Ten years ago, in August 2006, 71 high school students from Serbia set their feet on U.S. soil to become the first full generation of FLEX (then A-SMYLE ) program. At the time, they probably did not know that it was just the beginning of their journey to become the leaders of tomorrow. Fast forward to today, November 12, 2016 to be exact, thanks to Nemanja Miltenovic, FLEX Alumni Coordinator for Serbia, 14 alumni from the first generation (2007) reunited!
The American Councils office in Belgrade was overflowing with joy. A lot of ’07 alumni hadn’t seen or spoken to each other in years, due to work obligations and taking different paths in life. Alumni came to Belgrade from all over Serbia: from Novi Sad, to Prijepolje, to Nis. The event even reached alumni in the U.S. and the EU! There was a special guest from the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade, Cultural Affairs Assistant Tijana Hrkalovic, who has been supporting the program from the beginning. FLEX City Representatives for Pancevo, Marko Ajder ’15, Vranje/Belgrade, Vukasin Velickovic ’13, and Program Officer Rebecca Strattan also attended the event and talked to alumni about the current FLEX Alumni community and potential ways for the senior alumni to contribute.
“It was truly heartwarming to hear how grateful alumni were for this opportunity to re-connect with one another and with the program. Thanks to this event, we now have new plans for senior alumni to engage younger alumni, including sharing employment and volunteering opportunities. Many of the senior alumni also expressed interest in getting involved in the activities younger alumni are organizing, and even potentially working on grant proposals together.” – Rebecca Strattan
The first generation alumni are very successful group! Alumni shared their stories and professional successes, which span various professional spheres. Some alumni work for international companies, others are leaders in business, while others work in the fields of marketing and technology. There are also editors in chiefs at online portals, language teachers, and professional translators among the senior alumni.
“Many of these alumni – all young professionals – cited their exchange experience as a significant factor in their current employment, whether through giving them the skills they needed to be successful, or inspiring them to pursue a particular path.” – Rebecca Strattan
Hope to hear more of your stories from senior alumni!
-Written by FLEX Alumni Coordinator Nemanja Miltenovic