By Tara Đelić, A-SMYLE/FLEX Alumni Coordinator for Serbia
From August 27-30, American Councils organized a training conference in Tbilisi, Georgia, for twenty of its newest employees, Alumni Coordinators for the FLEX and YES programs. Alumni Coordinators are responsible for supporting alumni in sharing their experiences in the U.S. and having a positive impact on the communities in which they live. This conference gathered Alumni Coordinators from sixteen countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, and Senegal, with seven Coordinators representing Southeast Europe. The Alumni Coordinators, most of whom are new to the position, had a unique opportunity not only to learn about their duties and responsibilities, but also to share their experiences in the alumni community.
With tens of thousands of alumni between them, these programs have had a significant impact on the communities from which those alumni come and in which they currently live. Training participants presented highlights of alumni activities to share the success of each country’s alumni community, as well as to inspire fellow Alumni Coordinators to organize similar initiatives. Some of the most inspiring programs highlighted included FLEX Armenia’s Mentorship Program, through which senior alumni mentor younger alumni, and FLEX Ukraine’s traveling environmental actions. Some participants decided to take bits and pieces of a variety of ideas and integrate them into whole new project plans. The Alumni Coordinators also took part in a series of team-building activities to learn about the importance of cooperation, shared problem-solving, and communication, which will be of great relevance as they venture into a new year of alumni activities.
The training also included a guest speaker, FLEX (formerly A-SMYLE) Serbia alumna Ana Brzaković ’08, who prepared a social media training specially tailored for FLEX and YES Alumni Coordinators, with the aim of improving the Internet presence of each country’s alumni community. With this newly-acquired knowledge, Alumni Coordinators will have an increasingly active role on social media. Apart from Ana, other guest speakers were Giorgi Gabunia, Educational and Professional Programs Coordinator from the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, who spoke about alumni cooperation with the U.S. Embassy and American Corners, and Alan Luan, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tkibuli, Georgia, who taught Alumni Coordinators about sharing their messages through photographs and videos.
The Alumni Coordinators Training Conference was definitely a meeting place of project ideas and alumni experiences after which enthusiastic participants headed back to their home countries, ready to take on the challenges of their new role. As they move on to the new year of alumni activities, the Alumni Coordinators hope to keep FLEX and YES alumni vibrant, active, and encouraged to further develop their alumni communities.