By Merima Muhic (YES 2015-2016, Bosnia and Herzegovina, hosted by ACES in Apex, NC)
Global Youth Service Day is the largest youth service and civic action event in the world. It is the only event that celebrates and builds capacity for all youth aged 5-25 to help their communities thrive by working together for the common good. This year GYSD took place the weekend of April 17-19 and would eventually be extended through June 19, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This event draws the attention of hundreds of YES and FLEX alumni from all over the world, as they do activities during the month of April and over GYSD weekend.
As the COVID-19 outbreak has prevented many alumni from doing in-person activities, a group of YES and FLEX alumni coordinators organized a series of meetings to talk about ideas on how to adapt to the new reality, and most importantly – how to do GYSD without leaving our houses. As a result, it was decided to move GYSD events online, like many other activities that have been put on for the past two months. Moving the event online also enabled the events to be conducted regionally to connect alumni from seven Southeast European countries.
The main GYSD event, entitled "GYSD Virtual Project Presentation", took place on April 18 over the GYSD weekend. The webinar focused on highlighting previous GYSD events and other successful projects in the respective countries. One alumnus/a from each country talked about a project organized by them, what they focused on, what the challenges were, and how it could be done across borders. 40 participants in total joined, out of which 23 were YES alumni, 16 were FLEX alumni, and 7 were staff members. Klea Troka (YES 2011-2012, Albania, hosted by YFU USA in Delaware, OH) talked about Albania's project Recyclable Cans for a Healthy Environment, Asja Alispahic (YES 2017-2018, Bosnia and Herzegovina, hosted by AFS in Warren, NJ) talked about Bosnia and Herzegovina's project TALL (Teamwork Activism Leadership Learning), Shebnem Niazi (YES 2014-2015, Bulgaria, hosted by World Link in Kalona, IA) talked about Bulgaria's project Bold Native - a movie about animal rights, Anda Rama (YES 2016-2017, Kosovo, hosted by ASSE in Berlin, PA) talked about Kosovo's project Run with Color, Vesa Saqipi (YES 2016-2017, North Macedonia, hosted by ACES in Oregon, OH) talked about North Macedonia's project Joyful Christmas, while alumni from Serbia and Montenegro talked about their projects Braille all over Serbia and Food Drive They Need Our Help.
This event was to inspire cooperation, the sharing of ideas, and celebrate the global youth service spirit in these difficult times. This was done because there was a significant number of participants from all countries and they had many questions about the projects, which prompted a fruitful discussion. Even after the event finished, alumni sent questions to their coordinators about projects, which were exchanged among coordinators.