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November 22, 2013

Living her American dream

THOMASVILLE — An exchange student at Thomas County Central High School is making the most of her opportunity and is motivated to serve her host community.

Aikhanym Zhanibek — “Hanna” is her American nickname — is a junior spending the year at Central, thanks to the Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX). She is from Kazakhstan and was selected to study in Thomasville through the ASSE placement organization.

“In my childhood, I watched many American films about American culture,” she said. “It was my dream to come to America. Being an exchange student gives me many opportunities to experience American culture, make friends and experience the American education system.”

Zhanibek, 16, won a full scholarship to study in America for one year from FLEX. The application process included a personal information form, a written test to gage the applicant’s knowledge of the English language, and a formal interview.

A FLEX program requirement is for the student to have 50 hours of community service.

“But, if I do more than 100 hours, I’ll get a certificate and medal from Mr. (Barack) Obama,” Zhanibek said.

She began collecting her community service hours in September. She currently holds 48 hours and has until April 2014 to meet her goal of more than 100.

“America gives me an opportunity to get more than 100 hours,” she said.

See Saturday's edition for more details.

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