FLEX (Formerly A-SMYLE) Application Information

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Information about FLEX program in local languages:

  SR/CG Magyar  Shqip


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Testing schedule for Montenegro and Serbia for the Program Year 2019/20
 (the 2020/2021 schedule will be announced September 2019) 


“…they add so much to our community, exposing our local students to places they have only dreamed of someday visiting, cultures they had no idea were different from theirs. The best part is, I love these students as much as my own. They steal my heart, and never give it back. I love when they come back to visit, and when I hear from them about their accomplishments, like finishing college, and what they are doing with their lives as adults.”
-Host parent of a FLEX student

“I can tell as her mother how much she changed and developed as a person. She seems more responsible and mature. She had the opportunity to explore another culture by actually living with a host family, experiencing a typical American teenager life. FLEX not only helped her to grow as a young adult, but also I can see how American culture feels. Parents are concerned about the safety of their child in an unknown family overseas, but the host families and staff from FLEX and American Councils are extremely supportive and prompt. FLEX program was the best thing that happened to my daughter.”
-Parent of a FLEX student

“I will never forget this year full of experience, especially my amazing host family…They met me not as a stranger, but with a smile on their faces. I am one of the happiest people in the world, because I have another MOM in addition to my natural MOM. I am really grateful for FLEX and U.S. State Department for giving me this chance to make friends from all over the world and learn their cultures.”
– Georgia alumna
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SR Brochure FLEX timeless (SR FINALl ADJUSTED AUGUST 2016)What is the FLEX program?
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In 1992, then-U.S. Senator Bill Bradley cosponsored, together with U.S. Congressman Jim Leach, the historic legislation providing for the FLEX program. Funding was approved by the United States Congress to extend a hand of friendship from the people of the United States of America to
the people of the countries of the former Soviet Union, and has since expanded to other countries.

FLEX is fully funded by the United States government and administered by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State. The program provides competitively selected secondary school students with a scholarship to spend a year living in the U.S. with a volunteer host family, attending a U.S. high school to foster understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries around the world.

The FLEX program is supported at the local level by thousands of U.S. citizens and local secondary schools that host, educate, and support students with no financial compensation. Now in its 26th year, the FLEX academic year program has provided scholarships to over 27,000 secondary school students. In 2018-19, 922 students are studying in the U.S. on the FLEX program.
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Who organizes the program?
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American Councils for International Education organizes recruitment, selection, orientation, and travel arrangements for the FLEX program. Founded in 1974, American Councils is an international non-profit organization working to improve mutual understanding between countries,
exchange ideas among individuals, and enhance collaboration through education. For over 40 years, American Councils has been designing,
implementing, and supporting innovative programs in the United States, Europe, Eurasia, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa for tens of thousands
of participants. These include several U.S. government programs for secondary school students (besides FLEX), university and graduate
students, teachers, and professors.

Many other private, non-profit organizations in the United States also support the FLEX program. The U.S. government has asked these organizations to place FLEX participants in supportive U.S. host families and to organize local activities during the year-long program.
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What does the scholarship provide?
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The FLEX scholarship provides the following:
• Round-trip domestic and international travel (from home to the United States and back)
• Monthly allowance to help students participate in social activities and buy necessary personal supplies
• Placement with a selected and screened U.S. host family for one year
• Enrollment in a U.S. secondary school
• Program orientation activities including pre-program preparation and re-entry preparation
• Program activities arranged in local U.S. communities
• Medical insurance, excluding pre-existing conditions and dental care
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What is NOT provided?
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The FLEX scholarship does NOT cover the following costs:
• Any costs associated with receiving an international passport.
• Personal expenses not covered by the monthly stipend.
• Excess baggage costs, phone bills, or internet use.
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SR Brochure FLEX timeless (SR FINALl ADJUSTED AUGUST 2016)Who is eligible to apply for the program?
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The FLEX scholarship competition is merit-based and open, at no cost,
to applicants who meet the following requirements. Students with
disabilities are invited to participate in the competition. FLEX finalists
include approximately 20 students with disabilities each year. Selected
students with disabilities meet the same criteria as other participants in
the program. Students may only apply once to the program during a
given recruitment cycle.

Eligible applicants for 2019/20 school year must:

  1. Be in 1st or 2nd grade of high school AND born 1 January 2002-15 July 2004 (students with disabilities can be older)
  2. Be enrolled in a secondary school at the time of application
  3. Have an academic standing of good or better
  4. Have previously studied English and demonstrate English language ability at the time of registration
  5. Not have graduated from secondary school prior to the program start date.
  6. Meet U.S. visa eligibility requirements
  7. Be a citizen of Montenegro or Serbia and able to receive an international passport in the country where they apply to the program

Students with disabilities in Montenegro or Serbia must be enrolled in secondary school in the fall of 2018 and be born between February 15, 2001 and July 15, 2004.
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Who is not eligible?
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A student is ineligible to apply if:
• S/he does not meet criteria 1-7
• S/he has stayed in the U.S. for three (3) months or more during the past five (5) years
• His/her family (or member of family):
○ Applied or is applying to emigrate to the U.S.
○ Made plans to emigrate or has already emigrated to the U.S.
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Untitled-1When and how can I apply?
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Representatives of American Councils will visit the regions within the participating countries to conduct testing during fall 2018. Applicants should come to the designated testing center at the time of initial registration and bring proof of eligibility (birth certificate), one recent 3×4 cm photo, and a pen. Applicants may only participate in round 1 testing at ONE test center in fall 2018.

All applicants will take a short English test (round 1). Those who pass the first test will write a composition in English (round 2, which usually occurs on the day after round 1). There is not pre-registration for the testing, the registration and first test happen on the date and at a location listed for a certain city.

Candidates must successfully complete the first two rounds of the competition before they receive final application materials, take a longer English language proficiency test, and are interviewed.

Registration with American Councils staff in all testing centers starts at 8:30 AM and ends at 11 AM on the testing day. Pre-registration does not exist. Bring a black pen, a 3X4 size photo and an ID or passport or đačka knjižica.

2019 (program year 2020-2021) testing dates (times and locations to be announced throughout July and August 2019):

Serbia:

Novi Pazar
Zaječar
Užice
Vranje
Niš
Jagodina
Kragujevac
Novi Sad
Belgrade


Montenegro:

Berane
Podgorica

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How does the testing and selection process work?
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Students compete in several rounds of competition. At the semi-finalist stage, students and their parents are invited to attend an informational meeting to learn more about the program. Students then take part in an individual interview with American Councils staff, take a standardized test of English, write two more proctored essays, and receive the official program application, which is due to the local American Councils office within two weeks.

Selection will be based on merit and demonstrated preparedness for a year-long exchange experience as evidenced in students’ comprehensive
applications. English-language proficiency is important, but it is not the sole element in selection. Students also will be required to provide medical evaluations and be certified as medically fit to participate in the program.

The selection process will be completed in spring, and all applicants will receive notification of their status by mid-May. Selected finalists will attend a pre-departure orientation in their home country in June-July and travel to the U.S in July-August. Students return home the following May-June. FLEX students must return to their home country at the end of the program, on the date assigned by American Councils. The U.S. visa issued for program participants will not be amended or extended beyond the program end date for any reason.
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SR Brochure FLEX timeless (SR FINALl ADJUSTED AUGUST 2016)9

How will I benefit from the exchange experience?
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The FLEX program offers students an opportunity to learn about the people and culture of the United States. FLEX participants are also young ambassadors who teach Americans about the people and culture of their countries. Students gain an appreciation for and develop sensitivity to other cultures, experience personal growth and independence, and become better prepared for an increasingly interdependent world. Students form strong ties with their American host families and U.S. communities, building relationships that often last a lifetime. Many alumni attend prestigious universities upon their return home, and later find exciting jobs that use skills learned during their stay in the United States.
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What should you consider before applying to FLEX?
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Students who are interested in this program should consider the possible negative effects of this program:
• Will I have to repeat a year of school after returning home?
• Will I be home too late in 2020 to take final school examinations/university/institute entrance examinations? FLEX students return to their communities in late May and June.
• Will my university or institute defer my admission if I have already been accepted?
• Will I be required to serve in the military upon return?
• Will I be eligible to graduate with honors/receive a gold medal at my home school?
Finally, although students attend a U.S. high school, the curriculum is substantially different from that in other countries, and likely you will not learn the same subject material.
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Where can I get more information?
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For students from Serbia:
belgrade@americancouncilssee.org
tel: +381 11 32 45 905
Facebook: FLEX Serbia
Website: www.ac-see.org
Working hours:
Monday – Friday
10-17h

For students from Montenegro:
podgorica@americancouncilssee.org
tel: +382 67 562 121
Facebook: FLEX Montenegro
Website: www.ac-see.org
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