ACTR 10th Anniversary!
Thank You Letters
Alumni Articles

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Writing letters
Writing letters

At the PDO-2002
At the PDO-2002

Planting Trees
Planting Trees

Happy Valentines Day!
Celebrating St.Valentines Day

Creative Grant-writing
Working on a grant

At the seminar
At the seminar

Openning the Internet Center
Internet Center Openning

Elena Klimenko'95, Krasnodar
Atlanta, GA

Hello from Russia! My name is Elena, I am 24 years old and I want to say 'THANK YOU VERY MUCH' for a wonderful opportunity to participate in the FSA program in 1994-1995! I got very exited when I received the information about my selection. That's what I was looking for such a long time!

My story begins in August of 1994, when I traveled to America to meet with my host family in Atlanta. I was only 16 and I was abroad for the first time in my life. This year had changed everything for me. I discovered myself as an independent, self-confident, responsible and mature young person, and my personality was shaped in large part by my new environment and American culture. I learned to believe in my own abilities and always try new opportunities to discover new friends and exciting offers. In the US I made a lot of friends and my host family became a 'second home' for me; now we all keep in touch, being absolutely sure that one day we will meet again!

One of my favorite experiences in the US was the ten-day Close Up Foundation Program in Washington DC, during which I participated in seminars and meetings with senators and official representatives of American government, furthered my knowledge about democracy and American culture. I got introduced into a community of leaders - people who are different and who want to do something special! American experience helped me to be who I am now; it gave me an invaluable opportunity to realize myself as a Citizen of the World and to share my new vision with other people. It also showed me that there are no limits in reaching your own goals and becoming someone you have always dreamed of. Since then, I believe in lifelong learning, so I am always trying to find new areas of education to explore. The last FSA FLEX alumni activity in which I took part was 'Internet Access Training Program, Project Harmony' in Krasnodar, where I learned how to use many computer programs, surf the Internet and create the website.

After America I started to think seriously about my future career and my decision was to study for BBA degree abroad. Back to Russia I finished my High School. After I was invited to work as an interpreter for one business company. It was a great opportunity for me to raise some money, so I could go for my studies abroad. In 1996 I went to Cyprus, where I began my studies and after five years I graduated with the BBA degree in Hospitality Management from Cyprus College. At present I am working as a manager of one shop in Russia. All my achievements in business and personal life are the results of my life experience gained in America. It had formed my vision of personal success and realization, and greatly influenced my perception of business and personal values. Now I am applying these methods in my everyday life in order to accomplish my plans and aspirations.

I think that FSA program provides an invaluable experience for both - young generation of Russian and American people, thus serving as a base for future development of good relationships and trust between our two counties. I believe that it is extremely important to keep this program running as it helps our mutual understanding of each other and also gives excellent, unlimited opportunities for our personal growth. The key factor, which determines our business success in the future - is not the economy; it is our personal philosophy. Without changing ourselves, we'll always have what we have now.

I believe that the only way to build a normal healthy economy is to create the conditions where everyone can develop his talents and express them to the society and FSA FLEX program is the best way to do it. During their stay in America students have a chance to explore the principals of American democracy, its impact and benefits to the society, they learn more about American culture and lifestyle. There is no better way to learn about new culture, its lifestyle and traditions rather than through its native representatives. After this tremendous and vivid experience they are going to implement this knowledge in their lives, countries, nations.

Besides FSA program is the best way to meet young highly motivated people from all over the world, who are struggling toward their goals and who want to change this world for the best and can help others to do it. This program is not only training its participants as future leaders, it also promotes global thinking and understanding of their intercultural values for better communication. It is an excellent idea to bring smart, flexible, independent, hard-working students from all over the world, who are ready to challenge their lives and are sure to make a difference.

Move up

Artur Atoyan'96, Rostov-na-Donu
Bangor, ME

It was a request addressed to me from my Volgograd ACTR office to write a letter of support for FSA FLEX Program. Nevertheless, I have been always keeping the same thoughts as in this message inside of my heart, my brain, and my soul. You should read it not as one of petitions but more as a revelation.

Thus, almost 9 years ago I learnt about existence of Freedom Support Act Program. I was a school boy and for that time that 'F-S-A' combination seemed just as a striking phrase. And also as a chance for some change and experience for my life I hoped that it would be fun and a good use.

I wasn't lucky in my first try, although I reached the final round. Next year I made another, last possible attempt - and (unexpectedly!) here I am, among those few to go. I felt a destiny sign, and maybe even God's will.

It will take a lot of time and space to describe my year in the US. I just want to stress that at the end of that year I felt no difference between any American and me: I used the same language, the same lifestyle, similar way of thinking and acting. I wasn't missing my home much because I WAS AT HOME in the United States. And it was not just some country for me any more. It was, it IS people, ordinary people like Russians or some other nations else.

You see, watching TV or reading newspapers about 'that Americans' is very contrary to being one of 'that' even for less than a year. The times have changed, but - who knows?! - I could have been in the same situation as Americans feared to appear in while the Cold War: being attacked by my own country with disastrous nuclear weapons in its disposal. I felt this threat with my neurons and skin as I absorbed inside myself one that scared Americans; from then and till now it has become an inseparable part of my 'I'.

Politics? Oh, I wished there were no states in the world, just Earth. But we are reading newspapers and magazines, watching TV, listening to the radio and perceiving what we are told about 'those' - not 'these' - Americans, despite of how good and bad it really is. We are objects in our Russian subjective informational field with all the prejudices, uncertainties and often falsehoods. Especially when our militaries make their speeches about 'fail-safe covering force against offensive American (or NATO - it counts the same) expansion'. Friendly on the surface, our countries remain opposite to each other, like different poles, although they are actually not. Politics, culture, geographical distance, memories of the past - all this contributes to our mutual dissimilarity and sometimes hostility, yet, it is all just a complete illusion and nothing else.

I came to a deep understanding of what I have just stated above only because of my FSA experience. You know, more and more I come to understanding that 'freedom support' is not just a couple of words. For example, a few days ago there was my company's 9th anniversary. There was a famous Russian comic invited to the celebration, and while he was amusing the public he asked a question on the year 2000 presidential election, who voted for whom. That was a sort of funny query but it meant an expression of loyalty to our government and president Putin (the top management of our company for pragmatical reasons stands for president Putin's political platform and for de-facto his party 'United Russia (Edinstvo)' being its members). The great majority of the audience raised their hands for Putin vote (from my side I strongly felt as if many were forced to do so). When the candidate Yavlinski was named only four or five people dared hand-raising. I was among them, although I felt many intent eyes on myself, together with feeling of risking my career. But it was my choice and pride of expressing my civic and democratic values. I have soaked with myself a true understanding of pluralism, democracy and freedom and I won't give anyone a chance to deprive it from me.

I am stating it here and I state the same to everybody around. I am not anymore a 'Soviet' as an obedient and loyal to all kinds of authorities man, I am a free individual, a citizen with a right to chose. This is an essential value I have learnt during less than a year in the United States of America. And although I feel an ugly neo-Soviet reaction trying to rise in my fatherland, I am full of optimism for the future as I know that I am not alone, that hundreds of young willing men like me are ready to take main part in improvement of my land and they are ready to resist any reaction now and in future. The more of us come the more meaningful and powerful we become as ambassadors and defenders of Peace, Freedom, Human Rights and National Tolerance in our country. Believe, these are not high-flown words. It's like a charter from us as FSA alumni: not future, but already present leaders of Russia (i.e. former USSR).

In this letter I could also write about how more purposeful and decisive I have become thanks to FSA Program, how easier it has become to me to live and act since then and how my American experience has been contributing to my studies and, at great extent, to my career. These are my personal achievements that can, of course, contribute to the World Society, but more likely in an indirect way. The value of myself and other alumni, the value of FSA FLEX Program itself is exposed in the paragraphs above. Thanks to the US government, the Senate (my special gratitude to Senator Bill Bradley as the initiator of FSA movement), we - I mean everybody: Russians, Americans, the whole world - have got a priceless opportunity to make our world better, at least on one-sixth part of the land. We cannot stop what was started ten years ago while the threats remain and when our common goal is not reached yet, although for some people it seems that it is reached or efficiency of FSA Program has slowed down a lot. Trust me, it is not true as I am living here, in Russia, and watching after what is really going on.

I hope that someday there will be no need of such an anxiety that I feel and of worries that I undergo. But until that 'someday' we - I still mean not just 'us', I mean everybody - will need such a great instrument of Good Will as Freedom Support Act Future Leaders Exchange Program proved to be.

I state this in written words and I will state the same orally to everybody personally or in public, as much as it is ought to. Please, be careful in evaluating my letter, keeping in mind that it may be not simply a personal address but an appeal of all the FSA FLEX alumni.

Move up

Volgograd Web Tribune - did you read the news?

September 11th

Dear alumni!

We encourage you to write and submit articles to this section. This will help you share your new ideas and thoughts. Other alumni will be reading what you think and this will make them feel different, make them start thinking deeper into the subjects you are raising. There is always something to talk about and this will be great if you can discuss some things that are on your mind or share your experience with other alumni and all the people that will be reading them one day.

Let's speak out and let everybody know what we think!!!