By Ivan Vuksanovic, A-SMYLE Alumni Coordinator for Montenegro
Alumni activities in Montenegro over the summer were very successful. A summary of some of the activities that took place follows.
In the beginning of June, alumni from Montenegro visited the Montenegrin Parliament, where they met the Speaker of the Parliament, Ranko Krivokapic. This was a great experience for all. Alumni had the opportunity to share impressions of the United States while on program and to inform the president about alumni programming and activities that alumni organize and take part in. It was also a great opportunity for alumni to learn more about the legislative branch of government in Montenegro and about the role it has in our society.
Later that month, A-SMYLE generation ’12 returned from the States and we got 16 new members of our alumni association. The alumni coordinator organized a welcome back meeting for them where they got an opportunity to learn more about the alumni association, resources available to them and shared information about the process of recognizing their certificates from the United States in Montenegro.
The generation ’12 alumni started organizing and participating in activities right away! They participated in an alumi-organized debate at the American Corner where they analyzed the upcoming U.S. elections and shared their opinion about different topics related to this process. You can read more about this event here.
In July, alumni participated in a volunteering action, which the Montenegrin American Youth Alumni Association (MAYAA) organized with the Food Bank of Montenegro for the students going on the UGRAD program during their pre-departure orientation. Then, on the 4th of July, alumni organized the “Sweets for Their Smiles” action where they spent time with children from a refugee camp, taught them English and played with them. You can read more about this event here.
The alumni coordinator and MAYAA president Ivan Vuksanovic and Marina Roganovic (both ’07 alumni) were invited to the 4th of July reception organized by the United States Ambassador to Montenegro Ms. Sue K. Brown.
A few days later, alumni got a great opportunity (thanks to the United States Embassy in Podgorica) to tour a United States Navy Ship that was visiting Montenegro. Alumni spoke with members of the crew about their experiences in the U.S. Navy and their time in Montenegro. You can read more about this visit here.
Alumni also spent a great deal of time this summer working on a MAYAA project—Summer Camp “Today’s Children—Leaders of Tomorrow.” The Summer Camp was held from August 20-26 and it proved to be a success story. 30 high school students from various parts of Montenegro were interviewed and chosen to participate in the camp 20-26 August. The summer camp consisted of a series of workshops on important socioeconomic topics led and organized by U.S. youth alumni and guest speakers. The camp schedule also included English language lessons, volunteer projects and opportunities for the participants to share information about their backgrounds and experiences. Check out photos from the Summer Camp here.
Besides having an alumni meeting in August, 8 A-SMYLE alumni participated in the fourth annual Baskteball Diplomacy Camp, which was organized by the United States Embassy in Podgorica. Over forty high school students from Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Montenegro joined Georgetown University coaches for a four day regional basketball camp. During the camp, eight A-SMYLE exchange alumni from Montenegro moderated a leadership workshop. The goal of the Basketball Diplomacy project is to highlight the importance of sports and education for young people, including the development of their leadership skills and volunteerism and to promote regional and inter-ethnic cooperation and tolerance through sports.
In September, alumni worked on promoting A-SMYLE. This year alumni put a lot of effort into promotion, contributing to more than twice the number of applicants showing up for the first round of the competition than had participated the previous year.
Alumni also organized the “Mission: ‘Common Goal” regional conference for A-SMYLE and YES SEE alumni through MAYAA. This project was supported by the United States Embassy in Podgorica. The aim of the conference was to encourage regional alumni cooperation and support alumni in promoting multiculturalism and multi-country programming. Check out photos of this conference here.