YES Programs



Learning the Importance of Nature through YES

David Mladenovski 20 Hiking In Hawaii

By David Mladenovski (YES 2019-2020, North Macedonia, placed by American Councils in Honolulu, HI)

As someone who grew up as a farm boy surrounded by nature, I have always wondered how we can help preserve our surroundings. My YES exchange year in Hawaii gave me a taste of what that might be like. I would often see animals, such as pigs and chickens, roaming the roads on my way to school. I explored nature reserves on the islands, where I saw turtles and fish bigger and more colorful than I previously could have imagined. These experiences opened my eyes to how the environment is protected in the U.S., and I even played my own part in helping through volunteerism.

During my time in Hawaii, I decided to volunteer to maintain its nature and help the local community. I organized neighborhood cleanups with friends and aided in setting up bingo charity nights to raise money for those in need. I worked on these projects with my friends from my host high school, and this instilled in us a greater understanding of the importance of our community and how we can play a part in making a difference.

These experiences helped me return to North Macedonia with a desire to implement my own projects in my local community. Since coming home in 2020, I have organized three cleanups at local nature reserves and taught others the importance of preserving our environment. I am forever grateful to the YES program for helping me channel my passion for the environment into making an impact. I hope to continue organizing projects in North Macedonia and work towards a better tomorrow.