Improving Communities One Year After U.S. Experience

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Participants in the Serbia Youth Leadership Program (SYLP) sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by American Councils spent May 2010 in the U.S. on intensive community work and leadership trainings.  One year later, SYLP alumni are applying what they learned from their U.S. teachers and peers to their own communities in Serbia.

Gavrić, Jovanović and Veđej prepare to cut a cake that thanks the U.S. Department of State for their support

Andrea Gavrić, Aleksa Jovanović and Mariana Veđej are three SYLP alumni who saw a need in their community and found a creative way to address it.  They noticed that there were many children and teenagers in their community who liked to sing and dance, but who could not find space to practice or instructors to help them learn and improve, and so they founded the Serbian Talents Club.  Thanks to support from the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and donation of practice space and technical equipment from the municipality of Novi Beograd and Novobeogradska Kulturna Mreža, Gavrić, Jovanović and Veđej are able to offer students in their community a creative outlet and instruction in singing and dancing free of charge. Gavrić and Veđej—themselves experienced performers—offer dancing and singing lessons, while Jovanović acts as the club’s spokesperson and takes care of logistics.  There are currently twenty students participating in the club.

On May 6, 2011, Serbian Talents Club organized a small performance that showcased the singing and dancing talents of six of its members.  The audience had an opportunity to enjoy singing and dancing in Serbian, French, Slovak, English, German and Russian languages and styles.

Cleaning the Raška was dirty but enjoyable work for alumni and volunteers

SYLP alumni from Novi Pazar Anel Bajrović, Ana Čolović, Haris Ćorović, Šejla Đakovac, Emir Gračanin, Mihailo Jevtović, Mersija Plojović, and Danilo Radetić were concerned about the environment and in particular the condition of the river Raška that runs through their hometown. Using the methods they learned in the U.S., they organized a cleaning action on April 23 and 24, 2011.  They invited their high school friends and spent the entire weekend cleaning the river.

Goranović and Krivokapić prepare for a reception in the student space

SYLP alumni from Vrbas Miljan Ćorović, Milica Đilas, Konstantin Đuričković, Aneta Goranović, Ana Krivokapić, Nađa Marinković, Slavica Matijašević, Katarina Međedović, Ana-Marija Nedić, Isidora Radević, and Vladica Vojinović were inspired by their experience in America to find ways to address issues related to youth in their hometown and nearby villages. The youth formed two teams, For Us, By Us and Learn It, Live It, Love It.  The For Us, By Us team successfully lobbied for space in Vrbas High School and now run a student group that organizes activities, workshops, and peer-to-peer lectures.  The Learn It, Live It, Love It team organized workshops that trained more than 70 primary and secondary school students in how to organize community projects.  Alumni of these workshops are now kicking off their own projects!  Both teams received funding and support from the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

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