By Klea Troka (YES 2011-2012, Albania hosted by YFU in Delaware, OH)
When they started their exchange year, they never thought that it would finish earlier than expected. On April 21, the newest generation of YES students (2019-2020) returned home on short notice to Albania due to the COVID-19 outbreak and were quarantined in a hotel in Durres for 14 days.
The YES Albania alumni community was aware that this was a difficult time for the newly arrived students and wanted to make them feel welcome, so they began organized virtual get together on social media.
Fifteen YES alumni in Albania took part in live social media events to share their YES stories with the new alums. They talked about their high schools in the U.S., favorite food, host families, and host communities. The newly returned alumni in turn shared the highlights of their year, what they learned, and how much they felt their exchange experience changed them.
In addition, the groups had a chance to discuss the process that they went through to become YES students and tips to give to future generations.
The live events were a huge success, with lots of live views, people reached, and engagements. The most successful video reached 2,880 people and had 1,900 views.
It was special to the older YES alum to witness just how much the new alumni had grown over their exchange year even though it was cut short. These live events really brought together the YES Albania alumni community.