The pre-departure orientation for YES finalists from South East Europe was held in Krusevo, Macedonia, this past weekend from Friday, July 9 to Monday, July 12.
The orientation, which is also referred to as the PDO, was held to educate students about life in America and to prepare them for their time in the country. The finalists will arrive in the United States in August and spend the 2016-2017 school year studying there and living with host families.
Elvira Dana, the Regional Director for South East Europe, opened the orientation for the students from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo, and Macedonia. Students were divided into three groups for some sessions and then came together for other sessions.
In the first session, students learned about “red flag issues,” which are issues that students who are adjusting to life in the United States may encounter. One of the goals of this session was to provide students with ways to solve common problems they may have to deal with during their 10-month stay. Joe Mellott, Acting Public Affairs Officer at the United States Embassy in Macedonia, attended the session and shared his experience as an exchange student in Germany when he was younger.
Other sessions included conversations about diversity and culture as well as tolerance and understanding. There were also sessions to help students understand their cultural perspective and how that will influence their time in the United States.
Because the finalists will be staying with host families in America, there was also a session about family life in the United States. This session included ways that family life may differ from and be similar to family life in their respective countries.