Interview with Lina Hristovska: Тhe Idea Fusion Center gives voice to young people and makes a difference in society

Over the past year, students from ten primary and secondary schools across the country have been part of the digital Idea Fusion Center which is supported by the USAID Youth Ethnic Integration Project. The highly motivated students collaborated and participated in the development and implementation of creative ideas aimed at improving the state in their schools and the environment.
Lina Hristovska, a student at the primary school “Goce Delchev” in Bitola, has been a part of the Idea Fusion Center from the very beginning and the initiative she proposed was realized in her school. Read the interview and learn more about her experience with this activity.

Lina Hristovska, a student at the primary school “Goce Delchev” in Bitola

What was your experience with the Idea Fusion Center?

Honestly, it was great. I think I got involved in this activity at the right time and I feel very grateful to have been part of it. All the meetings, trainings and presentations helped me with my self-confidence, which has always been a bit of a problem in my life. I also quite enjoyed the fact that most of the time we were able to communicate in English and improve our English communication skills because at school we only speak the language during our English classes.

Even though the activities took place online, I had a feeling that I was meeting new people and I never thought that socializing online was a hindrance. All of us had different ethnic backgrounds, but we got along extremely well. Sometimes the students in our school are separated by their ethnic backgrounds. This happens in other schools, as well. However, this activity really helped us to get along well and I am pleased to say that our different languages of instruction were never a bone of contention between us and we were always able to find a way to communicate.

What did you like the most about your overall involvement in the Idea Fusion Center?

I would put the trainings first because I have learned a lot from them. Instead of studying on my own, I studied during those trainings, which made things a lot easier for me. Furthermore, I also quite enjoyed the meetings, the presentations and all the other activities. Being a panelist at the online Earth Day event was another great experience for me because we were able to listen to the opinions of environmentalists who encouraged us to make a difference. I think this was very motivating and it helped us to be on par with them over the course of the event.

What did you learn from being involved in the Idea Fusion Center and what skills did you acquire?

The activities we carried out as part of the Idea Fusion Center increased my self-confidence, creativity, sociability… I developed several new qualities and became more motivated. I learned that there is still good in the world. I used to feel like I was losing hope, but this experience restored my confidence in humanity.

Do you think you have made a real difference in your environment through the Idea Fusion Center? Explain briefly what kind of changes have been introduced in your school.

The biggest change was the renovation of the school corner, which was an idea that we came up with on our own. I think I made a difference because both my classmates and the teachers noticed the change and thanked me for improving the place. This gave me a sense of fulfillment. Now the corner is operational and all the students gather there. There is more friendship among students who study in different languages of instruction and they are encouraged to spend time in the corner and study there together.

What challenges did you face when you were part of the Idea Fusion Center, especially since the activities took place online due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

There were no special challenges or problems. I do not think we could have got along any better even if we were able to be physically present. As I said before, I felt there was a true sense of togetherness. Admittedly, there were some technical problems, but they were out of our control and not very serious. Because the pandemic was stressful for everyone and going to school online came with its own set of challenges, when it was time to finally join the Center meetings, I felt as if I were taking a break from it all. I would say to myself, “Now is the time to have some fun instead of worrying about everything and being afraid of the pandemic.” It was a relief being able to learn and have fun at the same time.

Would you recommend the Idea Fusion Center to other students?

Yes, absolutely. It was a lot of fun. We had many activities and they helped us learn new things. Not only did the Center help the people we were trying to help, but it also helped us, the participating students. What is achieved through the Center is good for everyone. We can help many people, but even if it is just one person or one student, what is most important is that the voice of young people is heard and a difference in society is made.

In your opinion, how can young people be motivated to participate in activities for positive change in the community?

I think they can be motivated with presentations showing them what has been achieved so far, so that they can learn about it themselves and be able to take action. In my opinion, young people would be more motivated by their classmates because if they hear the opinion of someone who is the same age as them and see what he/she has been able to achieve, they will be more encouraged to be part of such activities for positive change.

How will you use the experience and knowledge you have acquired to create positive changes that will benefit young people in the future?

I will be able to use it in many different situations because we were provided trainings in various areas. For instance, the public speaking training was really helpful and I am certain it will come in handy in plenty of situations. Creativity will always be helpful, be it at school or in life in general. I feel this way because I do not think that I will ever forget or lose what I have learned. I will always need this knowledge and it will stay with me forever.

I will continue to use these skills in my secondary education, as well. I hope to be involved in the student parliament and I will try to be part of as many sections, activities and projects as possible so I could share my knowledge and make a difference.