StoriesBack to Stories
Celebrating Global Youth Service Day in Sarajevo
By Chloe A., YES Abroad 2021-2022 and Virtual Alumna 2020-2021, Bosnia and Herzegovina, from Bay Point, CA
Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) fell on a hectic week this year in Sarajevo with Eid (or Bajram, in Bosnia and Herzegovina) approaching, but it fit well with the atmosphere of giving and self-improvement during Ramadan. The first activity I got to participate in for GYSD was helping fill Bajram packages for children in the town of Konjević Polje. For a couple of weeks, a donation box had been left out at my school to collect snacks, sweets, and school supplies. My friends and I all bought some of our favorite treats like Kinder Bueno and peanut butter pretzels to add to the pile. When we were ready to make the packages, the teacher organizing the event provided us with cute boxes to fill. She had bought 50 boxes, but it quickly became evident that we had more donations than that. After filling all of them with food and stationery, there was still a massive pile of snacks on the table and bags we hadn’t emptied out yet. The teacher grabbed her wallet and ran to the store to buy more boxes. In the end, we were able to make around 70 packages, and I hope they can make Bajram even more cheerful for many children!
Next, as a cohort, the four of us YES Abroad students in Sarajevo organized a charity trivia event to raise money for a Sarajevo-based charity called Pomozi.ba. Their current projects include aid for Ukraine and providing food for Ramadan in places like Yemen and Palestine. We hosted the game night at our school, Druga Gimnazija, and students donated a bit of money to play in teams. We made sure to write many questions about both Bosnian and American history in the spirit of the program, and the participants got quite competitive! As the game got heated, there was a lot of yelling, groaning, and bartering for more points.
My favorite moment was after I asked the question, “How many times has Bosnia and Herzegovina qualified for the World Cup, and what years?” It was meant to be a 2-point question, but when I checked answers, some students tried to heckle me for extra points. One had written all the final scores, and another student had even drawn out the Bosnian team’s positions and player names! In the end we had a three-way tie for the win, and the champions shared their prize of chocolate with the other teams.
As a final activity, I’ve arranged an event with the English language club I volunteered with last semester. One activity I really loved doing as part of a charity club in high school was making cards for nursing home residents, and I thought it would be a fun way for the students here to practice their language skills and be creative. Once we’ve made all our cards, I will reach out to a nursing facility in my hometown to receive them.
Global Youth Service Day was a great motivator to find volunteering opportunities and meet some new people in my host community. It felt great to give back to the people that have taken me in here and have fun at the same time.