New biographical information has just become available.
Alexander Chase Flanagan, 18 years old, is a freshman studying business administration and Japanese at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He plans on specializing in operations management and working internationally in renewable energy and environmental conservation.Alex is an avid piano and trumpet player. He also plays drum set and is in the Golden Buffalo Marching Band at CU. He is also in the process of auditioning for the Phantom Regiment, a professional Drum Core group based out of Rockford, IL. Additionally, he has a deep appreciation of many forms of artwork.
Born in Sandy Springs, Georgia, to Kimberly and Stephen Flanagan, Alex has an olderbrother Asher who is currently in his third year studying physics at Furman University in South Carolina. He also considers Louis Galli, the exchange student from Bordeaux, France who spent the year hosted by Sandy Springs Rotary as his younger adoptive brother. Thanks to Rotary, the Gallis and Flanagans have become a part of each other’s extended family.
Alex’s journey with Japanese began with taking the language in 6th grade at Ridgeview Charter Middle School and continued with Honors Japanese for the next 5 years at Riverwood International Charter School.His passion is studying foreign language, as it builds meaningful global connections. Because of his studies in Japanese, he has been able to form relationships with people he never would have been able to without a shared language, and this is something truly invaluable to him. He will begin the study of his third language this spring at Boulder, and will travel with the business school to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in March.
Alex was was first introduced to the wonderful Mike Parks, District 6900 Youth Exchange Chairman through his desire to live abroad. Mike introduced Alex to the program, and has been Alex’s mentor ever since. He is also responsible for starting the RYE program up in Georgia. One year later, Alex was on the plane to Japan, thanks to Mike.
The spring of his junior year, however, a lot of things changed. He overcame some mental challenges and was able to self reflect on his own happiness and come to a new perspective, affecting him and everyone around him. He came out as transgender in the spring of 2017, changing his name to Alex and his pronouns to he/him. He considers himself extremely lucky to have an amazing, supportive family, and they began making the change of calling him Alex and he/him. His journey transitioning had just only began, and he would continue that journey on the other side of the world.
From August of 2017 to June of 2018, he lived in the prefecture just north of Tokyo, called Saitama, but went to school in Shibuya, Tokyo. He had 4 host families over the course of his exchange year, all very different from one another. He had a million unforgettable experiences and learned not just about Japanese culture, but about himself, too.
In the summer of 2018, after returning from Japan, he was able to begin his medical transition, complimenting his social transition. He began what is known as HRT, or Hormone Replacement Therapy, which helped him tremendously to feel more in his own skin. He recently underwent gender affirmation surgery, a double mastectomy, and has come incredibly far in just 6 months of medical transition.
He prides himself most on not only learning to thrive in another society and culture that many consider polar opposite of our own, but doing so as a transgender male. He considers his greatest accomplishment to be his successful journey of finding himself and embracing it, knocking down barriers on the other side of the world in the process. He hopes to continue to do that for the rest of his life.