By Simona Ristovska, Alumni Coordinator for Macedonia
Even though it has been more than two years since I left for America to accomplish my dream of participating on the YES program, as alumni we are always looking for ways to help the next group of students who want to fulfill that same goal.
For many of the students who will travel to the US during 2013-2014, their journey began on October 16, 2012. Marija Indova ’12, Maja Hirstovska ’10 and I helped students fill out their application forms, provided instructions on how to complete them, gave information about the exam they would take, and checked their birth certificates at NOVA High School in Skopje, Macedonia.
All the alumni who helped out that day were able to reminisce about their own experience and what these potential YES students may be feeling. In reaction to “those innocent, scared faces walking through the door” Maja said, “It brought back wonderful memories to me. It reminded me of myself three years ago. I had the same excited feeling and the same fear of the unknown. The only difference between me and them was that no one could share their experience with me, since I was one of the first fifteen exchange students from Macedonia. I feel great that I took part in this project; that I could help to calm their nervousness about the testing process and everything that follows. It was a pleasant experience to relive all my beautiful memories and I’d be happy to do it again.”
For Marija, helping the prospective students allowed her to relive the whole experience from a different perspective. “This time I wasn’t that slightly insecure student preparing myself to take the first step towards a desired unknown. This time I was the person who was there to guide them and watch them take that first step. Seeing the students’ nervous faces and the anticipation in their eyes, it brought back memories from not so long ago and I could feel the same excitement they felt. For some of those students that day was the beginning of a whole new wonderful chapter in their life, and I feel fulfilled that I had the opportunity to be a part of it.