“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” ― Aristotle. With this adage in mind, the FLEX-Ability Workshop on Leadership commenced. From May 9-12, 57 FLEX alumni from Azerbaijan, Moldova, Poland, Romania, and Ukraine, along with a FLEX Abroad alumnus who spent his exchange year in Poland, attended the FLEX-Ability Workshop on Leadership in Warsaw, Poland. Global Educator Si Norton led interactive sessions on personal leadership development with a team of five senior FLEX alumni mentors from participating countries.   

Through training sessions, teambuilding activities, and small-group work, participants explored their purpose, values, goals, and direction to create personal “journeys” – presentations of where they were in the past, where they are now, where they hope to be, and how they plan to get there. As they prepared their projects, participants also learned about presence, attention, personal strengths, identity, time management, goals, resilience, wellness, organization, and more.   

According to Norton, “Vision is the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination and wisdom.” Using a variety of approaches, from posters to traditional art to interactive media, participants created a diverse gallery of journeys that highlighted the unique path and life vision of each participant. On the final day, participants walked through the gallery and self-reflected on each journey. After the initial walk-through, each mentor’s group presented to a small group of other participants, explaining their projects and answering questions.   

In addition to the main topic, participants enjoyed a cultural evening filled with traditional dances and local snacks brought by participants from their home countries. Participants from each country had a chance to teach their dance to a small group and perform for the whole, ending with all participants learning a traditional Polish dance. Participants also tried traditional Polish cuisine and experienced an extensive tour of Warsaw and photo scavenger hunt led by local alumni volunteers. On the last day, the group celebrated the 30th anniversary of the FLEX program in a reception, complete with FLEX trivia and FLEX cupcakes. 

Reflecting on the workshop as a whole, one participant shared, “The experience fostered a deeper connection with fellow alumni, creating a strong sense of community. Plus, it helped me realign with my values and future goals, boosting my confidence in navigating personal and professional success.” 

Participant post-workshop evaluation survey results were overwhelmingly positive, with 95% expressing a high level of satisfaction with the content and organization of the workshop. “This event has helped me feel more connected to the FLEX community and shown me the various opportunities it offers,” reflected one participant from Ukraine. “Interacting with highly educated and motivated young people has inspired me to apply the knowledge I gained in the workshop to benefit my local community and home country.”  

Armed with new skills and knowledge, participants returned to their home communities to organize projects that utilize and share what they learned at the workshop. These projects will be implemented throughout the summer and will aim to develop the leadership and goal-setting skills of those who participate.  

We can’t wait to see the impact the participants will have on their communities and thank all participants, mentors, trainers, and staff for a memorable and successful workshop!   

*This workshop was funded by the Department of State Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs and implemented by American Councils for International Education through the FLEX Program. 


Alumni Mentors: 

Alexandru-Vlad Murzac ’17 (Chisinau, Moldova, placed by PAX in Merrillville, IN)

Anna Romandash ’09 (Lviv, Ukraine, placed by PAX in Mellette, SD)  

Diana Kepa ’17 (Warsaw, Poland, placed by Greenheart Exchange in Homedale, ID) 

Lisa Glybchenko ’13 (Kyiv, Ukraine, placed by World Link in Colorado Springs, CO) 

Turgut Mustafayev ’97 (Baku, Azerbaijan, placed by YFU in Chico, CA)  


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