By Aleksis Satka (YES 2018-2019, Albania, hosted by PAX in Lehi, Utah)
On August 8, Debora Ceta (YES 2018-2019, hosted by AYA/AIFS in Florence, SC) and I organized our first activity as alumnae. We decided to pay a visit to a lovely home for the elderly in our hometown, the capital city, Tirana. We brought along with us an amazing group of 30 volunteers, including new 2019-2020 YES finalists. The trip was very fun. We all used it as an opportunity to get to know one another better, as some of us were meeting for the first time.
Upon arriving, we served fresh fruit and then each one of us sat and spoke with one or two residents on the front porch of the home. They were all so sweet and had so much to tell us about their childhood and youth, as well as about their families. After the first hour, I took a group of volunteers inside and we walked around, giving treats and talking to the residents who could not come downstairs. One older grandmother had just come out of surgery and was in pain, so one of my friends, who can sing very well, sang her a song to help cheer her up. We were all so sad to leave, but we promised to come back again.
That day, we spent two wonderful hours sharing stories and listening to the elderly. We saw their faces light up with happiness as we gave them all of our love and positive energy. We all left the home with even more positive energy than we had entered with, and so many new lessons learned, too.
This activity was very important to me, not only because it was my first official activity as an alumna of the YES program, but because, while in the U.S., I lost my natural grandma with whom I had lived until then. Knowing how much she loved me and all young people, I believed she would be very proud of me for choosing to give love and positive energy to this important demographic of wonderful grandparents just like herself. Our elderly have done so much to raise our parents’ generation, and also our own. I believe they need and deserve all the love, positivity, and gratitude we can give them. All my feelings were confirmed when I saw the joy in their faces as they spoke with and listened to our volunteers. What might have been just two hours of our long summer, gave those we visited more joy than words can explain. I certainly would love to do it again.