Being selected as one of the A-SMYLE (now FLEX) students in 2011 was a proof to me that hard work, passion and knowledge pay off sooner or later. My exchange experience provided me with self confidence in my professional pursuits to come. A-SMYLE/FLEX experience in my CV, a diverse network on my Facebook, and most of all – leadership and intercultural skills, critical thinking and English fluency I have gained through the exchange, were the best stepping stone a teenager like me could get.
After the program I have remained active in the alumni community. I was part of many teams on numerous alumni projects. Alumni grants allowed me to implement my own ideas and develop my community, and also to develop my personal management and budgeting skills. By the time I was ready to go to college I had already coordinated community initiatives and managed budgets while my peers were getting used to doing their own laundry by themselves for the first time. In 2016, inspired by the projects I implemented with the A-SMYLE/FLEX alumni community, I founded a new youth NGO Movement for Cooperation and Development of Youth. Our first project called “Why Youth?” was awarded with the Resolution Fellowship by a NY based Resolution Project Foundation. All of this made my time through the Law School I am attending now seem like a nice walk in the park – while some of my colleagues still struggle to organize their time and do their own budget, I have managed to complete 3rd year of studies with 94.5% success.
Due to my active involvement in the community development through alumni projects I have been invited to represent students at the UNICEF Quality of Education Conference, to represent Montenegro at the World Forum for Democracy, at the World Youth Summit One Young World (OYW) and many more. After the OYW summit I applied to become the coordinator for the Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, and competed against several people with perfect resumes. Everyone in my surrounding told me I was a fool for expecting to be selected. However some people on the selection committee thought that due to my previous managing and coordinating experience (I have gained through the A-SMYLE/FLEX alumni projects) was worth considering, and – I WAS SELECTED- and got an opportunity to lead more than 300 people from 18 countries!
Nowadays, thanks to all of these beautiful and life changing opportunities I have participated in – ONLY because I had a chance to take part in the A-SMYLE/FLEX program and its alumni activities- I am a semester away from graduating as one of the top graduates from the University in Belgrade Law School. I have already got three job offers from leading international and national law and financial companies in a country where such offers are not usual, and where youth unemployment exceeds 30%.
I would have never achieved even a half of all this if I had not gotten a chance to be part of the A-SMYLE/FLEX program. Therefore, I believe that many more young people should have a chance to take part in this program in the future. Finally, I believe that the real value of the program in Montenegro and Serbia is yet to be seen in the years to come, as its program alumni are still young professionals who will soon make a big impact.
A-SMYLE/FLEX alumnus from Bar, Montenegro
Hosted in Parsons, KS – Program Year 2011-2012.