By Nemanja Ostojic (’12; Montenegro/IA)
I have returned from my exchange year in the June of 2012. Filled with energy, motivation, and a mindset to change the world, I was now that kid, who likes to be involved into everything. I have started studying economics at the University of Montenegro in 2013. This was a big decision for me, but I still think that it was the right one. It combined by interest in business, project implementation and technology into one. Driven with the entrepreneurial spirit, I have started participating in the numerous competitions and after a while, results started coming. Firstly I won national competition in writing business plans organized by the US Embassy in Montenegro and represented my country on the international business plan competition in Croatia, where I have left a great impression. I managed to enter the top 10 business plans in Montenegro for students, and win a sponsorship from Montenegrin Investments Development Fund as well. Based on the academic success I had during my freshman year, my hometown, Kotor, decided to award me with a scholarship for talented students. It was during my sophomore year, that I became interested in social entrepreneurship. My interest reached a new peak when I was selected to represent Montenegro on the Telenor Youth Forum in Oslo, Norway. It was global conference, gathering 28 amazing individuals from 14 different countries. We worked on our business plans and created a future plan that we are going to implement. During my junior year I got scholarship from my hometown once again, and won a Montenegro business plan competition organized by our capital city. In the November of 2015 I was invited to participate in the Summit of 100 Young Leaders of Southeastern Europe. It was a great honor, as it represented that all work that I have done in the past years had actual impact. Currently I am working on an entertainment website which should launch in spring of 2016.
During all this time I was an alumni of the FLEX program, and a after a year, I became board member of MAYAA (Montenegrin American Youth Alumni Association) which is Montenegrin NGO that gathers alumni from all USA funded exchange programs. Together we have implemented projects of great importance, always stressing the topics that were important to the youth and their development. Some of the projects that we are the most proud of, talked about entrepreneurship, human rights, social inclusion of youth, youth empowerment and activism, and civic education. Last conference that we organized took place last week, allowing participants to discuss the solution of the high unemployment rate of youth in Montenegro. We are recognized as one of the leading NGO when it comes to youth work, and many more, both national and regional events are coming soon. As an individual I have organized a project “Flip the playground” in my home town, where, with the help of volunteers and partner organizations I managed to reconstruct the neglected playground for youth. Also I coordinated projects for Food Bank Montenegro that gathered food and all the other necessities for families in need.
I was as involved as I could be, and worked with some amazing people along the way. That motivated me to apply for a national coordinator position when it became available in the august of 2015. I remember how important the role of our Alumni Coordinator was when I was leaving for the USA. He was very helpful and encouraging, and he really motivated us to do our best. I wanted to be that person that will be there for the upcoming generations. I wanted to transfer my knowledge and help them be active members of their communities once they return home. I wanted to bring new energy and bring the best out of them. My goal is to have all the alumni working together as one, implementing projects, creating opportunities and improving their surroundings. I wish to create a great atmosphere and connect with alumni from other countries so that we can improve our bonds and create meaningful projects together. In the end I want to get new ideas from them as well, and connect them with the older, more experienced alumni, so that we can all improve.
My journey as Alumni Coordinator for Montenegro began in August. I am very pleased to say that this is what dream job looks like. All the paperwork in the world can’t compete with the awesomeness of my alumni, their creativity and motivation to change their community. Not only that we expanded our networks, but we also formed some great friendships. You can feel that synergy from all the projects that we do. Starting from Halloween parties for children, networking Thanksgiving dinners to professional development and community work, the astonishing atmosphere that they create is almost touchable. During November, 15 of the most active alumni participated in FLEX-Ability conference in Moldova that gathered alumni from Serbia, Montenegro, Ukraine and Moldova. Divided into 4 groups, depending of their interest they formed groups and created grant proposals for projects that are going to take place in their home country. They are going to organize debates, form discussion clubs, do workshops, teach English, and much more on the topics of Human Rights, Anti-Corruption, Sustainable Development and English Instruction. They always strive to have an impact, whether they are giving small motivational notes to strangers, working with Red Cross or teaching the importance of activism. They are the true ambassadors of what the Montenegrin youth should look like. As an alumni association we are very excited for the future projects and eager to take on new challenges. I invite you to follow our work on social media.
Nemanja Ostojic FLEX Alumni Montenegro
FB: https://www.facebook.com/nemanja03 FB: https://www.facebook.com/flexalumnimontenegro
LI: https://me.linkedin.com/in/nemanjaostojic LI : https://me.linkedin.com/in/flexacmn
Instagram : @nemanjaostojic3 Instagram : @flexalumnimn
Twitter : @ostojicnemanja Twitter : @flexalumnimn