By Edi Frcovski, YES alum ’16
The newest group of YES Alumni from Macedonia attended a two-day Re-entry Seminar at the Hotel Monako in Skopje on Friday, June 5 and Saturday, June 6.
The alumni got to catch up with each other over lunch for the first time after departing the US, and socialize with the staff members of American Councils Macedonia. Zdenka, Country Representative of American Councils Macedonia gave an opening speech to mark the beginning of the seminar, then Semra Amet introduced herself as the new Alumni Coordinator, who recently took Simona Ristovska’s place. What followed were several sessions where the alumni were encouraged to reminisce and reflect on their experiences while on program, and had a chance to share them in a safe space.
Some of the sessions focused on readjusting at home and dealing with reverse culture shock, which often times affects returnees, at varying degrees. The goal was to help the alumni realize how they have changed and understand what that means for each of them individually, as well as to give pointers on how to resolve conflicts with parents and cope with estranged friends. It is understandable that the alumni were reluctant to share some of their thoughts and worries, but in the end they all got something out of their own analyses and each other’s perspectives.
There was also a panel which aimed to lay out the numerous possibilities that alumni have and put a spotlight on people who are true paradigms for active alumni. Semra and Simona talked about the Alumni Association and the new alumni engaged in an evaluation activity that allowed them to create their own project proposals and present them shortly. Of course, the seminar would not be complete without some community service. The group prepared meals and served refreshments for those who are homeless and/or with low income. This activity hopefully renewed the alumni’s love for volunteering, causing them to make a positive impact in their communities.