Do students with disabilities really become FLEX finalists?
FLEX accepts many students with disabilities, and a significant number of those who participate in the competition go on to become finalists. It is never easy to try something new, especially something as big as spending a year away from your family and friends. This may be even harder if you are not confident in your language skills and ability to do things independently. Based on alumni experiences it is worth taking the chance. The benefits are endless, even if the first step is the hardest.
What if my English is not strong enough?
If you are accepted into FLEX and your English skills are still developing, there are two opportunities to help you:
- You might be assigned to take part in American Councils’ Moldova English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Camp, in Chisinau.
- You might be designated as a Language Program FLEX student, meaning that your Placement Organization will provide no fewer than 15 days of intensive instruction in English in the U.S., before your U.S. school starts.
If I need medical care in the U.S., who will pay for it?
The FLEX program provides all finalists with program insurance that covers medical emergencies. FLEX is not a medical treatment program, and does not provide for consultations, treatments, or surgeries.
I require special accommodations to take tests at school. Can FLEX help me?
All students who apply to the FLEX program regardless of physical ability or disability go through the same testing process. However, adapted tests (Braille, enlarged, etc.) are available and can be used to allow anyone to be tested. As long as a candidate is able to communicate in English (spoken, written, etc.), FLEX is able to accommodate them. Feel free to contact your local FLEX office to get more details on how you can be accommodated.
I have never traveled without my parents before and they accompany me everywhere to help me. What will happen if I become a finalist and go to America?
All FLEX participants fly from their home countries to the United States in groups with a FLEX program representative who can assist you on the international flight. In the United States all students with disabilities will first travel to MIUSA, in Oregon which is an organization that specializes in helping people with disabilities and can provide advice on how to do these things in the US by yourself or with the help of your host family.
How can I register my child to participate in FLEX?
Registering for FLEX is easy and there is no need to do it in advance of the Round 1 testing day. To register simply come to your testing center at the appointed time with your original Georgian passport/ID or birth certificate (original), a passport sized photo and a pen. Nothing else is needed. All students who are eligible and who come with the necessary documentation will be registered and tested.
My child holds citizenship in Georgia and another country. Can he/she participate?
Generally anyone meeting eligibility criteria who holds a passport of the country where testing takes place may participate in Round 1. In order to become a finalist for the program you must be eligible to receive a U.S. visa. Therefore, anyone holding dual citizenship in the United States and another county would not be eligible.
When will FLEX testing take place in my region?
FLEX Round 1 testing takes place between September and November of every year. FLEX tests in eleven different cities in Georgia. This number is subject to change and it is a good idea to check the FLEX website (frequently, starting in very early September) to see when Round 1 will come to your region.
If I do not pass in one city can my child participate in another region?
No. Each child may only participate in FLEX testing one time per year.
How much English does my child need to participate?
FLEX is not a language program. Finalists are selected more because they have demonstrated an ability to adapt and thrive in a new environment rather than on their language skills. Participants are tested in their knowledge of the English language because knowledge of spoken and written English will be necessary if students are to successfully participate in school and home life in the U.S. If the student has demonstrated characteristics that make him/her suitable to become a finalist, but that student’s level of English is not sufficient, that person may receive supplemental language instruction.
How many rounds of testing are there?
FLEX selection consists of three rounds. Round 1, held in early-mid autumn, consists of a fifteen minute multiple choice English language test. Round 2, usually held the day after Round 1, consists of three short essays to be written in English and a short application. The essays are graded strictly on content, not grammar or usage of English. Round 3, generally held four to six weeks later, consists of a standardized English language test, two short essays to be written in English, a longer application and an interview.
When are the results of each round announced?
The results of Round 1 are generally announced the evening of the day of the Round 1 test. In very few test centers this will not be the case, but the American Councils representative will always inform you when and where the results will be posted. The results of Round 2 are generally announced about three to six weeks after Round 2 testing. All students invited to Round 3 will receive a phone call. It is not necessary to call the American Councils office. The results of Round 3 are generally announced in the spring. All FLEX finalists and alternative candidates will receive a phone call from American Councils. Please do not call and ask.
Is there a way to prepare for FLEX testing? Are there courses to prepare for the testing?
Successful FLEX candidates demonstrate an ability of a student to adapt to life in a new environment. A candidate may prepare for the first round of the test by improving his/her English. We recommend the following link:
If I took part in any part of FLEX testing but did not pass, may I see my results to check my mistakes?
No. All FLEX testing material is confidential. You may not check your work or see your results at any stage of FLEX testing.
If my child is chosen as a finalist, can I choose the city, state or school where he/she is sent?
FLEX finalists may be sent to any of the fifty states of the U.S. and are usually sent to suburban areas and rural communities. It is never possible for finalists or their parents to choose where they are sent.
Our family has friends/relatives in the U.S.; would it be possible to be visit them?
FLEX finalists are chosen because we feel they there are suited to adapt in a completely new environment. Being close to someone they are acquainted with would disturb this process of adaptation. All travel within the U.S. must be approved by the student’s placement organization. Only in very rare situations is travel to visit friends or relatives approved.
Can my child stay in the U.S. after finishing FLEX and enroll in an American university?
Participants must return to their home country upon completion of the program in May or June, as per requirements of the J-1 visa, under which FLEX participants travel on the exchange program. Any subsequent travel to the U.S. is decided by the U.S. consulate.
Is there a FLEX program that my child can pay to participate in?
FLEX is a non-profit program. There are not secondary school programs offered by American Councils that students pay to participate in.
My child is seriously training in a certain sport. Is it possible for him/her to be sent to a specialized sport school in the U.S.?
Specialized sport schools, such as they exist in Georgia, are almost unheard of in the U.S. Many American schools, however, have some sport programs and we encourage participants to take part in available extra-curricular activities at school.
My child has a disability; can he/she participate in FLEX?
We encourage students with disabilities to participate in FLEX. We do all that we can to accommodate disabled students at testing and on the program. No one should feel that their impaired movement, hearing, or sight should keep them from trying to participate in the program. Special materials are available to accommodate the needs of students with disabilities.