By Dea Saraqini (YES 2014-2015, Kosovo, placed by Greenheart Exchange in Simpsonville, SC)
On August 6, the YES Alumni community in Kosovo celebrated a decade of amazing friendships, community work, and life-changing experiences — the tenth anniversary of the YES program in Southeast Europe. Medina Bilalli (YES 2019-2020, placed by Aspect Foundation in Valley Center, KS), and YES Program Coordinator Mjellma Vula (YES 2012-2013, Kosovo, placed by PAX in Simpsonville, SC) organized events for alumni to celebrate the anniversary.
The day began with an activity called “World Café”, where alumni met in small groups to network and discuss community issues and challenges. Alumni discussed international education, civic education, student activism, the workforce of the future, and 21st-century skills. Discussions were facilitated by an experienced alumnus/a who shared ideas and prompted interesting conversations. Alumni joined discussions on each topic and at the end, they met in a big group to talk about the main ideas and how they related to the value of international education.
After the World Café activity, alumni from different generations showcased the amazing achievements that the YES alumni community in Kosovo has made through presentations of projects and activities. Joined by YES program partners, alumni shared their favorite memories from the YES program, such as their memories of the first day at American high school; their first time living away from home; their personal growth as a result of the exchange year; their achievements after they finished the program; and the friendships and the impact that they have made in the community. Overall, the day was a well-deserved celebration of an important milestone for the YES community in Southeast Europe. A decade of hard work and success…and the best is yet to come!