YES Programs



Finding a Way

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By Cvetanka Pasinechka (YES 2019-2020, North Macedonia, placed by CIEE in Ringgold, GA)

Before leaving for university in Slovenia, Cvetanka Pasinechka '20 feared she could not help her local community. Having spent many years organizing and participating in projects, she thought she would lose one of the most important aspects of her life when the assignments and obligations started far away from home. Yet, as she states, fear can be overcome when our will exceeds our doubt.

In her last year of undergraduate studies, she has used much of her free time to focus on volunteering, developing ideas, and participating in projects. On February 14, she co-organized a Valentine's Day workshop, "To Gift a Heart," at a day center for people with disabilities, "Poraka," in her town, Negotino, North Macedonia. Together with three other YES alumni, they crafted hearts on which they wrote messages of love, care, and positive thoughts, conveying that love does not cost much to express but can make a difference. Furthermore, in September 2023, Cvetanka organized a local clean-up after her town's annual bazaar. "My gratitude towards the YES program and my community motivates me to keep volunteering," she states.

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However, her project of gratitude and exchange with U.S. soldiers and elementary school students from Negotino holds a dear place in her heart. "It is in moments like those that you recognize the significance of small things on others. I feel that I have left a piece of myself on many people and places, and that is one of the best feelings - knowing you have made an impact."

Studying computer science, Cvetanka says that volunteering helps her stay in touch with reality and the person she is and wants to be. "With the development of technology, it is easy to lose ourselves behind the screens. We mustn't forget who we are. We can reach our full potential only by connecting with our environment and other people."

Cvetanka concludes, "By volunteering, we can only hope to express our gratitude to others for the person we are becoming. By having a strong will, we are opening paths to becoming the people we wish to be. I am grateful to the KL-YES program for opening my horizons and motivating me to always find a way - to do and not fear."