International Education Week is an initiative aimed at highlighting the benefits of international exchange and exchange. It is an annual event held in November where people can share their culture with others, celebrate diversity, and widen their horizons through exploring what is beyond their borders. Every year FLEX alumni from all around the world celebrate the week, and in 2020 a group of alumni in Poland organized a series of webinars to provide high school and university students with information on international education opportunities and exchange programs.

Two webinars were dedicated to innovative universities that offer robust international education opportunities.  The first presentation highlighted the Minerva Schools at KGI (Keck Graduate Institute), a university program, which allows students to obtain their education at campuses in seven cities around the world. Patrycja Wierzchałek ’17 (Rzeszów, Poland/Crane, MT) and Błażej Mosiński ’17 (Zelgoszcz, Poland/Huxley, IA), both students in the program, presented it and how they have benefited from the unique international education experience. They informed participants about the basics of the program, including what the recruitment process looks like and how the courses are formatted. The presentation was followed by a Q&A session. Many participants asked a lot of questions and expressed that they were inspired by the event to apply for the program.

The second webinar presented New York University Abu Dhabi, a university that prides itself on providing a multicultural community, high level of education, and international professional development opportunities for its students. Anna Rygielska ’18 (Marcinkowice, Poland/Savannah, GA) and Barbara Ciosk ’17 (Radomsko, Poland/Highland, UT), current students at the school, led the webinar by painting a picture for the participants of what it’s like to be a student there. They talked about campus life, different departments and courses, and financial aid available to prospective students.

Alumni organized two webinars aimed at giving participants a taste of American culture. Martyna Olkiewicz ’20 (Wielkopolski, Poland/Joshua, TX), Olga Jagiełłowicz ’20 (Kolobrzeg, Poland/Monument, CO), and Mateusz Szostek ’20 (Konczyce Male, Poland/Seguin, TX) gave an interactive presentation, which included videos and games, to share their experiences with American culture that they experienced while on the FLEX program. To end the webinar, they played a virtual trivia game, and the top three winners were awarded FLEX swag provided by American Councils.

On the final day of the webinar series, Fryderyk Sitnik ’18 (Jozefow, Poland/Araphoe, NE) led a webinar on TeenCrunch, a project he started to connect experienced business professionals with those just starting their career. In his presentation he outlined the history of the project, including the obstacles he had to overcome, which provided the participants with an example of how hard work and determination can make dreams come true. At the end of the session, he encouraged everyone to participate in the next edition of the program.

This series of webinars put on by FLEX alumni in Poland to celebrate International Education Week was a huge success. Nearly 50 people participated in each of the events, and some attended every webinar.  The guest speakers shared a plethora of interesting facts and stories, igniting a spark of curiosity within the members of their audience. They highlighted programs and initiatives dear to their hearts, which serve international education and strive to create a deeper understanding between cultures.

Written by Alicja Urbańczyk ’20 (Gdynia, Poland/Charles Town, WV)

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