November 2019, Vol. XXV, No. 3

Article Index

 

4) Students of the Month

Each month, PAX's Sponsored Programs Department identifies one extraordinary Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) and Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program student respectively. These standout students become PAX's official nominations for the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs' "Student of the Month" award.

YES November Nominee

Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study YES Program student from Pakistan holding "Don't quit your daydream" sign

PAX is excited to nominate Tilyan Aslam, an exchange student from Pakistan, studying in Indianapolis, IN, to be November’s YES Student of the Month.

Tilyan has embraced and maximized every opportunity available to her in such a short period of time. She has really immersed herself in the cultural exchange experience within her host family. Together, they have participated in many local events and activities. She is excited to learn about American culture and enjoys sharing her Pakistani heritage.

As an ambassador of her country, Tilyan has been a positive force, exuding acceptance of and enthusiasm for cultural differences, recognizing and conveying that we are all people regardless of those differences. 

Tilyan was featured in PAX Press and was selected for an online interview about her exchange year thus far to be shared on a news channel in Pakistan.

Her host family is impressed by Tilyan's determination and is supportive of her initiative to break stereotypes. During Eid, her host family took Tilyan to a Pakistani restaurant to share traditional food and the entire family wore Pakistani traditional clothing. Together, they attended an international festival also in traditional Pakistani wear to support cultural diversity. Her host family loves her, and she loves them!

Additionally, Tilyan has shown substantial initiative in becoming involved in her local community. By October, she had already completed more than 60 hours of volunteer service. Tilyan volunteers at her host family's church (child care) and at Southport Public Library by arranging and checking books. She is also actively engaged in her local Key Club and joined the Young Women in Leadership Group in Indianapolis, which focuses on improving leadership skills and growth opportunities for young women.

Tilyan is taking a full course load of classes and is doing very well in school. She is even taking some elective courses, including speech, piano, and journalism. Tilyan also won a speech contest in her class.

In school, she has become actively engaged in many clubs, including: Key Club, Speech Club, and Debate Club. She is well liked by her friends and teachers, and she is determined to experience the most that she can, with regard to American lifestyle and culture, during her exchange year. She is also determined to share her culture. She already gave a presentation on Pakistani Independence Day.

Tilyan is a model exchange student and a wonderful representative of Pakistan, the YES program, and of PAX as an organization. It is with great enthusiasm that we nominate Tilyan Aslam for YES Student of the Month, November 2019.

—The PAX Sponsored Team

FLEX November Nominee

Teenage girl from Kyrgyzstan pulling girl on wagon at U.S. volunteer activity

It is with great enthusiasm that PAX nominates Stamgul Orunbaeva from Kyrgyzstan, studying in Springfield, VT to be FLEX Student of the Month, November 2019.

Stamgul has seamlessly blended with her host family and is considered a family member herself. She stepped right into her role of big sister with enthusiasm and is wonderfully engaging with her younger sister. She often organizes activities for the two of them, including walks outside and movie nights. Stamgul has also developed a special bond with her host mother. Both avid readers, they share a similar taste in books and enjoy talking about literature and books they have read together.

Stamgul is a stellar member of her high school community. With several elective and advanced courses, including Calculus, Public Speaking and Debate, Information Technology, and Psychology, she has a demanding course load. In addition to this, she has also joined her school’s cheerleading team. She had never been on a cheerleading team before so at first was very nervous to cheer in front of the school. But she has overcome that fear. The cheer team is active not only at traditional sporting events, but also throughout the school for spirit activities.

Stamgul has enthusiastically immersed herself in her local community. She uses local volunteer opportunities to engage with her community and learn more about the American way of life. Stamgul has already completed 46 hours of volunteer service in her local community and has the very ambitious goal of completing 100 hours by Christmas! Her volunteer work has included a river cleanup, working with younger students in after school program All4One, planting flowers in front of her school, and organizing and working at a steampunk festival. She has also volunteered to be a speaker at a local elementary school’s “World Cultures” program.

Additionally, just last month Stamgul participated in New England’s first ever Epilepsy Foundation walk, where they raised money and awareness for epilepsy—a cause very close to her host family’s hearts. Stamgul says, “I was glad to be there and support my host family! We walked 2.6 miles [on] the rail track… It was really fun and also informative!”

Stamgul has embodied the mission of the exchange experience, and she has been a fantastic representative of Kyrgyzstan, the FLEX program, and of PAX. We are thrilled she is having a great experience. “I have been having an incredible time with my lovely host family and host community!” says Stamgul. “Thank you PAX, FLEX and the U.S. Government for this opportunity”.

—The PAX Sponsored Team