Hi, my name is Petros Mkheyan, and I’m World Link exchange student with the FLEX program and I’m from Armenia.
This year just changed my life. When I first came here I was telling to myself that the most important thing to get from this year is the personal growth. And now, at the end of my year, I can say that I achieved my goal. Now I’m a grown person, now I’m a citizen of world. It’s really hard to describe all that I got from this year, there are no words for that, you just have to feel it.
When I first came to the U.S. I was a different person-a shy and a confused guy who appeared in a completely different reality that he was used to. And I was always asking me this question “Why was I one of the few people out of thousands who were chosen to become FLEX finalists?” And after coming to the U.S. and spending some time here I got the answer of my question. Because I had potential. At that time I couldn’t imagine how they managed to see a shy and not so active guy as a future leader. But they saw my potential, they saw a thing that I couldn’t see really well in myself. And I realized it when I started doing projects, getting through school, and getting through everything that came across on my way. Now I changed my potential into a character. Now I’m doing things that I wouldn’t do a year ago. Nothing is easy, everyone had their own difficulties during their year, and now we are near to the finish line, already overcame everything on our way. Now I’m a stronger person, ready for more challenges and seeking for more opportunities.
There’s always a common question asked by a lot of people, “Why we should become an exchange student?” It’s still hard to explain, but we learn a lot from program. Doing assignments at first feels really boring; a big pain, but after a while looking back at those moments I realize more and more how important they were and what I get from them. Project management, volunteering, dealing with different types of people, getting unique solutions and overcoming obstacles in my own way, going for more, never giving up, thinking of others, having fun, being outgoing and so on. We grow every day, we just notice it when we look at our exchange year in a bigger time frame. And of course every single thing that we learned here will be useless if we won’t use them after the program. As a grown person I’m planning to study abroad for my university as I find really important to travel, because we learn more about other people and cultures in that way. And the most important thing is going back and making change in my home community. Change is always hard, for everybody, because people are scared of it and they are thinking it’s safer to be where they’re at. But we always need a positive change, and alumni are a big power, so I’m hoping me and my fellow alumni will be able to make a change and have our contribution in our community’s development.
I’ve done a lot during my exchange year, but I want to mention my GYSD project which both helped a lot to grow and showed me how much I’ve grown prior to that. I was going to organize an event, and for that I needed to talk to a lot of people, and of course some of them let me down and some other things also went wrong. But I managed to get through those and get my project done. I learned how to deal with people, I learned that people are very important and most of the time there’s no way we can do big things alone(though you need to be confident, trust yourself and be a leader), and also that people are not as “scary” as they seem to be. I also realized how important the motivation is, how big impact we have on the people around us, and how big impact they have on us.
I also got an opportunity to go to Washington DC, and it probably was my best week in the entire year. Meeting new people, learning new things and visiting new places. Could not be better than that. I also want to list my trip to Disneyland, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and San Francisco. At first I was scared of roller coasters since I haven’t ridden one before, but now I love them and I think they are one of the best things in America (I love the other rides too). And being in San Francisco and walking on Golden Gate Bridge was a dream that I would never imagine will become true, but now it’s the fact, I walked on Golden Gate!
And of course this amazing experience would not be possible without some people who had very important role in my exchange year and in my growth. There are so many people that I like to thank, that’s why I’ll mention just very few names, but I’m thankful to every single person who was in my life during these months. And special thanks to my host family for opening their house and their hearts to me. Thanks to my coordinator who did her best to help me. I could never dream of a better coordinator, a person who has my trust and love! I also would like to thank my U.S. High School with all its teachers and staff members, World Link national office, American Councils, U.S. Department of State, American Civics Center and others for their huge support and contribution in this life-changing experience.
As I mentioned before, I hope to get my further education abroad. Now I’m full of energy, inspiration and ready for new challenges and trying to find new opportunities. And I hope that one day I will be back to the U.S. so the people who were with me during this year will see how big their impact was on me and who I became due to me exchange year. I want to make a change in the world. But at first it’s very important to change myself. And I almost did that very important step.