The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) is proud to announce the 3rd rollout of the 2016 Macedonian Diaspora's 40 Under 40 List.
UMD is recognizing forty Macedonian role models to reinforce our community's heritage and cultural values. Built through a process of nominations, the final honorees are selected by a selection committee.
The UMD Macedonian Diaspora 40 Under 40 program was launched in 2014 and this year has a new structure. To improve engagement and provide a more intimate look at the people being recognized, UMD will be rolling out the honorees ten at a time. UMD hopes the list will recognize the winners for their accomplishments in their respective careers and encourage them to keep moving the community forward and making a positive impact on society-at-large.
The Third Ten of Forty Honorees:
Marko Blazevski, roots from Skopje, Macedonia
Isabella Dymalovski, roots from Bitola and Polciste, Macedonia
Gjorgji Gjeorgjievski, roots from Skopje, Macedonia
Dame Krcoski, roots from Meseista and Ohrid, Macedonia
Vera Lalchevska, roots from Skopje, Macedonia
Ismail Lumanovski, roots from Bitola, Macedonia
Zhikica Pagovski, roots from Delchevo, Macedonia
Anthony Rizos, roots from D'mbeni, Aegean Macedonia
Dean Smith, roots from Gjavato, Macedonia
Katerina Stamatova Petrovska, roots from Bitola, Macedonia
Marko Blazevski, 24
Originally from Skopje, Macedonia, Marko moved to Monterey, California as a 15-year-old to train with the Monterey Bay Swim Club and pursue a collegiate swimming career. The move and his hard work paid off. Marko was recruited by Wingate University, in North Carolina, where he made an immediate impact as a freshman and continued to do so throughout his four years in the NCAA Division II. In the 2012 Olympics, Marko competed in the 400 individual medley and was selected by the Macedonian confederation to bear his home country's flag in the opening ceremonies. He graduated from Wingate in May 2014 with a B.S. in Finance. He continued on to compete at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. In the process he swam at 6 consecutive World Swimming Championships (2011-2016). He is currently working as a Financial Representative with Northwestern Mutual in Charlotte, NC.
Growing up in a small country with a modest family, I knew that only hard work and dedication towards my goals would be the only path to success. There aren't many of us in the world, so any time I am in the spotlight I am standing tall and proud, happy to show the world that Macedonians are capable of great things. There is much to be proud of when it comes to Macedonian culture but, if I had to choose just one aspect it would be the food. My advice for the next generations is, as long as you believe in yourself first and have the motivation to wake up in the morning and pursue your goals, you will be successful!
Isabella Dymalovski, 14
Bitola and Polciste, Macedonia
Isabella Dymalovski is the Founder of Luv Ur Skin, a range of Australian made natural skin care products for girls. She’s a 14 year old student who has worked on creating her vision, starting when she was only 8. Isabella is dedicated and focused on making a difference whilst always thriving to achieve her best and challenge herself. Isabella is the creative mind behind the brand and is excited to offer products for girls who want a natural skin care routine that’s affordable and effective. All the products are easy to use and are a gentle and safe skin care solutions to clean, protect and maintain naturally beautiful skin.
Her inspiration came from not being able to find anything to buy that was suitable for her age or safe enough to use on her skin. Being a tween herself, there is nobody better that understands the market and the challenges that girls her age are faced with today. Isabella’s motivation is to encouraging girls to develop healthy lifestyle habits and routines so that they learn to take care of their skin and bodies as they grow while having fun. “At the end of the day we all want to feel beautiful, happy and confident…. because every girl deserves to be comfortable in their own skin!!”
We have a very large extended family as both my parents are Macedonian so there’s always some function or event to go to and get to know many different kinds of personalities. This has really helped in both my private and work life as I like to think I’m more accepting of people no matter how different they from me.
I love the music and dancing ingrained in my Macedonian culture. Both my parents partook in Macedonian dancing when they were growing up and Mum also sang at festivals, so when we catch up at my grandparents’ house, my grandfather always has Macedonian music on loud so we can dance around. Both sets of grandparents make sure they speak to us in Macedonian and they also always have Macedonian TV Shows on. I love to watch these shows with them, as it helps me learn more of the language. I’m proud to be Macedonian because we have a rich culture and we are very hard workers. This is a quality that all my family has helped to instill in me.
The advice I would give to future generations of Macedonians is to never forget where your family has come from and what they all had to do, and sacrifice, to make sure we now have these amazing opportunities.
Gjorgji Gjeorgjievski, 31
Gjorgji Gjeorgjievski was born and raised in Skopje, Macedonia, where he attended “Rade Jovcevski – Korcagin” high school. During his junior year, he was selected as a Soros & ASSIST scholar and given a scholarship at Deerfield Academy in MA, USA, where he was introduced to American culture and customs.
Gjorgji attended Yale University, becoming the first Macedonian citizen to ever receive an undergraduate degree from the university. While at Yale, he studied Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, swam for the Yale Varsity Swim Team and enjoyed promoting Macedonia and the Macedonian culture in a number of international student organizations and events.
After graduating, Gjorgji started his career at Microsoft. While working, he completed his masters degree in Computer Science at University of Washington. Currently, Gjorgji is an Engineering Manager on the SQL Database team at Microsoft, responsible for the innovating novel Query Processing technologies and increasing the customer adoption of Microsoft’s multi-billion-dollar database product.
Gjorgji vividly remembers the day Macedonia proclaimed independence. He was only 6 years old when the dream of many generations of Macedonians finally came true. Macedonia became an independent country, but soon after faced external denial the Macedonian existence and identity. Growing up in this era motivated Gjorgji to dive deeper in the Macedonian history, understand the struggles that his ancestors went through to keep their nation prosperous, and develop great pride in being a part of this ancient and unique culture.
Through his life Gjorgji has had many opportunities to express his pride as a Macedonian and promote the Macedonian nation. In his youth, Gjorgji often got a chance to represent Macedonia on international swimming competitions, winning medals for his country, while building recognition of a then unknown, small Balkan land. When attending Deerfield and Yale, he participated in numerous presentations, discussions and panels to promote Macedonian culture and highlight the strengths and uniqueness of his country. Recently, while working at Microsoft Gjorgji became the regional representative of the United Macedonian Diaspora, promoting the interests and needs of Macedonians and Macedonian communities.
Advice Gjorgji has for the new generation of young Macedonians – “There is nothing impossible to him who will try.” This quote, said by the great Macedonian named Alexander, has motivated Gjorgji throughout life, whether that is becoming a Macedonian elite swimmer, attending Yale University, or being a successful Engineering Manager at Microsoft, encouraging him to always try harder and be hungry to achieve more.
Dame Krcoski, 36
Meseista and Ohrid, Macedonia.
Dame Krcoski is a father, small business owner and proud local. Dame is the co-owner and Manager of 103.3 Mac FM, a radio station catering to Perth’s 15,000 residents of Macedonian ancestry.In the late 1990s during some of his high school years, Dame lived in Girrawheen together with his parents and two brothers. From 2001, he and his family lived in Marangaroo, and since 2009, he has resided in Madeley together with his wife Ivona where they started a family and now have two children Leo and Alexandra. As such, Dame takes pride in the fact that he can consider himself a true local to the district of Girrawheen.
In 2006, Dame graduated from Edith Cowan University acquiring a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in Politics/Government and History and a minor in Geography. In 2009, Dame became co-owner and manager of Macedonian language radio station 103.3 Mac FM, which covers most of the Perth Metropolitan area and has tens of thousands of listeners not only of Macedonian but also Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian ancestry.
Dame has organised dozens of cultural events and humanitarian fundraisers over the past seven years through his work with 103.3 Mac FM and the ‘United Macedonian Diaspora’ (UMD), which is based out of Washington D.C for which Dame was a board of director’s member, from its Australian branch. Thus he is very well known and respected amongst his community in Perth, and around Australia.
Dame was until recently also employed as an electorate officer for former Federal Member for Cowan, Mr. Luke Simpkins – the first Australian recipient of the UMD Macedonia Friendship Award.
During the three years in which he worked for Mr. Simpkins, Dame had the opportunity to meet, speak and communicate with thousands of constituents in person, via phone or email. This enabled him to understand the concerns of locals, but more so it also provided him with the experience in facilitating and addressing the issues, which matter most to the Australian public.
In conclusion, his personal and professional background leaves Dame well placed to understand the issues that the residents of Girrawheen and its surrounds face, as he is a local from the people, for the people.
My Macedonian heritage is part of who I am; I was born in Macedonia and was raised to be proud of my identity, which has been denied by so many. However, I was also raised by my parents to embrace this beautiful country Australia as my own, which I have done because Australia is a multicultural nation, which rewards loyalty and provides limitless opportunities to those who dare to dream, regardless of their background. My advice to the younger generation is that in order to be heard, they need to be the ‘checks and balances’ in society by taking an active interest in politics, or by supporting those who they can trust, in becoming their voice in the Government institutions.
The biggest lesson I learned from my parents is to always be kind to people, to be happy for other people’s success and to never envy anybody but to believe that I too can accomplish anything if I put my mind to it. My children are still little, Leo is 4 and Alexandra is 2, but as they grow I will teach them to cherish their Macedonian culture while also embracing the country of their birth, Australia. However, most importantly, I will educate them to be accepting of others and treat people as they would like to be treated, with respect.
Vera Lalchevska, 38
Vera Lalchevska is a passionate human rights and development activist, skilled in lobbying, political analysis, creating networks, and communicating. She currently covers the Human Rights Council and the Human Rights Treaty Bodies as Press Officer at the United Nations Headquarters at Geneva, and acts as Balkans Team Leader for the Geneva-based Green Jobs and Sustainable Development International Centre. Over the past fifteen years, she has tirelessly promoted human dignity through her work in academia, government, think tanks, NGOs, and the United Nations. One of her achievements was securing Macedonia’s fully-pledged membership to the International Organisation of the Francophonie. A former Rotary World Peace Fellow from Duke University and Rotary Ambassadorial fellow from Paris-I Pantheon Sorbonne, she is a long time believer in “service above self.” Vera holds a PhD in Development Studies from Geneva’s Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies and was formerly Deputy National Coordinator for the Francophonie in the Macedonian Government.
Ms. Lalchevska’s PhD thesis was on “The Importance of Being Macedonian: Origins and Consequences of the ‘Name Issue’ between Greece and Macedonia” at the Graduate Institute. When asked in an interview why she chose her topic and what was the “importance” of being Macedonian, she replied: “My title was inspired by Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest – a farcical comedy in which the protagonists maintain fictitious personae to escape burdensome social obligations. I liken this farce to the situation in Macedonia where Macedonians are compelled to maintain a fictitious identity (or, more precisely, to change their real identity) in order to be accepted by the international society. This is a burdensome obligation, to say the least. In fact, it is so intolerable that I conclude that the “name issue” has led to a collective and individual trauma – within society in Macedonia and within the hearts and minds of individuals – throwing Macedonians into a perplexing dilemma for this day and age, namely, the dilemma of “to be or not to be”. If they choose “to be”, they will lose their right to be part of the European Union and NATO, their status in the United Nations will become vulnerable, and their future and the future of their children will be condemned to isolationism – which, for a small country, could be suicidal. On the other hand, if they choose “not to be”, they will lose something very precious and innate – the right to their identity and their language. Macedonians are being blackmailed into a conundrum that is most paradoxical for this era of human rights, an era in which the right to self-determination is so essential that it is the only common article – and not just any article, but Article 1 – to both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. These two binding documents are unparalleled in that they derive from the single most important human rights declaration in the history of mankind, namely the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The absurdity of the situation is magnified when one realizes that those who are urging Macedonians to give up their name, identity and language are not dictators, but diplomats and politicians representing the very entities that were meant to be the gatekeepers of human rights: the United Nations and the European Union. Not to mention the additional irony that the country behind all this, namely Greece, is renowned for being the bastion of democracy and the cradle of European civilization. Who would have thought that one of the oldest documented peoples in the world, who have a place in the Bible and who persevered throughout all times in history – including repressions, assimilations, exoduses, population exchanges and wars – would be denied the right to their identity in the middle of the twenty-first century, in a time of peace and an era of the supremacy of human rights? And who but a Macedonian could better explain this Macedonian saga to the rest of the world?” The rest of her interview can be viewed here.
Ms. Lalchevska is currently working on a paper that would propose a long-term sustainable solution to the “name issue”. This solution would be the public recognition of the century-old denial of the Macedonian identity and language, on the part of both Greek authorities and the international community. The second step would be a public apology, by Greek authorities, towards the Macedonian minority in Greece and the hundreds of thousands of expulsed Macedonian refugees from Greece during the Greek Civil War (1946–1949), as well as throughout various periods of time during the twentieth century, starting from 1913.
My Macedonian heritage impacted me at a very early age, while living in Bulgaria. There, on the streets and in the stores, whilst I attempted to speak a broken Bulgarian, people would ask me, “where are you from little one?” And when I told them I was Macedonian, they would say, “ahh, so you are Bulgarian.” My sensitivity to the topic of my Macedonian heritage and identity was born then and there – trying to defend myself and explain that I was Macedonian. This – and later on, the realization that such a great civilization, which happened to also be my birthplace, was so undermined and trampled upon – gave me my first personal taste of injustice and a yearning to correct it. My first “victory” in this sense was when, at age 18 as a high school student, I went to Waterville, Minnesota, as a foreign exchange student, where I joined the speech team. That year, I won the gold medal for “oratory speaking” at the Minnesota State Speech Tournament with a speech on the rights of Macedonians to their identity. Ever since these teenage years and until today, my “raison d'être” has been the promotion and protection of human rights.
If there is one thing in our culture that I would single out, it would be our music, which is renowned throughout the world, and which is truly distinctive. But also Macedonia has made a unique contribution to world history and civilization – starting from Alexander the Great who is regarded as one of history’s brilliant military leaders and most powerful rulers, but also a unifier; to the citizens of Macedonia who called out to the Apostle Paul and who, thanks to this “Macedonian Call” are credited for the spread of Christianity to Europe; to Justinian I who is credited for the codification of Roman law; to the Saints Cyril and Methodius, and their disciples Naum and Clement, and their role in the unification of all Slavic peoples in the world through the creation and the spread of the Glagolitic and Cyrillic alphabet, literacy, and religion; to Mother Theresa the symbol of world humanity. To the future generations, I would say, be as cosmopolitan, worldly, humanitarian, unprejudiced, and original, as you can. These, I think, the key to the Macedonian greatness.
Ismail Lumanovski, 32
The extraordinary clarinetist Ismail Lumanovski is a musical force of passion and dynamic virtuosity. Already of international distinction, Lumanovki has launched a major career as a soloist, chamber musician in both classical and cross-over repertoire. His synergistic blend of natural talent and training combines the spirit of folk music with the discipline of classical music. Lumanovski’s performances throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, Brazil, Korea and China have received critical acclaim. Lumanovski has mesmerized audiences across the globe. He is proud to have been the soloist of his New York début of the Carter Clarinet Concerto with musicians from New Juilliard Ensemble and the Lucerne Festival Academy with Maestro Boulez.
His performances have been widely reviewed. The New York Times wrote of his work under Pierre Boulez, “the soloist — the brilliant, fearless young clarinetist Ismail Lumanovski — aligned himself with various instrumental contingents of the large ensemble”. Professionally, Lumanovski has had the privilege to perform with innumerable extraordinary musicians and orchestras including: Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, The Berklee Middle Eastern Fusion Ensemble, New Juilliard Ensemble, World Youth Symphony Orchestra, Qatar Philharmonie, Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Macedonian Philharmonic Orchestra, Marcel Khalife, Al Di Meola, Husnu Senlendirici, Zulfu Livaneli etc. Lumanovski is also a master improviser and performer of Macedonian, Turkish and Gypsy music and is presently touring with the renowned New York Gypsy All-Stars, playing throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. This jazz influenced fusion and folk music group exemplifies Lumannovski’s fantastic originality. His sound blends Balkan folk music and western classical music with breathtaking dexterity, musicality and tenacity, lending his style a gratifying complexity. Of his performance with the All-Stars, Lumanovski plays a “blistering series of haunting dance numbers” (Lucid Culture Blog).Lumanovski’s playing may be heard on his recordings with the New York Gypsy All-Stars, Secret Trio, Fall of the Moon, Liquid Clarinets and Love is the Way.
I'm a musician, clarinet player from Bitola, Macedonia. I came to the United States to study music at age of 17. I completed my High School at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and my Undergraduate and Master degree at The Juilliard School in New York. Throughout my studies and my professional endeavor I have been feeling constantly blessed to be born in a country like Macedonia, which is one of the most musical regions in the world. Macedonian folk music is a heritage that I have been carrying with me since my first performance outside of the country when I was only 10. Since than it has been the driving force of my creative activities as a musician. Even though, I'm classically trained I always tried to promote and teach the complex rhythms and highly embellished and ornamented melodies to western musicians and music lovers.
There are many things in Macedonian culture that make me proud. Since I'm a musician by default the ethnic music is one of them but besides that the food, our folkloric dances and our social gatherings make me proud as well. I'm proud of its rich culture. My main advice for the next generation of young Macedonians is to cherish their identity firmly and to be proud of it. Work towards making all the country proud of them as well. The young generation is what will define us as a nation in the future. Regardless in which part of the world they are or will be they should never forget where they come from.
Zhikica Pagovski, 28
Zhikica Zach Pagovski is a strategic partnerships officer at the External Relations Department of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. In this role, he is in charge of fundraising for portfolio of $6M toward GMF programs and managing the partner/client relations with governments, intergovernmental institutions, corporations, and foundations.
Pagovski was a research fellow at the NATO Council of Canada and Young Professional in Foreign Policy in Washington DC, focusing on issues related with digital technology, big data, and foreign policy. From September 2010 to May 2012, he worked as a consultant for sustainable development at Challenge Future (a start-up think tank based in Slovenia). Pagovski’s former professional experience includes work at the United Nations and the Government of Macedonia. He was also involved with the campaign of Dr. Srgjan Kerim for his bid as a secretary general of the United Nations.
In January 2016, Pagovski was appointed as a member of the Board of Directors of the United Macedonian Diaspora, responsible for the organizational policy and strategy. Pagovski was awarded with prestigious fellowships from Goldman Sachs, the Institute of International education, and The Fund of American Studies. He was a recipient of the Doors to Diplomacy Platinum Award from the U.S. Department of State, Volunteer of the Year of Macedonia Award from the European Voluntary Service, Kimberly Miller Award for European Studies from American University, and the David Merchant International Student Award for Achievement from Phi Beta Delta Honor Society. Pagovski holds M.A. in International Affairs from American University's School of International Service in Washington DC. He obtained his B.A. from the American University in Bulgaria with Summa Cum Laude, double-majoring in European Studies (Honors) and Political Science & International Relations (Honors) and being awarded with the Presidential Medal for the most outstanding and well-rounded senior in his class.
I am grateful for being able to receive excellent elementary and high school education in Macedonia. I am particularly thankful to my teachers and mentors for providing me with strong grounds to pursue higher education and career in my field. Also, the support of my parents and friends in Macedonia has been crucial thought my life. I am proud to be born in Macedonia and to be exposed to our rich culture. The music, the food, the literature are some of the main elements I really enjoy. Also, our culture of close relationships, true friendships, and mutual help makes us a distinctive nation.
I am proud to be Macedonian because of many other notable Macedonians that had great contributions to the country and the world. There are many compatriots that have been working day and night to advance arts, sciences, and to help make the world a better place for all of us. I would advise the next generation to be engaged in their communities, and dedicated to their life and career mission. Even though we live in a digital age, people should not forget to heavily invest in human relationships. Also, they should always hold their ethical standards and norms to the highest level. Integrity, honesty, and accountability are key to success in life.
Anthony Rizos, 29
D'mbeni, Aegean Macedonia
I am a marketing technology leader at the head office of Delta Air Lines in Atlanta. I previously spent many years in marketing and technology roles at Amtrak in Washington, DC, starting part-time as a teenager and then continuing full-time after earning my bachelor's and master's degrees at MIT. In general, I like figuring out how things work so I can make them even better. I believe the journey is just as important as the destination, and have been fortunate to turn my love of technology and travel into a rewarding career.
I descend from a very warm and spirited Macedonian family that settled in Toronto in the 1950s. For the following many decades in Canada, they maintained their traditions and identity, and made sure each generation felt and carried on their connection to Macedonia, despite nothing being left of their village back home! Although born and raised in the US, I was lucky to spend a lot of time with my Baba and Tetas, learning their language, culture, and cuisine as a child and young adult. I admire the resolve and determination in my Macedonian family -- common themes that have endured and shape me today -- as well as their sense of pride in hard work to achieve success. I've hoped to honor them by making the most of my opportunities, taking nothing for granted, and being a good friend and resource to those in my community.
Dean Smith, 29
Dean graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2011 with a degree in Finance and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S Army Cavalry. Dean went on to complete the U.S Army's Ranger School and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division where he served in multiple leadership positions as a Junior Officer. He later deployed to Jalalabad Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel/Resolute Support and was the recipient of the Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge. After rising to the rank of Captain and completing service Dean, along with his two brothers, co-founded Smith Brothers LLC, a real estate development company that focuses on urban mixed-use developments. Additionally, in 2015 Dean co-founded Taskforce BPO, a Macedonian-American owned service company that supports businesses in the U.S Healthcare and Insurance industries. Dean is the Managing Director of Taskforce BPO, currently overseeing 60+ employees in Bitola and business development in the U.S. Taskforce’s goal is to bring hundreds of jobs to Bitola and greater Macedonia.
Growing up I was constantly reminded of where my family came from and the hard work they went through to provide my generation the benefits we enjoy today. Identifying as a Macedonian in the Southern United States with the last name Smith was, should we say, very uncommon. Fortunately, my ancestors all had entrepreneurial spirits and left a legacy of hard work and ambition for me to follow in. My Dedo’s father worked long grueling hours as a factory worker in Gary Indiana, saving barely enough money to bring the rest of the family over. Knowing little to no English he worked hard to provide his family an opportunity. Within one generation they produced successful businesses and even a few NFL players. Now I am fortunate to be able to stand on their shoulders and pursue my own dreams. Macedonia is a beautiful country and arguably one of the most important regions, historically, in the whole world. Moreover, a country with ancestors hailing from Alexander the Great should give enough pride to last a lifetime. With that in mind, my advice to the next generation is this: work hard, pursue your goals, epitomize the meaning of integrity, and conquer the World.
Katerina Stamatova Petrovska, 39
My name is Katerina Stamatova Petrovska, born in Bitola, Macedonia in January of 1978. I came to the States in October of 1988, 3 months shy of my 11th birthday. We moved to Crown point, Indiana where my father, Very Reverend Tome Stamatov, was called to serve the Macedonian community at Sts. Peter and Paul Macedonian Orthodox Church.
After completing my high school education at Crown Point High School in 1996, I continued my studies in Organizational Management at Indiana University, where I also received my MBA in 2005. After receiving my education, I started to work as a Director of Operations for a Health Organization in Chicago where I found professional success in building pain clinics from the ground up, and working with a team of doctors, nurses, and other professionals on the business side of healthcare.
Several years later I decided to leave that job and finally start a family with my husband, Goce Petrovski. We now have 2 beautiful daughters: Ana, 7 years old, and Aleksandra, 4 years old.
A couple years after having my children, I decided to return to the workforce and launched my own website and business called, Diethood. Having been mentored and influenced by my parents' hard work ethic, and coached by amazing professionals in my previous career and education, I felt confident in my abilities to launch a new career, one that was influenced by what I always wanted to do which is, cook, photograph, socialize, and get paid for it.
Armed with the aforementioned skills and training, this one woman show, Diethood, has grown into a successful food blog with millions of visitors every month, and close to a million followers on social media. We have been featured in many online and print publications including, Better Homes & Gardens, People, Woman's World, Country Living, and more. We also work with all major food brands such as, Hunt's, Kraft, Silk, Pillsbury, and others. It is a food blog centered on quick, lightened-up dinner recipes all developed and photographed by me, but also includes recipes for desserts, appetizers, as well as some authentic Macedonian recipes, and all things in between. If you need dinner ideas, please visit our website/blog at diethood.com
In my personal life, I live, breathe and sleep Macedonia/n. I am very proud of my heritage. It is what defines me as who I am. In my professional life, my Macedonian heritage, culture, and traditions inspired in me a strong work ethic and ambition. This was what also helped to guide me towards what I do in my every day career. Watching my grandma, my mom, aunts, and so forth, always cooking and taking care of everyone around them, it was a moving experience and I wanted to be a part of that. However, I wanted to also share it on a larger scale; share our country and its traditions in an open forum that mostly reaches Americans, or those that do not know about us. Merging my love for cooking and talking about Macedonia is how Diethood was born. My loyal readers and social media followers, which are in the millions, are well informed about our beautiful country and who we are.
Our history makes me very proud. Good or bad, knowing that that land has been there for thousands of years, and that my ancestors were a part of it, and fought for it - all of that makes me incredibly proud. There's also our beautiful customs - I love that we can celebrate a number of Holidays tied to our country’s history and Orthodox Faith. I also love our exceptionally rich musical heritage and our language. What makes me proud is being able to teach my culture and traditions to others, but most importantly to my children. They know exactly who they are: Macedonians born in the USA to two extremely proud Macedonian parents. We are proud of all our heritage has to offer; our unconditional love for our family and friends, our language, our history, our cuisine, our music. It's all in the small details that makes us who we are.
My message to our next generation of Macedonians is to love your homeland, love your heritage, be proud of it, and don't turn away from it. No matter what you feel, the truth is, THAT is where you are from. That is where your ancestors came from - show them that respect. I would also say to them to develop a better understanding of Macedonia - inform yourselves, read, do not listen to the politicians, but do listen to Dedo's stories. Love and be passionate about what you are doing, have a very strong work ethic, and never quit.