By Andrej Zdravko Trajkoski (YES 2018-2019, North Macedonia, hosted by AYUSA in Boise, ID)
During my stay in the U.S. I got to experience and see a little bit of everything. I developed skills in different areas that I didn’t have before. In the beginning my year was really tough. But, to make a long story short, I did a lot of weightlifting and exercise, a lot of reading on marketing and leadership, and quite a bit of traveling. Ultimately I finished the year in the best shape of my life and having made a ton of new friends. I even placed in the top ten in “Apparel and Accessories Selling” at an international competition in Orlando, FL.
My year in the U.S. was a defining experience for me. After ten months of being far from home, intensively learning, growing, and working on myself, I felt like I was getting somewhere. Going to the U.S. wasn’t easy, but coming back was much harder. At first I was ecstatic to be home, because I got to see my closest friends and family. It was especially interesting seeing my hometown once again. Shortly after I came back, however, it kind of felt like I had lost everything. I even thought for a time that my year in the U.S. had been a waste, because I felt like I couldn’t use my new skills to my full potential and like I had lost many of my old connections. But I was wrong. Spending a year in the U.S., I realized, actually helped me make many more meaningful connections than the ones I had had before. The skills that I had found useless at first soon helped me achieve a lot and to reach new heights, when I least expected it.
When September rolled around and I started back to school, I had a hard time at first, because I had switched classes and I was no longer used to my old school system. But I soon realized that school can actually be a stepping stone to contributing something meaningful to my community as a YES alumnus. The only thing I couldn’t figure out was how...
Every piece fell into place when I found out that the school parliament needed someone to be the coordinator of the sports sector, which helps the school with raising money for charity and replenishing the school fund used for improvements. It was immediately obvious to me that I was “the man for the job” because I could use my exchange experiences related to leadership, communication, and business, to be a successful coordinator. I applied and I got the role.
Being a sports coordinator has, so far, been challenging but rewarding. Having to deal with all the teachers and students every day can be stressful, but on the other hand organizing sports events and leading a big group of students is a great experience and also super fun. We have organized a couple of sports events so far this year, of which a volleyball tournament that raised more than $400 was the most successful. Currently we are working on a ping-pong tournament that will be a platform for raising awareness about how to care for the environment. But this is just the beginning! In the future we plan on organizing sports activities for children with special needs and working with other schools in our city and even within our region, if we can manage it. I’m sure that by the end of the year the great team of students I work with and all the members of the school parliament that support me will have done many projects and contributed to many good causes.