An American in Skopje: Exploring the Region and Working with Youth

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When I found out that I would be placed in Skopje, Macedonia for the upcoming YES recruiting season, I was very excited. Although I had lived in Albania, I never had the chance to make it over to Macedonia.  Skopje will continue to be my hub location as I recruit for the YES program in Macedonia, Kosova and Albania this fall.

My first day at the office, I was warmly greeted by the wonderful American Councils staff in Macedonia. They immediately invited me to go hiking to Mt. Vodno the following day with the American YES Abroad students studying in Skopje.  Every free opportunity that I’ve had, I’ve been exploring Macedonia. I’ve hiked Mt. Vodno, visited famous Ohrid, taken numerous walks through Skopje’s Old Bazaar, and taken a boat ride through scenic Matka Canyon. Macedonia continues to amaze me with its natural beauty.

My favorite thing to do after I finish work is to study with my Macedonian language teacher. I thought that living in Skopje would provide me a wonderful new chance to learn another language.  We meet several times a week to study the most common phrases and words. It’s so rewarding to be able to use what I have learned in class to buy burek at my favorite bakery by the office, greet my neighbors, have small conversations at the supermarket, and decipher the alphabet on advertisements in the city.

From excursion to presentations, I’ve had several opportunities to meet YES alumni from Macedonia. All of them I have met talk so highly of their year in America and the impact being a YES finalist has had on their lives. What amazes me the most, however, is the dedication they have to spread the word about the YES program to every corner of Macedonia. These alumni and staff have been working hard to make sure that every eligible student is aware of the program. They’ve been giving interviews and presentations in multiple languages including: Albanian, Macedonian, and English.  

I can’t wait to meet more students from across the Balkans this fall!

Sarah Senior, American Councils Participant Recruiter