Birthright Macedonia’s 5th year came to a close in Macedonia on July 18th, and the participants were encouraged to reflect on what they had experienced over the past three weeks. Beyond working with Macedonian based organizations, the participants also got to experience the beautiful culture Macedonia has to offer.
Their journey began at Porta Makedonija on June 28th, where nine young Macedonians – Marija Anevska, Nicole Krings, Evan Nitchov, Luka Petrusevski, Anastasia Stojcev, Stefani Taskova, Dona Todorovska, Erin Velloff and Kylee Velloff – had the opportunity to reconnect with their Macedonian roots. The participants came to Macedonia from Australia, Canada, and the United States. Some had never been to Macedonia before.
The first weekend, the young Macedonians explored Mt. Vodno and Matka Canyon in the Skopje region. They got to take in the amazing views that their first stop in Macedonia had to offer.
The next weekend, everyone got to experience Lake Ohrid – the third oldest lake in the world, and a UNESCO heritage site. They also got to take in all the beauties it has to offer, like St. Naum, St. Kaneo, Tsar Samoil Fortress, Ancient Theatre, Plaoshnik, and more.
Marija Anevska, from Australia, said that seeing the beautiful sites of Macedonia was “[a] wonderful opportunity to experience Macedonia from a unique perspective. The Birthright program has provided me with experiences, memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.”
Another exciting opportunity was the 46th Annual Galichnik Wedding celebrations. They got to experience the three-day traditional wedding and celebration, which has been used to preserve Macedonian traditions and folklore.
After experiencing the traditional wedding, Evan Nitchov, of Canada said “It was great experiencing my country’s culture as well as old traditions. The trip organizers as well as participants helped create a great environment. A must see for any young Macedonian looking to explore their roots.”
The closing ceremony of Birthright Macedonia was something to be remembered! Roughly 80 people attended the ceremony on Thursday, July 18th at Hotel Arka in Skopje, Macedonia. Some of those in attendance included:
• Ambassador Kate Byrnes (USA)
• Ambassador Carlo Romeo (Italy)
• French Embassy Representative
• Stojan Nikolov – UMD Chairman
• Metodija A. Koloski – UMD President
• Aleksandar Krzalovski – MCIC First Executive Director
• Nicholas Thaw – UMD Advisory Council Member
• Peter Dallas – UMD Advisory Council Member
• Maria Malinovska – UMD Los Angeles Chair
• Diaspora Minister Edmond Ademi
• Boris Josifovski – Chief of Staff to President Gjorge Ivanov
• Vasko Naumovski – Former Macedonian Ambassador to USA
• Business community leaders from diaspora and Macedonia
• Members of the think-tank community
• Past Birthright participants/alumni
Krzalovski, Dallas, Koloski, Nikolov, and all 9 participants delivered speeches. Koloski and Nikolov presented a plaque to Birthright Macedonia Founder Peter Dallas for helping to bring the program to fruition and giving back to our homeland. They also presented plaques to Jasmina Chaushoska and Aleksandar Krzalovski for their outstanding service to Birthright Macedonia over the past 5 years. UMD truly appreciates their, and MCIC’s hard work and dedication to making Birthright what it is today.
It was a big celebration to end the students’ time in Macedonia! Generation M’s Australia Representative, Stefani Taskova noted that, “Birthright Macedonia is an important program which every young adult with Macedonian heritage should participate in at least once. Apart from exposing you to another country, you get to meet new people from all over the world with different backgrounds. I had a great time during Birthright, and if I could do it again, I wouldn’t give it another thought.”
“Participating in Birthright allowed me to experience Macedonia like I never would have been able to if I was just visiting there. I was able to experience the culture and explore the city of Skopje. I met so many amazing people and have memories that will last a lifetime.” – Kylee Velloff, USA.
“Birthright was an amazing experience for me, especially as a third generation Macedonian American. I had never been to Macedonia before, and this program allowed me to be fully immersed into the culture and placed with a wonderful host family. I even had the opportunity to meet my cousins that still live there. Thank you Birthright for the unforgettable experience!” – Erin Velloff, USA.
APPLY NOW for the 2020 Birthright Macedonia Program HERE.
DONATE NOW to Support Birthright Macedonia HERE.