An Intercultural Way to “emPower” Young Leaders

Article published on April 12, 2010
community published
Article published on April 12, 2010

Author: Stevica Levajkovski

Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation offers an intercultural “emPower” program for young adults coming from 3 different continents. All 17 students gather together in Switzerland to attend a 9 months training program and live together in one big house where they share everything.

Challenging enough for me, I took the risk to apply and I was lucky enough to be one of the selected. How did all this come out?

At that time, during 2007/2008, I was an active volunteer in the Center for Non-formal Education – Triagolnik. The organization started cooperating with the Swiss Foundation called: Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation. As a partner organization, Triagolnik got the opportunity to send 2 young people from Macedonia to take part in the “emPower” program.

I applied and I was chosen to go. With my long experience in youth work I had too many expectations about the entire study program. The fact that I was going to live in Switzerland for 9 months with all those different people, coming from such different backgrounds from mine, made me feel even more excited. The preparations took a long time, almost a year of attending interviews and taking English tests, visa procedures and papers being completed. Yet, the support from the Pestalozzi Foundation and the coordinator of “emPower” program, Mr. Samir Haskic, was excellent.

The time to depart arrived and since I had never in my life left home for such a long time,I had a strange feeling that this will be just another regular seminar alike those that last around one week. I was so wrong. It turned up to be something really difficult to put into words.

The plane landed on Swiss land. The Zurich airport in front of me, I headed into a strange small train with no driver. I immediately heard the cows with bells, yodeling voices and all the tourist attractions from the Zurich airport. Hmm… “Nicely done” – I said to myself. Impressed by the airport I went out with my colleague Driton (the second participant from Macedonia). The coordinator Samir Haskic was waiting for us in front of the airport and took us to Trogen, a village close to St. Gallen, in the house where we spent the rest of our stay in Switzerland.

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