Feb. 14, 2013
Exchanging sets up for success Tiera Joseph ’14 Staff Writer A Kamchatka, Russia, native, Marina Oreshkina knows she’s only in the states for a limited time, but she’s making the best of it. When Oreshkina applied for the Future Leaders Exchange Program in September 2011, she didn’t know she was going to be picked. The FLEX program is a gateway for students of the former Soviet Union to come to the United States as foreign exchange students. Those students must undergo three levels of testing which increase in difficulty. Students who receive the highest scores are selected for the foreign exchange program. “It was all pretty difficult, but out of 150 participants, only three made it through,” Oreshkina said. She received official notification in March 2012. “I was really blessed. We waited for almost half a year,” she said. Although everything was set, the road ahead still seemed foggy. “I was just put here like a [test] rabbit,” Oreshkina said. She had no idea what state, what family, let alone what school she would attend. “I didn’t choose
anything,” she said. Once Oreshkina met with her host family, the Andersons whose two sons attend Rising Starr Middle, she enrolled in the Fayette County district through the ASSE International Student Exchange Program. She experienced a huge culture shock for the first few months. For one thing, the school day was an hour longer and the student-teacher relationship was much more relaxed. “Back home that is strictly formal,” she said. Things were getting better, but every once in a while “no one understands me sometimes and since I’m not fluent, I often get lost and it’s hard to explain that I’m lost,” Oreshkina said. However, all that changed in November of 2012 when she began spotting Miss Starr’s Mill posters outside the school cafeteria. She was unaware of the pageant’s scholarship portion and thought it was a regular beauty pageant. “In Russia I would never have an opportunity like this one,” Oreshkina said. “Beauty pageants are centered mainly on beauty, swimwear and poise, not talent. I wanted to show my personality.” Oreshkina did just that in her hip hop dance routine. To a medley of songs, she remixed her Russian dance group’s choreog-
Russian foreign exchange student Marina Oreshkina performs a hip-hop style dance for her talent. raphy to fit a solo act. The scholarship pageant also gave Oreshkina an opportunity to meet new friends and build relationships. They helped her pick out her dress, shoes and prepare her for the on-stage interview. When Oreshkina returns to Kamchatka, she plans to apply what she learned here in the states. She’d like to introduce the idea of a yearbook and run for class president.
Junior Marina Oreshkina shows the judges her style during the casual wear portion of the Miss Starr’s Mill Scholarship Pageant.