Sign Language Course

People with disabilities often face hardships in everyday life. For deaf people that hardship often comes

in the form of communication. Having that in mind, along the importance of good communication

between a doctor and a patient A-SMYLE alumnus Dušan Bogićević along with the International

Federation of Medical Students’ Associations decided to organize a sign language course for medical

students at the Faculty of Medicine in Niš.


The idea was to in addition to basic sign language teach the students more medically orientated phrases

that can be used in the doctor’s office. This would allow them as future doctors not to depend on

interpreters when dealing with deaf patients and provide a timely diagnosis and better the treatment of

patients. When the idea was presented to the staff of the Bubanj school for children with special needs

it was met with enthusiasm and so the mini course started.

SERBIA NIS FLEX Alumnus Dusan Bogicevic organized a sign language workshop for medical students

The response from the students was better than expected and instead of the planned 20 beginners

there were around 60. Over the course of three workshops with the help of special ed teachers form the

Bubanj school the students covered everything from letters, simple phrases such as hello, goodbye etc.,

to more complex phrases concerning the various problems patients express in the office. The workshops

were interactive and the students were eager to participate and learn and often asked for more phrases

than were planned for that day. There was even a practical part where several deaf students came and

practiced with the students simulating a real doctor patient conversation. The word about the course

spread quickly and the number of interested students keeps increasing, which led to the second course

being planned for May and the talks for further collaboration in organizing more beginner as well as

advanced courses on a regular basis.

Alumni in Montenegro mark GYSD

by Ivan Vuksanovic, Alumni Coordinator for Montenegro

On April 12, 2014, A–SMYLE alumni in Montenegro organized Food Drive in Podgorica and Herceg Novi with Food Bank for Global Youth Service Day. This is the second time alumni have marked GYSD with this activity.

Food donated by citizens

Food donated by citizens

It was really successful last year and it did not disappoint this year either as alumni and their friends who joined them and volunteered with them managed to collect 6.1 tons of food for the people in need!

Alumni and other volunteers helped promote these actions through interviews on TV, posters that were placed in both of the cities the action took place, and through contacting everyone they knew and informing them about the action and the opportunity to help people in need.

The Food Bank contacted companies and informed them about the action and invited them to donate food.

On the day of the action, alumni who worked at the markets, promoted the action by handing out fliers and informing citizens who visited the super markets about this action and asked them to donate.

Volunteers were also in charge of making boxes and packing the food that was donated by individuals and companies.

In the days following the action, alumni helped distribute the food to families through the lists provided by the Center for Social Work, Food Bank and partner organizations who are dealing with the issues of poverty and helping people in need.

As this activity was very successful and had a large impact on the community we are hoping to organize it again next year for GYSD and possibly make it happen in more towns!

Ksenija Vukmirovic '08, Djordje Cadjenovic '13 and Bojana Knezevic '13 posing with their friends - volunteers

Ksenija Vukmirovic ’08, Djordje Cadjenovic ’13 and Bojana Knezevic ’13 posing with their friends – volunteers

Charity Concert “Let’s Sing for the Dragons”(“Pevajmo za Zmajeve”)

By Dusan Ilic, Alumni Coordinator for Serbia

On 25th of May, A-SMYLE Alumnus Aleksandar Nikolic, with the help of me and alumna Marija Aca koncertDraskic ’07, organized a charity concert for orphanage Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj. The goal of this concert was to collect money to buy sanitary products for the shelter.

All the performers voluntarily performed, and the concert venue was donated by the Misker House, Belgrade. ELECTRIC FEEDBACK, Elena Erdeljanović and Mihailo, Ivan Ristanović, and Marija Draškić and Filip had a wonderful stage performance, that made the whole audience relax and enjoy a very pleasant evening. Many other Alumni came to support this project and the Ambassador of Switzerland even attended!

Audience during the concert

Audience during the concert

Overall, the concert was a great success! Over $475 was collected which was used to purchase sanitary equipment and other items needed for the orphanage “Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj“ in Belgrade.

GYSD: Flip the Playground

By Nemanja Ostojic, A – SMYLE Montenegro ’12

I had my first encounter with this problem at the end of my elementary school. It continued thorough the high school, and now when I am in college, the problem is still there.

Nemanja Ostojic '12 and Vasilije Adzic '12, in front of the wall the repainted

Nemanja Ostojic ’12 and Vasilije Adzic ’12, in front of the wall the repainted

The “problem” I am talking about is a playground stationed close to the elementary and high school and the student/high school dormitory house. The playground used to be a place where people of all ages would come, have an active day full of sports, fun events, and would socialize. High school sports tournaments would often take place there as well as social gatherings. But maybe the biggest advantage of it was that it was free of charge! After a while the playground started to look more like a junk yard rather than a clean and safe place. It was neglected by the people in charge as they had no monetary profit from it. We knew something had to be done.

April 13th was THE day. With smiles on their faces volunteers gathered and the action began. A big load of work was ahead of us, but our will kept our spirits up. First things first, we removed trash from the court, and removed all the weeds and plants that were growing from the walls. Then we established teams. Each team was in charge of a different task. Where one team was scraping rust, the other was re-painting the graffiti sprayed wall and so on. Special thanks goes to “Dom ucenikaistudenata” who provided meals and refreshments for our volunteers. The action even motivated students from the dormitory and they offered to help. We got new goal and hoop nets, repainted court lines, fences, poles, hoops etc., cleaned the whole playground, removed a huge pile of dirt and covered deep holes, making this playground playable again.

If it wasn’t for our volunteers this action would not have been a success–We had right people for the job. At the end we were both, extremely tired and extremely happy because we knew we managed to fulfill our goals.

Sandra Brkanovic, '13 in action during the "Flip the playground" action

Sandra Brkanovic, ’13 in action during the “Flip the playground” action

I think the best indicator of our success was the moment at the end, where students that used to play there saw what we did, came and thanked us with all their heart then called friends to try out the new court. To summarize we are very pleased with the results, and we think that this is just the beginning! We hope this project will motivate people to do something for their own communities and spread the positive word.

20th Regional Session of European Youth Parliament Serbia

By Dusan Ilic, Alumni Coordinator for Serbia

European Youth Parliament is a youth organization that acts as a simulation of the actual European Parliament where young people discuss today’s problems and solutions. The participants are called delegates who are divided into committees (four in this case) and officials: Session President, Vice-presidents, journalists, organizers and chairpersons (heads of committees).

One of the tam exercises during the sessions

One of the team exercises during the sessions. A-SMYLE Alumni Aleksandar Nikolic and Marko Stojanovic (’12) are on the left

The Session lasted for two days during which participants were involved in team-building, committee work (topic discussion) and General Assembly where they had to present their resolutions on certain problems and vote on other committee’s resolutions.

The committee work and team-building took place at Fifth Belgrade High School, whereas General Assembly took place at First Belgrade High School. A-SMYLE alumni Aleksandar Nikolic and Marko Stojanovic acted as a chairpersons for one of the committees.

Global Youth Service Day Project – “Go Green!”

By Nemanja Miltenovic, A-SMYLE Serbia ’13

For Global Youth Service Day, my friend Maja Pejcinovic (’13 A-SMYLE alumna) and I decided to do something that was much needed in our beloved city of Belgrade – a cleanup! We noticed that there has been a lot of trash lying around in parks, playgrounds and school grounds, and we decided to do something about it.

Volunteers gather before they started the cleanup

Volunteers gather before they started the cleanup

The first thing we needed were volunteers. Luckily, many of our friends were happy to help us out, because they also thought that something had to be done. For most of them, this was their first volunteer experience, so we had a task to make this project enjoyable for them.

We all gathered at the “Usce” shopping mall to hand out duties and talk about the day. From there, we went to the residence area in New Belgrade and started our project. We cleaned up three parks, a playground, and areas around three high schools (Tourism High School, Graphics High School, and the Ninth Belgrade High School). During our cleanup, we attracted many different people who were wondering what we were doing. After they found out, they were happy that the youth is taking care of the environment and some even helped us out.

Volunteers in action

Volunteers in action

At the end of the day, we filled up around 20 trash bags, which was big success for us, but it raises a big question for the community, since we cleaned up just a small part of the city. Is there something else we could do to keep our environment cleaner?

Volunteering at “Old Village” Open-Air Museum in Sirogojno, Serbia

By Dusan Ilic, A-SMYLE Alumni Coordinator for Serbia

Alumni together after hard work

Alumni together after hard work

A-SMYLE alumni from Serbia and Montenegro spent the weekend from April 4th to 6th volunteering at the Open-Air museum in Sirogojno. Their task was to rake and help clear pine needles and weeds, fix the fence, help in the library, and help with building a sculpture for the museum. Volunteers worked very hard and finished everything that was planned even before they were supposed to. That is why they had more time to talk about their Global Youth Service Day projects. Also, alumni learned how to make a homemade cheese pie.

pravljenje pite

A-SMYLE Alumni Marija Jovanovic and Nikola Pejakovic ’13 making a home made cheese pie.

In the evenings, while hanging out and taking a rest, volunteers brainstormed ideas for more projects, shared the ideas with each other and talked about possible cooperation among alumni from different cities in doing the same project in many cities at the same time. Alumni also presented their GYSD projects.

Even though volunteers didn’t have much free time in Sirogojno, a bit of time they had was used in a very creative way. Alumni made a welcome video for new alumni generation coming in June, and showed that A-SMYLE always combine fun, friends and creativity with hard work and community service. There was also an educative part of the event–a presentation about racial segregation and Civil War in United States, by Luna Djordjevic (AC Staff).

GYSD project presentations from all participants

GYSD project presentations from all participants


10th Kosovar and Regional Student Conference about Social Issues

by Dusan Ilic,  A-SMYLE Alumni Coordinator for Serbia

Three 2012-2013 A-SMYLE alumni, Nemanja Miltenovic, Marija Jovanovic, and Vanja Popov, came together to do a research project on the Media Impact on Youth for the 10th Kosovar and Regional Student Conference about Social Issues. The conference was held December 6 and 7, 2013 in Pristina, Kosovo. Many people applied to participate and these A-SMYLE alumni were selected to go to the American School of Kosovo and present their research in front of a large group of students and some local representatives.

Vanja Popov, Nemanja Miltenovic and Marija Jovanovic, A-SMYLE '13 Alumni

Vanja Popov, Nemanja Miltenovic and Marija Jovanovic, A-SMYLE ’13 Alumni

“We had an opportunity to learn how to do a research project, how to present it in a good manner and most importantly to learn about social issues that are present in our region and our own country. It was an eye-opening experience that showed us the problems in our region and what we could do to prevent or help decrease them” Vanja said.

In their research they showed the impact of media on youth in creating opinions towards neighboring countries that aren’t always positive, and their work raised many other questions regarding the current political affairs in the Balkan region. It also raised questions about the psychological effect and impact of media.

Another amazing benefit about this conference was that it gathered together a group of Balkan youth and created a strong network between neighboring countries without prejudice which is very important for the future of our countries.

NATO – What do you say about it? (NATO – Šta kažeš NA TO?)

by Ivan Vuksanovic, Alumni Coordinator for Montenegro

Students debating about NATO integration of Montenegro

Students debating about NATO integration of Montenegro

The national debate tournament “NATO, what do you say about that?” organized by the Montenegrin – American Youth Alumni Association (MAYAA) took place from October 18 to October 20, at the University of Donja Gorica in Podgorica, Montenegro.

The tournament brought together 18 debate teams from across Montenegro, and one of it’s goals was to help and motivate youth to research and gather information about NATO and encourage critical thinking about Montenegrin Euro – Atlantic integration process through structured discussion based on facts.

During the first day of the tournament, more than 70 participants visited the Army’s base ‘Milovan Saranovic’ in Danilovgrad. Participants had the opportunity to tour the base, hear about current processes the Army of Montenegro is going through, learn about cooperation with NATO and plans for the future from Major Radivoje Radovic, which helped them gather valuable information for the debate competition.

Later that day, at the University of Donja Gorica, participants had the opportunity to hear pro et contra panel discussion regarding Montenegro’s future in terms of our NATO membership and ask  representatives of the Government, opposition, NGOs and Universities questions.

The second and third day were days for competition. Teams had to go through four qualification rounds and debate on four different topics:

1. This House believes that NATO should be disbanded;

2. This House believes that NATO membership contributes to environmental preservation;

3. This House believes that Montenegro should continue participating in the ISAF mission;

4. This House believes that NATO should continue its expansion.

The semifinal debate was an impromptu debate, where participants learned what topic they would debate on shortly before the debate took place. The topic of the final debate was: ‘This House believes Montenegro should become NATO member.’

The team from “Slobodan Skerovic” High School in Podgorica (Marija Dedic, Dea Đebric and Jovan Pavlovic ), won first place; SMŠ “Danilo Kis” (Aleksandar Knezevic, Irena Gigovic and Kristina Radjenovic) won second place; the this place award went to “Slobodan Skerovic” High School’s second team  (Milica Music, Andrija Klikovac and Đorđije Strugar.)

This project gave the opportunity to youth from all Montenegrin regions to learn more about NATO in general, exchange opinions, learn from people involved in the NATO integration process and ask all the questions they wanted to ask. It also gave them the chance to learn more about the civilized exchange of arguments which had to be based on facts and reserach.

This project was funded by the U.S. Embassy in Podgorica through a grant awarded to MAYAA.

Together We Do Better–Recognizing International Day for Persons with Disabilities

Ksenija Popovic, A-SMYLE Montenegro ‘07


Ksenija and her fellow representatives from the Montenegrin Medical Students International Committee

On November 22nd I took part in a project called “Together We Do Better”, which was created and organized by the Montenegrin Medical Students International Committee (MoMSIC).  This project was inspired by the wish of MoMSIC standing committee on human rights and peace to mark two very important dates, one of which December 3,  International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

The project was done in cooperation between MoMSIC, whose volunteers carried out this project; “Podgorica”, a public education resource center for children and youth with disabilities, where the event took place; and the Faculty of Medicine from the University of Montenegro in Podgorica and a local medical high school, which contributed to the project by providing anatomical models and volunteers.

Ksenija helps a child learn about the functions of human organs in a most "unordinary" biology class.

Ksenija helps a child learn about the functions of human organs in a most “unordinary” biology class.

For Together We Do Better, 14 medical students held six science-themed workshops at “Podgorica”.  The students brought in human models and various props to help the children learn in an interactive way.  Additionally, since “Podgorica” is an organization whose mission is to educate those with disabilities, the workshops were designed in a way so that everyone, regardless of disability, could participate.

The children showed a great deal of interest in the topics at hand and found this normally unordinary biology class quite refreshing.  The workshops lasted for two hours and were followed by an informal get-together, which was a great opportunity for volunteers, the medical students, and the children to get to know one another.

I believe that projects like this one should not be executed only once a year and hope that my colleagues and I will continue this wonderful journey with our friends from “Podgorica”.