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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2001 > November
Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
November 21, 2001

Russian Exchange Students Observe Presidents Bush and Putin in Action During Crawford Summit


Seven Russian exchange students during last weekís Presidential Summit were photographed with President George W. Bush and President Vladimir Putin at a public event at Crawford Junior/Senior High School in Crawford, Texas. The State Departmentís Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is sponsoring the students under the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) program.

"The FLEX students reflect the Bureauís dedicated public diplomacy efforts over the past decade to forge closer ties between the United States and Russia," said Patricia S. Harrison, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs. "The students embody the spirit and letter of the historic summit between the two presidents."

The Russian FLEX students (see attached list) sat next to Mrs. Bush and Mrs. Putin at a town hall-style event on November 15 where the two presidents took questions from high school students and other members of the Crawford community. Afterwards, the FLEX students were photographed with both presidents. One student, Svetlana Mordasova of Voronezh, summarized the groupís perspective on their experience in this way: "Our group of FLEX exchange students brought to this summit a special feeling of unity and understanding not only between Presidents but also between teenagers and Presidents."

Throughout the Crawford Summit, the FLEX students worked as volunteers in the media center set up at Baylor University in Waco to support foreign press covering the event. The students also met with their American counterparts at Crawford Junior/Senior High School last Wednesday morning to share their perspectives on a variety of subjects. Dmitri Kapitonov of Tula observed, "I think that Russia and America are getting closer and closer together. In the last decade we made a great leap from the cold war to peace and friendship. And now when we see both presidents of the former enemy countries together we come to realize that our future is safer than it used to be."

The seven Russian students are among 1,200 students from 12 countries of the former Soviet Union who were selected in an open, merit-based competition to spend an academic year in the United States living with a host family and attending school. There are currently 126 FLEX students in Texas.

The goal of the FLEX program is to enable the students to learn about American society and values so that they may assist in the transformation of their countries when they return home. The program provides a mutual exchange experience as visiting students also inform Americans about their cultures and perspectives. There are over 10,000 alumni of the FLEX program, many of whom are active in alumni associations.

Please go to http://exchanges.state.gov/education/citizens/students/flex.htm for further information.

Media Contact: Catherine Stearns, phone (202)-203-5107, e-mail cstearns@pd.state.gov.

The FLEX Students

Maria Anatolievna Vasulkova, Kaliningrad (Willspoint, TX)
Maria was written up in the Wills Point Chronicle twice (September 14 and 21, 2001) for her significant volunteer efforts in collecting much-needed items for the American Red Cross. The items collected were distributed to the families and children who lost loved ones in the September 11 terrorist attacks. Items collected included: 135 shirts, 73 pairs of pants, 19 gallons of water, 23 blankets, 18 pairs of work gloves, 80 workers masks, 517 cans of food, 7 jackets, and 16 items such as socks and undershirts. Maria is attending Wills Point High School.

Timur Fiagimovich Kurmaev, Samara (Alvarado, TX)
Timur is 15 years old and attends Alvarado High School. His interests include computers, basketball, and the drama club. Timur has participated in a community service project painting homes for low-income families in Fort Worth and working at a hospitality house for inmate children. Timur won first place in a foreign language Olympiad and 2nd place in a mathematics Olympiad in his home country. He wants to be an interpreter and work in the tourism industry. Although he is a Muslim, Timur is attending a Christian church in America.

Alexander Yevgenyevich Mairin, Cheboksary (Buffalo, TX)
Alexander is an avid reader whose favorite subjects are history and pre-calculus math. He is also enjoying his HTML class and wants to learn more about computers and creating websites. As part of his schoolís athletic program, Alexander has participated in cross-country running meets and plans to participate in the track program. He has been actively involved in the elementary tutoring program hosted by a local church and enjoys working with the children because "itís exciting to give something to people and to help them". Alexander attends Buffalo High School.

Natalia Viktorovna Smirnova, Pos. Gorny (Buffalo, TX)
Natalia is very involved in school and outside volunteer activities within her host community. When speaking of her volunteer work with elementary school children, she said, "One child became excited because she had to write a story and began a vivid tale that I thought I was going to have to help her with, but she did beautifully." Natalia and her host mother volunteered their face painting talents at a fund-raiser that benefited relief organizations in New York working with the families affected by the World Trade Center terrorist attacks. In addition to displaying her artistic skills, Natalia is interested in trying out for a part in an upcoming spring theater production at her school. She attends Buffalo High School.

Dmitri Yurievich Kapitonov, Tula (Copper Canyon, TX)
Dmitri is attending Marcus High School in Flower Mound, Texas. He served as the girlsí volleyball team manager; the team made it to district play-offs. Dmitri will be making presentations about his country to various clubs and organizations. He enjoys art and computers and would like to become a designer.

Svetlana Sergeevna Mordasova, Voronezh (Dallas, TX)
Svetlana is attending Woodrow Wilson High School, where she is a straight "A" student. She is a member of a jazz dance team at her school. Svetlana enjoys dance and theater and hopes to become an English teacher.

Anastasia Andreevna Proconich (Fort Worth, TX)
Anastasia is attending North Crowley High School. 

Released on November 21, 2001

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