Students share Kosovo experiences

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
MaKayla Pingel, 18, a senior at Fort Dodge Senior High, left, and Jeannie Boro, 16, a junior at FDSH, hold up Kosovo’s flag at the school recently.

While in Kosovo, Jeannie Boro introduced youths from European nations to some popular American pastimes such as eating s’mores and playing dodgeball.

Boro, 16, a junior at Fort Dodge Senior High, was one of four FDSH students who visited the southeastern European country in August 2017.

She was joined by MaKayla Pingel, 18, a senior at FDSH and 2017 FDSH graduates Jordyn Kloss and Kristen Rapp.

The group spent time at Camp TOKA and in Gjakova.

Gjakova became a sister city to Fort Dodge in December 2016.

Boro and Pingel shared their experiences with other high school students in the Little Theater at FDSH recently.

“We played sports that were unusual to them,” Boro recalled. “It was cool to see how much fun they had playing our sports.”

Pingel recalled hiking up the Accursed Mountains.

“They are equal to about 140 stories,” she said.

While on a hike, Pingel got the chance to take a break near some spring water, she said.

“It was like an ice bath,” she said. “Some people got all the way in, but I just stuck my feet in.”

Boro described Camp TOKA, which was created to empower youths and to build leaders.

“It’s kind of on a mountain,” Boro said. “It’s so beautiful. There’s a stream of water between two cabins.”

She said she always felt safe in the country.

“There was no point in time where I feared for my life there,” Boro said.

She enjoyed meeting new people.

“You create really strong bonds with the people you stay with,” Boro said. “It was really cool meeting people from other countries. They were really fascinated by American money. We sat around passing around each others’ money.”

Pingel said something that surprised her was the size of weddings there.

“Five hundred people is considered a small wedding,” Pingel said. “They invite everyone, even people they don’t know.”

Boro and Pingel also visited a mosque, planted flowers, created a mural with the theme “giving back to the world,” and helped clean up litter.

They also made a camp flag for unity, Boro said.

Boro had some advice for students who plan to visit Camp TOKA in the future.

“When you hike up the mountain, it’s hot,” she said. “Just be prepared. Bring some clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.”

Four more students from FDSH will visit Kosovo in August.