By Nita Bashota (YES 2017-2018, Kosovo, hosted by Aspect Foundation in Canton, IL)
In Kosovo, many alumni activities are organized by City Representatives (CRs): alumni who volunteer to lead projects in their communities and to strengthen the alumni community by supporting other alumni in doing the same.
On Saturday, September 29, a few former CRs and some new ones gathered to brainstorm ideas for new projects, review the key steps of project implementation, and discuss the role of strong advertisement in bringing projects to life. This meeting was organized by the Alumni Coordinator Visar Zeka (YES 2014-2015, hosted by AYUSA in Prosper, TX), who did an amazing job making sure that all of us understood the basics of project implementation.
Participants included former CR Arbresha Beqiri (YES 2016-2017, hosted by American Councils in Cedar Falls, IA), returning CR Anda Rama (YES 2016-2017, hosted by ASSE in Berlin, PA), and new CRs Behar Bunjaku (YES 2017-2018, hosted by CIEE in Palestine, TX), Dora Tarani (YES 2017-2018, hosted by PAX in Olympia, WA), and me. Arbresha informed the other CRs about the activities that she organized, such as a potluck dinner and clothing donation drive. She was very proud of what she had accomplished, because what she got in the end was priceless: she was able to see how with a little work she made others smile and made their day. Anda explained how she came up with the idea to organize a Color Run, and how although she and all the other volunteers worked very hard, it was totally worth it. She was able to find partnerships and expand her network. Anda is interested in continuing to volunteer. She is now working on creating a debate club for elementary school students.
These stories were nothing less than inspiring for us, the new CRs. We, too, want to make great efforts to give back to our society. We all have very creative ideas touching different areas of the community. I am interested in helping stray dogs, as well as collecting and then donating clothing and toys to those in need. Behar is planning to start a debate club in her high school, because she really enjoyed the debate club that she was a part of while in the US. Dora is interested in implementing a project that will help people with disabilities and in creating a book club in her town.
Not only did we, the new CRs, expand our knowledge and learn about others’ ideas, we also had plenty of fun! Each of us has now been assigned an experienced CR mentor to whom we can turn when we need advice or support.