I’m fast forwarding my timeline to about the present day, to talk about what has became a very fundamental part of my life. It is fundamental for three main aspects: it is a social outlet for myself, it allows me to voice my ideas and be involved with the Macedonian Community and I have made so many lifetime friends out of my involvement with the Sons and Daughters of Alexander the Great Coffee Club, meeting every Friday and the occasional Saturday at Coffea Cafe, Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne Australia.
My first session was in October 2019, right before my Year 12 English exam. Mum had passed in May of that year and I was struggling big time. Losing sense of myself, the emotional outbursts. Also felt I didn’t really want to be on the planet anymore. A couple of things were keeping me going, including my love and passion for my 2 cultures: Macedonian and Māori.
Asides from being involved with both families, my other involvement with my cultures was generally through learning and interaction with my fellow countrymen and countrywomen on Facebook social groups. I started to become involved with the Macedonian and Māori online communities. My favourite was Growing Up Maco Style, where I’ve learnt so much about my fathers homeland and culture from Skopje all the way down to Solun.
My social media activity at the time suggested I was struggling significantly mentally and emotionally. A wise man by the name of Mr Vangel Paterov reached out to me and invited me to attend this coffee club, where a group of largely Macedonian men and women sat down every week to discuss absolutely everything in life.
Discussions mainly surrounded politics, which is a heavy passion of mine, but every topic is welcomed and everyone will take the time to listen to you. I was very nervous when I first arrived, for I was only 17 and the minimum age of most of the members I had met was at least 50.
Those who know me very well would know I’m an old soul, and I fit in very well with this crowd. The elders, as I call them, were very impressed with my knowledge and my passion for the preservation and protection of both my cultures. Whilst both cultures are vastly different, they share many similarities in their history and beliefs, and this is why I’ve always believed my identity is so important. They were very excited to be around a younger mind and body as well, and teach me all they had to know.
I’ve become a very loyal member and attempt to make every session, every morning. Lifetime friendships have been forged and I’ve met some very important figures in just my 3 years of attendance at the club. I’ve met people all the way from Canada, I’ve met scientists, I’ve met a man who worked for the United Nations, I’ve met published authors and everyone else in between. Most importantly, I’ve met people from all corners of Macedonia and opened my eyes to the vast fabric that is our dear nation. There is more to Macedonia than just my dear little village of Papradiste.
For about a year or so now, I’ve taken the duty of writing our club’s meeting summaries, so we can inform all of the world what we get up to every week. It was also the club who identified my writing talents and asked me to consider writing a separate article each week on all sorts of matters, to attract every reader in our Macedonian community and get them more involved about all sorts of issues. I also serve as cinematographer for my other dear friend Zhivan Rendev, filming his very informative and passionate videos about all sorts of issues. I love all 3 jobs and they keep me very well connected to the club itself.
The club has helped me in so many ways, and all the members have become like a family, no matter how frequent or little they come. It is not just my health the club has improved. My fluency in Macedonian gets better by the month, and I’ve slowly learnt to listen along to my peers speak our tongue. My social skills have improved, I love meeting the new faces that turn up, I love teaching them all Māori history and culture, but most of all I feel very loved and appreciated here.
I encourage everyone out there, Macedonian or not, to attend this club. You go away Every week, learning a few things from the members, which I believe have a far greater intelligence then any of the world’s geniuses put together. And if you become a regular after a while like myself, you will realise how much everyone here treats you like family.
It is a true gem and asset to our Macedonian community here in Australia. Many greetings and much love to all the members who may be reading this, you’ve all changed my life for the greater good!