The American Councils teams in Macedonia and Serbia were honored to host American Councils president Lorne Craner in Skopje and Belgrade November 4-8, 2018. President Craner had the opportunity to meet program participants, alumni and stakeholders in person and learn first-hand about field-based activities and programming. In Skopje, the trip started with real-life examples of the power of intercultural immersion in the form of a meeting with successful YES alumnus Emir Hasanovic ’09 and a dinner with YES Abroad students and their host families. In addition, President Craner met with key stakeholders in the YES and YES Abroad programs, including Ambassador Bailey and teachers and staff at host high schools Josip Broz Tito and NOVA. The highlight of the trip was perhaps the “Human Library” event that allowed YES alumni to showcase their skills and knowledge. Indeed, President Craner found the alumni to be “very impressive”!
The second leg of President Craner’s Balkan site visit was Belgrade, where there were opportunities to observe and interact with almost all of the programs currently implemented in Serbia. Beyond meetings with Ambassador Scott and representatives of USAID, President Craner was able to visit the host family and Serbian language teacher of a participant in an academic-year Outbound program participant, meet the team that will be implementing new USA StudyAbroad program to establish a two way US-Serbia exchange and internationalization workshop, and visit the site of a summer internship hosted by a JFDP alumna who wants to give back. President Craner was able to observe the FLEX program from start (a group activity for current applicants to the program) to finish (a visit to the marketing start-up of FLEX alumna Jelena Djukic ’12). Again, the secondary program alumni he spoke with with throughout the trip and at a senior FLEX alumni meet-up stood out to President Craner as “inspirational.”