Farhod talks about his time in the U.S. with future FLEX students.

Coming Home to Tajikistan

One of the hardest parts of an exchange program is leaving the U.S. and your host family. I did not believe this until it was time for me to leave. It seemed like everything was over.

You get on the airplane and go back home. You leave the life you created, the friends you made, the opportunities you had, and your host family. It is very hard and painful. When you get home, everything seems different and weird. You feel homesick for the U.S. and your host family. People don’t see the changes in you and think you are the same as you were before. You miss the opportunities you had in USA, like weekends with your host family or friends, extracurricular activities at school, and travels. But, this ending is also a good beginning!

Fortunately, the program is not over! The program is just beginning. You will be welcomed by the alumni community. I call it my FLEX family. There are a lot of opportunities, workshops, and activities. Every time you participate you feel like you are in the USA. You meet other alumni from different programs; you talk to them, share your experiences, and learn something from them.

I am an active alumnus. I’ve been participating in different activities and also organizing them. I got the chance to go to Almaty, Kazakhstan through the CAFAW (Central Asia FLEX Ability Workshop) Program. I learned a lot about how to address a community issue, write a project, and apply for grants. I also got the chance to meet my fellow PAX alumni and some of my friends from EFL camp there. After that program, I applied for a grant and got it. I will implement my project soon. 

We celebrated the 25th anniversary of the FLEX program in my home country and Kazakhstan. There, we met alumni from different years and got the chance to learn from them. The amazing part was when they heard about us being fresh alumni. They came to us and asked many questions about our time in the U.S. Since the FLEX program recruitment was coming up, I had the chance to share my experiences and encourage youth to apply. I gave presentations in eight high schools in two different cities. That was very enjoyable. More than 160 students participated in my presentation. I shared stories about my host family, American high school, PAX, and my travels in general. I believe I will continue to be an active alumnus.

—Farhod (FLEX 2017/18, Tajikistan), hosted by the Mathess family (OH)