2010-2011 Ambassadorial Scholar, Vera Belazelkoska
Click Here To View Vera's Travel Pages
Dear Rotarians and friends,
I am thrilled to have the pleasure to introduce myself to you, and also share with you my experiences and insights as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar representing District 5960 for the 2010-2011 school year. My name is Vera Belazelkoska, and I am born and raised in the small Balkan Republic of Macedonia. As an immigrant to the US at age fourteen, continuing my life in the US on a student visa when my parents immigrated to Toronto, Canada in 2007, I began my personal growth as a global citizen. I am graduating this May from St. Olaf College with a BA in Political Science and Economics. Through my studies on campus and abroad, and my hands-on international experiences in the field of grassroots economic development and microfinancing in Thailand, Namibia and Nicaragua, I have focused my passions and skills toward initiatives that aim to empower marginalized groups in societies across the world.
This upcoming year I will spend teaching English at the University of Chiang Mai in Thailand, a city in which I spent a few months volunteering with a leprosy village. I hope to return to the community and spend every free moment from work working on their efforts to enhance the income-generating projects they began implementing during my last visit. Coming back from this year of teaching and service I will be journeying down to Colombia, Argentina or Turkey to represent the Rotary mission and spread the Rotary ideals of intercultural dialogue, tolerance and goodwill. I hope to take courses in Latin American or Middle Eastern politics and economics, with a strong focus on economic development, economic discrimination, and the complex dynamic among minority groups and the state, NGOs, and the rest of the population. Additionally, I hope to take an active role in a local NGO's initiative in providing credit to the working poor, especially working through women microentrepreneurs in the community.
I am extremely honored and excited to take on the role of a Rotary Ambassador. The Rotary's methods of working internationally to fund health initiatives or economic development projects by building relationships based on respect and friendship with the local community, rather than relationships based on patron dependency, fits with my core values extremely well. I hope to further Rotary's efforts in making connections with the local community and grassroots initiatives that work to economically empower disenfranchised groups of society, especially those excluded from the labor market, struggling to make ends meet.
After my year in Colombia, Argentina or Turkey, I hope to pursue a PhD in International Development with a strong focus on asset-based community economic development. My experience as an ambassador living and working with local, grassroots initiatives will contribute to my already-influential and defining experiences from the shantytowns of Namibia and barrios of Nicaragua, as to prepare me to pursue higher education and go on to make a difference in the world. Whether I journey on to working with intergovernmental agencies such as the World Bank, or the UNDP, or whether I continue working on the grassroots, non-profit level, I will always carry the Rotary's motto--"Service Above Self." I am looking forward to representing the Northfield Rotary Club and the Rotary District 5960 in the country of my placement, all while creating a family among the local Rotarians, mentors at my university, and co-workers from the development initiative I plan to learn from and contribute to.
Stay tuned for my country of placement & the epic, lengthy blog that is yet to come!
Email Vera Belazelkoska GMail Acct
URL for Travel Pages: http://rotary5960.org/scholars/index.cfm?pScholar=vbel