GENEVA — Every morning Yekaterina “Kate” Kovshikova, Vladislav “Vlad” Dmitriyevich and Matluba Turekulova wake up to a far different world than they ever imagined before. All three are exchange students at Geneva High School and are sponsored by the organization Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX ). Kate is from the northern Russia province of Vologda, Vlad is from a town in southern Russia called Oktyabrskiy and Matluba is from Kazakhstan.
These three students went through a very long and extensive process to be accepted in to the FLEX program before they could enroll at GHS. To be selected to the program they endured a whirlwind process where they were required to: pass an English test, take a 140-question academic test, write three essays in 35 minutes, participate in personal interviews, participate in group interviews to demonstrate social skills, fill out personal forms, and write letters to their possible host families.
The Steven Robinson family is Kate’s host for this school year. She has a younger middle school sister, Elizabeth, and an older sister, Julia. In Russia Kate lives with her mother Olga, who is a judge, so having siblings is something new for Kate.
Kate reveals that high school in Geneva is very different from her school in Russia. She has been grouped with the same very small group of 10 to 12 students since elementary school. Another major difference is school attire. While students here dress very casually, in Russia all girls wear black skirts, white shirts, but never yoga pants, Kate said. She is also surprised about the number of students who drive to GHS every day.
“No one can get a driver’s license until they are 18,” Kate said. “Also, there are no school buses, so we either ride public transportation or walk.”
Another huge difference in the educational systems is the nature and attitudes of the teachers. Kate said that our teachers are kinder, more patient, and care about helping their students succeed.