Written by World Link FLEX student Anano Arveladze '19 (Georgia/IA)
It is rightly said, “The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams”. But what is a dream? The general definition of the dream is a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ordeal. Do you have dreams? Well, I do. I have many. And I am living in one of them right now.
What is the first thing you imagine when you hear America? For some, it might be Starbucks. It might be New York City for others. For me? America is a country filled with people of different cultures, nationalities, traditions, and customs. I never imagined one day I could be among those people.
Some people may think that I am lucky, but it wasn’t only luck that led me this direction. I jumped on the opportunity I had and did everything in my power to get to the place where I am right now.
What was that opportunity? My city was holding the FLEX Program testing. If I won all three testing rounds and passed my interviews, I could go to America, on a full scholarship. Even now I remember how thrilling it was when I went to the first round.
I walked into the room filled with children of my age and sat down. I took the first test, but was very worried. Would I be able to finish it in the allotted time? Fortunately, I did. For the second round, they asked us to write three essays in a fixed time. Again, I was worried about the time limit, but I did it!
Then the period of waiting for the call came to see if I was chosen for the third round. I waited weeks! This was the only time in my life my phone was always fully charged. Then it happened, I got the call! I made it to the third round.
The Third Round
To me, the third round was the hardest one. I not only had to write more essays, but I had an interview, group work, more tests and the application to fill out for our future host families. Yes, it was a lot of work to do, but it also was one of the most fascinating periods of my life.
Then more waiting began to see if I was going to be a FLEX finalist. After a few months, I saw an incoming number and immediately recognized. It was from FLEX! I answered it. One of the most beautiful voices informed me- I was chosen as a finalist. Instructions were given, but I could only focus on the fact; I was chosen as a finalist.
After hearing the word finalist, I felt tears falling down my cheeks and could not talk for a few seconds. All my hard work was worth it.
Exactly three months later, I was on a plane headed to America. I was flying above the clouds, watching the fascinating view from my window and feeling the excitement, joy, and happiness this year would bring me.
My journey, I
I also felt grateful because I was going to the country which millions of people dreamed of. A country filled with thrilling excitement! When I stepped foot on the Washington Airport ground, I could feel my heart beating faster.
Maybe because I still couldn’t believe I was in America, or maybe because I was in a new country, with new people. It was this moment I realized the new part of my life had started. Many new adventures were yet to come.
Since I came here, I was exposed to tons of different opportunities that helped me gain experience and become a different, better person that I am right now.
Volunteering was one of the best things I have done during my stay in America and I can assure you there is no better feeling than helping people in the whole world.
Our first volunteering opportunity as World Link students was
As soon as I heard of it, I started fundraising. I went door to door and asked people to donate. I made donation boxes and put them in the library and grocery stores and I even announced about it at school.
Finally, I reached my goal and raised over $100 to donate to the cause. It was thrilling! And the fact that I helped someone filled me with happiness.
Another opportunity we had was International Education Week. People all over the world celebrate this special week by sharing their culture. It was one of the most memorable weeks of my life.
Every part of this week from giving presentations, to dancing to or singing Georgian national songs, gave me precious memories that cannot be replaced with anything!
Recently, World Link introduced a new opportunity for its’ exchange students called Melting Pot. We are assigned to discuss diversity issues we have seen in our home country and to share the experiences we have had in America to help solve our home country issue.
This competition had a huge impact on me because now I know what I exactly want to do when I go back to my country. I know how I can take my part in improving my country and on what issues I should focus on.
The competition made me remember all the wonderful periods I had in America, recall the new things I learned. It made me start thinking about sharing and using my experiences to help my country be more accepting of new ways to solve certain problems.
As much as I miss my country and my family, I cannot bear a thought of leaving my second family and my friends here. I know leaving the life I’ve lived for one year to go back to my home country will not be easy, but I also know that no one can take the memories and experiences I’ve gained and the personal growth I made through exploring myself.
There have been many challenges I have overcome on the journey of this exchange year so far, but I know these challenges and difficulties made me grow, learn and explore more of myself and the world.
They made me think of what kind of person I want to be in the future and what should be the biggest values in my life. I learned to focus on little things and experience every second of my life. Live to share love, kindness, and support because that is what the world needs the most now.
I am a common girl with a dream, ready to become a woman with