role exchange students play in American high schools. After this meeting, the representatives toured the school’s academic and activities departments led by World Link student Agne Savickaitie (Lithuania/IL) and two American students.
The following day started with a cultural site visit to the Jefferson Expansion Museum and Gateway Arch Park. After enjoying St. Louis from a birds-eye view and some traditional St. Louis Bar-B-Que, the representatives returned to Belleville West for a ‘Student Round-Table Discussion” with both American high school and FLEX students. Their school visit was capped off by a reception with school administration, teachers, and staff.
During their visit, all three delegates were treated to a homemade dinner by a World Link host family and their FLEX exchange son or daughter. Ms. Opmann dined with World Link FLEX student Marleen Anderson (Estonia/IL) and her host family, the Ross’. Dr. Stojkovic joined the Tetterow Family with their exchange son Maksim. Ms. Strumskiene met the Gruenewald Family who hosts Agne.
World Link would like to thank American Councils for again giving us this opportunity to teach Ministry of Education delegates about the U.S. educational system and show the importance of cultural exchange on host communities. These visitors left with many good impressions of the FLEX Program, American high schools, and international exchange students.
Read about last year’s Ministry of Education U.S. visit here.