By Asja Alishpahic (YES 2017-2018, Bosnia and Herzegovina, hosted by AFS in Warren, NJ)
It has already been two months since I was at the IDEAL Workshop in Vrsac, Serbia. IDEAL is a regional workshop that brings together YES and FLEX alumni from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia. IDEAL stands for the aims of the workshop: to prepare participants to identify challenges in their communities; develop a better understand of those challenges; establish plans to address them; act on those plans; and, in so doing, lead by example. I had the chance to meet 64 other amazing alumni who are already a great addition to their communities, but through IDEAL they found out just the right ways to address their communities’ needs.
In this year’s workshop, alumni had the opportunity to explore the themes Mental Health and Developmental Differences; Professional and Adulting Skills; The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People; and Training, Facilitation, and Teambuilding. I was placed in the Professional and Adulting Skills group, where we learned to utilize and analyze a wide range of skills needed for professional and “adult” life. We did everything from mock interviews, to how to write a CV, to financial planning simulations. With the help of these sessions, elective sessions I chose on other theme topics, and advice from all of the workshop mentors, I felt ready to conduct a workshop of my own and share everything I had learned.
The IDEAL Workshop was also an amazing opportunity to reconnect with my fellow alumni and share ideas that we have for future projects. I met so many amazing alumni who truly show the power of our alumni community and how big an impact we have on our local communities. Other alumni were definitely inspirational to me as I organized my follow-up IDEAL project, which turned out to be extremely successful.
Deciding to fully utilize the skills I had learned at the workshop, I organized a two-day workshop of my own for 15 high school students at the American Corner in my hometown, Tuzla, on May 27-28. Over the course of two days, these students had a chance to learn more about adulting and professional skills, including writing resumes, attending interviews, applying for jobs, communicating effectively, and interacting appropriately and professionally with others.
On the first day of my workshop, participants interacted through mock interviews as a first introduction to each other and to the topics we would be discussing. I had them do this without any instructions from me; just solely based on what they thought was right. The following day, we went over tips and tricks for interviews, including how to prepare for one and how to behave throughout and after an interview. The participants then had a chance to use this new information to repeat their interviews from the first day. Through this process, I was able to see how much their interactions had improved thanks to the new concepts they had learned. I believe that I truly used the knowledge I gained at the IDEAL Workshop in the best way possible by sharing it with a group of young adults who will find this information very helpful as they start applying to universities and jobs.