Loving and Hoping Macedonia

Flag of the Republic of Macedonia (Wikipedia)

Easter vacation just ended, but I am still reminiscing the beautiful tidings it brings to my life.
Last year, I spent Easter largely in Ghana and Japan, learning  from West Africa and Asia- as you can imagine, it was related to youth futures.
This year I decided again and maybe for the last time this year, to leave the island of Great Britain and travel to South East Europe to the Balkan Peninsula and to the beautiful Republic of Macedonia.
Don’t get me wrong, it was never a holiday, and I am yet to start travelling for holidays. It’s always work, but I have found a way to make holiday in the midst of my work. But why decide to work in the Balkans, and why Macedonia? As I write, i am weeks past my thesis writing schedule, and several other assignments are pending. I should have spent more time on my GB obligations- not moving around. I am also on a lean budget, like every other student!
But this time I was on a special mission. A great mission that required me stop all that mattered in my life to go spend ten days with the loving people of Macedonia. My mission, with a group of other 8 Oxonians, was to share love in diverse ways with the people of Macedonia.  Share love? Yes, share the love of being, becoming, belonging and believing in the beauty of diversity in this world.
We spent 8 days giving lectures in universities, speaking to professionals in our diverse academic fields - history, geography, philosophy, theology, art, law and leadership.  This was in support of the Balkan Institute of Faith and Culture. The last weekend was spent at a Youth Leadership Conference with a group of 50 young people from around Macedonia. Such a moment reminded me of the passion to reach out to a generation that is so passionate about life. Speaking at this conference, and spending time talking to these young professionals made me realize how small the world can be. The same challenges we face in my country Kenya, are the same we faced in Macedonia. But most importantly, the zeal to bring change, and make an impact was there among the young people. A movement was building up, stiring hope for the future of the country. I can only summarize my speech to the Macedonia youth in these  words:

My memories of Macedonia can never be put down on paper, or this blog. A great transformation of how I view life, relate with people and appreciate diversity will forever remain ingrained in my heart. I can only share in few photos what it really felt like to be with the Balkans and spread the love.
You can't miss the statute of the Alexander III of Macedon,  commonly Alexander the Great at the Macedonia Square in the city of Skopje. This remained our reference point for every place we went. To the Macedonians, it's a piece of their history.

Being on a journey is great when you have to travel all these miles to learn quantum physics, nanotechnology, and re-ignite your passion for the real science! Here was at the Academy of Sciences, MANU.

On our way to the Turkish Bazaar, and across the bridge from the Macedonia to the Albanian part of the city.  The beauty of Macedonia is the mix of South East, Balkan and Eastern European cultures.

Out team became obsessed with pancakes, philosophy, peppermint tea and prayer. But i also became obsessed with their hot chocolate, each time each cafe served it differently.

Visiting the church of St. Clements at Skopje on our last  day. It must have been rebuilt after the 1963 earthquake

Our guest took us to Canyon Matka, just a few minutes drive out of town, this beautiful landscape was. I just wish  Macedonia would market their tourism products to the world!
What i actually did in Skopje!

In summary, i did present some interesting results arising from my current research on student's engagement in environmentalism in Kenya. The left poster does say it all in Macedonia language. The students and faculty of geography at the Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje inspired me to continue doing my research.