Sheepshead Resident Plays Pivotal Role In Bringing Balkan Leaders Before Students

Mevla Gavaz speaks before FEBA (Photos by Emel Stebleva)

The Federation of Balkan American Associations (FEBA) held their third annual “Road Map 2011” event last Thursday at Jacob Javits Center in New York, bringing in more than 3,000 members and guests. The event was coordinated by a Sheepshead Bay resident, and spotlights an organization that resonates with the neighborhood’s growing Balkan population.

Prime ministers of Balkan states such as Turkey, Macedonia, Albania and others inspired and encouraged Balkan-American students, highlighting their potential as future Balkan leaders.

For those not familiar with FEBA, it’s a non-profit, cultural, youth organization to provide support to Balkan-American students.

FEBA organizes a broad range of educational activities such as summits, lectures, seminars, leadership workshops, internships, after-school programs, language courses, SAT courses, and informational programs to help students jump start their careers and find jobs.

Former student and FEBA Youth Coordinator Mevla Gavaz of Sheepshead Bay said she succeeded in her career with FEBA support, after joining two years ago.

“I gained so much being a part of FEBA, it has definitely been a wonderful and beneficial experience for me,” said Gavaz.

Now she plays a pivotal role in the organization reaching out to new students and organizing events.

This summer, Gavaz completed a two-month intensive internship program at Fatih University in Istanbul, Turkey, teaching English. The internship was organized and brought to her attention by FEBA. Sponsored by Turkish Airlines, room and board were paid for and students were provided with three meals a day.

“It was definitely a great experience that I will never forget. I even had the opportunity to make a speech and meet the CEO of Turkish Airlines, Temel Kotil, during a dinner FEBA hosted in Istanbul,” Gavaz said.

With this internship experience and connection with FEBA, Gavaz landed a job at The Brooklyn Amity School, in Sheepshead Bay, as a Biology teacher to elementary- and middle-school-aged children.

“Because of this internship experience and my experience with FEBA I was able to land a great job right here in Brooklyn; not many college graduates can say they found a job soon after they obtained their degree,” said Gavaz.

Gavaz graduated May 2011 from Brooklyn College with a BA in Biology Adolescent Education and a Minor in Psychology.

A few years back, Gavaz and a friend started a small ethnocentric organization called ‘Turks and Albanians of Macedonia,’ Macedonia is where her family is from and where she spends most of her summers.

“The purpose of this organization was to rejoin the youth of our culture and form close ties with one another. We have a very large Macedonian community here in the tri-state area but we realized that the youth and the younger generation started losing their identity and cultural backgrounds,” said Gavaz.

Back in 2009 they held a party at a Turkish restaurant for Turks and Albanians of Macedonia. Haldun Yavas, the outreach coordinator of FEBA, received wind of it and wanted to meet with them.

“Since FEBA’s goal and mission is to promote Balkan cultures, unity, economic and political cooperation, they were very interested in knowing more about us. My friend and I decided to meet up with them and ever since then, it’s been a journey uphill,” said Gavaz.

Gavaz is now getting involved with FEBA Humanitarian, another sector of FEBA with an aim focus to raise money to help other countries and groups of people in need.

Gavaz highly recommends Balkan American Students to become a part of FEBA as it will help them reach their goals in a short time.

“Just from my own experience, you gain so much with such a successful organization such as FEBA. The idea of being involved in internships, great events, and finding jobs straight from college is an amazing and positive thing, wouldn’t you think?”

Correction (10/4/2011): The original version of this post misspelled Mevla Gavaz as  Mevla Gavas. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

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