Sandra and Besar – Different ethnic communities, common interests and goals

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Sandra Jakimovska and Besar Ismaili are students at the secondary vocational school ASUC “Boro Petrusevski” in Skopje where the teaching process is conducted in Macedonian and Albanian language of instruction. Even though they study under the same roof, they attend classes separately – Sandra in Macedonian and Besar in Albanian language of instruction. However, this does not prevent them from socializing as part of the traffic education school club attended by students from both languages of instruction.

“I am very pleased with the school club activities and the entire experience in the past period. I learned many new things through the club, but the most important thing I learned is how to be friends with someone from a different ethnic background. I had an opportunity to meet many students from different nationalities. We young people should not divide ourselves according to nationality”, Sandra shared her impression from her participation in the joint club.

Sandra and Besar have never even met before participating in the school club. “Sandra and I did not know each other before the start of the joint traffic education school club. In order to learn more about other cultures, we should spend time together. I would definitely want to continue with this school club until the fourth year of my studies and I even hope to graduate from university, as well”, Besar added.

Through the school club supported by the USAID Youth Ethnic Integration Project, students from different ethnic communities have an opportunity to collaborate on various initiatives. As a result of the regular meetings, young people reduce their prejudice against their peers that come from different ethnic communities and serve as an example for other students in the school.

“Other students in the school have different perceptions. Some think that it is an excellent initiative, and others wonder why we participate in such a school club at all, but I do not see it that way. For me, every such activity is a great advantage as I can learn more”, said Sandra.

As a result of the activities of the club, the students volunteered to organize a lecture for the students from the “Jashar Bej Shkupi” primary school in Skopje. They showed the youngest ones how to use the different types of protective helmets in order to safely ride their bicycles in traffic. Previously the students organized a similar action – they made traffic signs from wood, cardboard and plastic and donated them to several kindergartens and primary schools.

“With the construction of traffic signs and the presentation about protective helmets, it was us, more than anyone else, that learned many new things. The knowledge we have is important for us, but other children should also be informed”, added Bessar.

Starting from the 2018/2019 school year, the USAID Youth Ethnic Integration Project supports joint school clubs in multilingual schools. Teachers who used to lead school clubs in a different language of instruction now work together in the same school club with all the students. Such initiatives are supported in 20 schools, enabling more than 400 students to get to know each other better and jointly create products and organize civic actions.

This activity is part of the Youth Ethnic Integration Project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

This article is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of MCEC and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.