To fulfill their potential, youth need encouragement, direction and the opportunities the leadership the Only Balkan leadership school provides.
By Miki Trajkovski for Southeast European Times in Ohrid -- 05/09/12
Some of this year's participants at the Ohrid School for Young Leaders. [Miki Trajkovski/SETimes]
For a third year, Ohrid is hosting the region's only School for Young Leaders, which is establishing itself as a magnet for young people in business, politics and the military.
This year, the school offered an opportunity to 42 youths of diverse educational and professional backgrounds to interact and learn from established world leaders, network as well as formulate their vision of Macedonia's future development.
"These are the leaders who want to invest in their people, i.e., in those who will follow and motivate them to achieve the best results," Gordica Karanfilovska, the school manager, told SETimes.
Karanfilovska explained the dearth of such leaders in recent years is why Macedonia President Gjorge Ivanov initiated the project.
Former presidents of Serbia and Bulgaria, Boris Tadic and Georgi Prvanov, as well as former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, supported the idea of establishing leadership schools in their countries.
"Still being considered is a regional youth leadership school," Karanfilovska said.
In Ohrid, world renowned politicians, diplomats, businessmen -- including heads of multinational corporations -- bankers and foreign and domestic academics, shared their knowledge and experience with the young Macedonians for nearly two weeks.
"There is a huge potential here, but these young people need direction on how to achieve," Richard Greyson, professor at Oxford University, told SETimes. "But that potential needs to be worked on."
Pioneers are needed in all societal spheres, according to Samuel Samak, vice president of Mikrosan, one of Europe's leaders in the composites industry.
"While there is a deficiency of young leaders everywhere, not investing in the existing ones will bring no results," Samak told SETimes.
"The country needs leaders to work together in developing big projects that will [maximally] help Macedonia," Mary Mares-Awe, expert on strategic communication and political marketing, told SETimes.
The participants were unequivocal the knowledge and contacts they are acquiring will help them in their professional pursuits.
"We all have a vision to arrive somewhere in life, regardless of whether we view ourselves as leaders of an institution or of a formal or informal group. The world remains to the youth, regardless of the fact that the older ones run everything," Pavle Zimbakov, a school participant, told SETimes.
Samer Faza is one of many young professionals in the region that have sought employment opportunities abroad.
He resides in Jordan, but plans to combine his current employment and leadership skills to advance Macedonia's economy.
"I work for Jordan's national airline and hope to apply my leadership in promoting Macedonia there," Faza told SETimes.
Ivanov urged the future young leaders to start implementing their ideas and newly gained knowledge as soon as possible.
"I wish that all the skills you have gained here you will apply in your life," Ivanov said. In past two years, the school organised leadership camps and led an international drive in blood donation.
The school is a good example of joint state and private sector investment in the future of young people. In the past three years from it more than 100 participants in one way or another have become leaders in the areas where they live and work.