On June 23, 2017, the United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD), and its local partner in Skopje, Macedonia, the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation (MCIC) kicked off the 3rd Annual Birthright Macedonia program, marking the beginning of an unbelievable three-week journey for eight students of Macedonian heritage from the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom to our homeland, Macedonia.
Tyler Murray, Valentina Talevski, Natasa Petreska, Dillon Ognenovski, Nicole Krings, Jeremy Drossinis, Ilija Vlcevski and James Cvetkovski will be interning at institutions complimentary to their academic goals, their career and their common interests.
Internships are being held in the Cabinet of the President of the Republic of Macedonia, at the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University “St. Cyril and Methodius,” in the SOS Children’s Village, in the Macedonian Red Cross, in Healthgrouper, Nextsense and the Macedonian Human Resources Association. During their stay in Macedonia, they will live with host families and will be able to closely see the everyday life and culture of the Macedonians. MCIC organizes additional activities during the weekends when students can visit important cultural events that will take place in Macedonia.
Peter Dallas, a member of the UMD Council who was born in the United States with roots from Gevgelija and Aegean Macedonia, developed Birthright Macedonia. The reason for starting Birthright was his concern over the weakening of the Macedonian diaspora’s ties with their roots. “Relationships are weakening especially among young people from the first generation of Macedonians living abroad due to growing assimilation. Therefore, I wanted to do something to help the Macedonians abroad to maintain their relationship with their homeland,” he said at the opening of the project.
“Birthright Macedonia first started in 2015,” said Aleksandar Krzalovski, the lead Executive Director of MCIC. “The participants of the previous two years have called the stay in Macedonia ‘an incredible experience’ that every young man/woman with roots from Macedonia should have. Some of them are third generation born outside Macedonia, and the first in their family to return to Macedonia after the emigration. We are glad that every year we have an increasing number of students.” He also added that such activities in cooperation with UMD could strengthen confidence and contribute to more intensive cooperation with the diaspora.
Birthright Macedonia’s primary goal is giving an opportunity to young Macedonians born and living outside of Macedonia to get to know their cultural heritage and establish contacts and friendships between themselves and their peers in Macedonia.