My goal as a volunteer is to help students study abroad in America. They must pass their English exam through the exchange program.
I understand this is very competitive, but this just needs to be organized better to prevent chaos.
The Kennedy-Lugar YES Youth and Exchange and Study is a one-year exchange program, targeting 10th and 11th year high school students to study abroad in America. This exchange program requires students from all over the nation to take an English exam and if they passed the test, they will move on to the next part of the exam in that following week. I am speaking for my experience in Tirana.
My experience was great until it went downhill towards the end of the day. It was a very long process and took a lot of patience. I could not express how awful this was because everything was disorganized! From picking up required documents to getting in line to take the test, it was pure chaos. The organizer who ran this event must not know how to run it properly and it seems to be understaffed. This is Albania and I say this with contempt. I am not happy and I bet I can do a job better than the staff there.
First of all, the lines, actually…there was no line! It’s nonexistent. So many students from different cities crowded around the table where they needed to pick up a card that must be filled to take the test. The table had 3 female staff, checking the required documents in order to let students take their test. This could be done quicker if there were more staff and tables to help ease the process. The lady checking the documents had to shout out repetitively to step back from the table because it was CHAOS!
Second, the program should mention somewhere on the flyer that if students did get selected for the next exam on the following day, they should have mentioned that on the flyer! It’s convenient and let students prepare the following day! There was a lack of information that they should have mentioned more somewhere on their flyer. It gives students some time to be mentally prepared. It would be considerate to let students know ahead of time about what to expect when waiting for a long period of time just to take the exam. Students wondered off, confused and worried because they had no clue if they should give up, or wait and take the opportunity to take the exam.
I brought a lot of my students to Tirana because I believe their English is strong. I want them to take this opportunity to study in America. Unfortunately, not all of them got the chance to take the exam due to the lack of time we had left. It took the whole entire day when it could have taken us half a day if YES wasn’t so chaotic. Our furgon drivers were rude and very disrespectful because they could not wait any longer for students taking the exam. It was getting late and cold. Some students gave up and wanted to go back home. I was disappointed that it did not turn out how I wanted. It was a waste of time and I felt like a failure. Also, there was a language barrier.
So now, I know what to do and what not to do for the next YES exam day. Looking at the flaws, this will help me prepare better next year. Better luck next time! And I do hope my students get selected! It was a very tiring day!
That morning, we left our town at 6:30 am and arrived to Tirana at 8. A few students managed to get their card with their earliest scheduled test time. The unlucky ones had later testing time that they ended up giving up due to lack of time.
On the lighter note, I met Ismail Kadare. He is one of the well-known albanian writers in history. I felt lucky. My students were able to identify him immediately in Tirana.