Marija Veljkovic, Serbia

Encouraging students to see beyond

Read the essay written by Marija Veljkovic about her experience in New Mexico with Global One to One, her professional journey, and what inspires her to make a difference in the field of education.

Micro is macro and macro is micro… These could be prefixes to -CHALLENGE, -INFLUENCE, -WORLD. And, here we come to Global One to One and Access Serbia, American and Serbian students.

Encouraging students to see beyond, to appreciate and cherish differences, nurture their natural inclinations toward the independence of opinions and creativity, to support and tolerate, to enrich their cultural beings…. These are some parts of the backbone of the Access (Serbia) program and Global One to One organization. It was the kids who motivated us to continue our collaboration with Global One to One via pen pal letters.

Namely, the Access Serbia team of wonderful people and dearest Sarah Wilkinson and her team opened one more window for students. This valuable opportunity resulted in unforgettable reactions of our students upon receiving letters from their American pen pals. The mentioned window refers to the real-life/practical evidence that challenges, interests, joys, habits are shared. Same, similar, or different viewpoints are shared, as well. Here, there, everywhere… The students’ realization that we are all connected despite physical distances has been the realization of one of our maxims ” micro is macro and macro is micro”.

Mistakes are welcomed… No one has been judged because of them. And, that has been a huge revelation for our students.

Speaking of mistakes, I have to be honest that I am uncertain whether my professional story is adequate as it consists of a few failures.

First, I entered the world of education by failing to pursue my teen wish to change my country for the better by enrolling in the Department of Diplomacy. The choice of studying English at a university was my response to my struggle to speak it properly. It was a serious, but persistent struggle which has been transformed into the process of constant professional upgrading.

And, secondly, before becoming a Serbian delegate in the USA (my dream eventually and indirectly came true), there had been many lesson plans of mine which had been poorly marked by my supervisors. Yet, thanks to that criticism and persistence, I could say that I started feeling more comfortable among remarkable Access Serbia educators. My contributions are micro, but they are still contributions. I know I am privileged to be surrounded by all of those brilliant minds and yes, there are still steps that I need to take in order to become a good educator.

Yes, not a teacher, but an educator. This is a transformation that Access Serbia has provided us with. So, while educating students, we educate ourselves.

These things may sound idyllic, but reality has never been more challenging for encouraging students to keep their minds open. Actually, the process of educating people has always faced various obstacles. Yet, nowadays, we have come to a point when common sense is problematic. And by common sense, I refer to protecting our Mother Nature.

That is something we mustn't decline. The fight for a tree, a stream, and fresh air is ‘un-give-up-able’. Educating the youth is the way we fight for health, peace, and a brighter future. And, all the educators need to keep proving that “one person can make a difference, and everyone should try”.

Marija Veljkovic, Serbia

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