“This is not the end, it’s only the beginning.” These words were a turning point for Anghelina Gherghelejinic ’18 (Edinet, Moldova /Tekonsha, Michigan) while attending the FLEX Re-Entry Seminar in June of 2018, shortly after returning from the U.S. As the summer went by, Anghelina realized that the key to a successful and full alumni experience was her active participation.
Being an exchange student helped her reset her priorities in life and gain a better sense of civic responsibility. “While in the U.S., I was involved in various activities, from school clubs to community service. I overcame my fear of public speaking by leading country presentations for Americans, improved my communication skills, became more tolerant and flexible. I pushed my limits and built my character by practicing sports. I developed a great desire to make a change when coming home”. Therefore, after the Re-entry Seminar in Chisinau, she was motivated like never before.
Soon she successfully applied for the City Representative (CR) position in her town Edinet. Every month Anghelina would organize activities that benefited her local community. “People confront a variety of problems on daily basis and I tried to organize events to help youth be part of the solution of these problems. We worked together to help the environment, discuss and develop projects on social inclusion, discrimination, and lack of educational opportunities for youth. I also focused on fostering activism and volunteerism through each activity.”
In a short amount of time, Anghelina managed to motivate her friends, school administration, and even the mayor of Edinet to engage actively in community building. The alumna led informative sessions on women’s health and raising awareness about HIV/AIDS. She helped over 30 families by organizing a clothing drive. Together with Peace Corps volunteer Emma Bourgeois, Anghelina held English classes and workshops on topics such as American culture, human rights, leadership, tolerance and non-discrimination. In April of 2019, Anghelina organized a Global Youth Service Day project that revitalized a local stadium by mobilizing volunteers to pick up trash and plant trees. The activity gathered dozens of active citizens, including the mayor.
In June Anghelina co-planned a summer camp for future volunteers, supported by the FLEX Alumni Grant program. “One of my favorite projects was the New Generation Summer School, which included an educational program for students aged 12-15. During this one-week camp, participants were involved in team building activities, study visits, and brainstorming sessions on project planning. More than three months have passed since the camp’s completion, but the newly-formed team of volunteers continues their activities and passes on the same values to their peers.”
However, the effort behind the success was huge. Anghelina had to face many challenges while planning her projects. “Volunteering is a rare thing in my town, so it was quite hard to spark interest in youth and adults at the beginning. I was sad to see that people were indifferent to local problems or opportunities. But, as change doesn’t happen overnight, I continued to work, and I will continue fighting for the better”. Despite the challenges, Anghelina managed to achieve outstanding results, organizing impactful projects and even receiving an award from the FLEX program for the best work of the month by a City Representative!
Her experience as a FLEX City Representative turned out to be meaningful not only for herself, but for her town as well. “My favorite part of being a City Representative was seeing the positive results after the projects, noticing that even a small initiative made a difference in someone’s life. This position was the perfect opportunity to make connections with other alumni, NGOs, and leaders in my country”.
Anghelina Gherghelejinic is a wonderful example of how City Representatives make the FLEX Alumni community stronger and more cohesive. They inspire not only fellow alumni, but the whole community to act. “I think our strength is that we (FLEX alumni) are a team and in this case, even our small acts of kindness and efforts, if combined together, have the power to make the world a better place.”
Today Anghelina continues implementing projects as a second year City Representative in Edinet.
Written by Victoria Lungu ‘13