Balkan Canadian Association - Teach and Travel

Not Verified What's this?
1 / 10 after 2 Reviews Based on overall, support & value average ratings

Submit a review

Hello.

I caught the travel bug last year and started looking into abroad opportunities. For the most part, I have been pleasantly surprised by what is out there, but every once in a while, people come across something that makes them lose fate in their passions and sometimes people in general. This was my very unfortunate experience with the Balkan Canadian Association(ABC). ABC is an organization that sends youth to Turkey.

I was told by my friend about ABC, an organization that gives youth international internship and teaching experience. An organization that also gives young Muslims a chance to learn more about religious scholars that have expertise in all things Islam in a unique camp environment. I was sold, planned my application for months in advance, and committed myself to the application process.

A student coordinator contacted me informing me that interviews would only be held for students that pay sixty bucks at a weekend retreat. I hesitated but was still very excited, after all 160 positions were advertised to be available! I reached the retreat and was shocked by the amount of people that came. about 300! It was impressive. What was not impressive was the intrusive and intimidating interview questions that were asked. One applicant told me that the interviewers had interrogated her about why she does not wear the hijab. Another applicant informed me that her interviewers had questioned her about why she does not pray five times a day and if she believes school work is more important than her prayers. Questions did arise in my head about the validity of the program, but I am not one to base my opinion solely on rumors. I did have hesitations when I realized that no events were planned for the retreat. I had even more hesitations when a student coordinator whispered in my ear that the organization needs some serious work. But I overlooked it all. My interview went well, and I left the retreat feeling like I was about to have a fantastic summer.

I eventually received a chain email by the Balkan Canadian Association requesting for me to submit to a second interview; only two dates were presented in the email, both within just a few days of the email sent. The main coordinator of the program wrote down her number in the email and specifically requested for everyone wanting to schedule the required second interview to call her.

I called to no answer and left a message. Two days later I called again. No answer. Only 2 days left until the second interview. I called again, no answer. One day until the interview; sent an email no answer. It was getting frustrating. Finally, I spoke to a student coordinator about it and she was able to schedule the interview. The time slot for the interview was very narrow, so I decided to miss thirty minutes of my university class. I went for the interview, with less enthusiasm but still pretty excited. I left not feeling much different.

About a week later, I received a voicemail message from FEBA, the american equivalent of the organization that handles official affairs. I had been accepted into the program. I was absolutely ecstatic; what I had planned for 6 months was coming to life before my eyes :) I Told family and friends, took out a loan from the bank to pay the deposit, came to school the next day with expectations in the sky; i was totally day dreaming about Istanbul. I was rudely awakened when my friend who is a student coordinator came up to me with a look of sympathy on her face

She stated "— they sent you the acceptance by accident– I think your on the waitlist”. ” i think you should speak to —–( the main coordinator whose name I will not mention). ”

I was confused. I called the coordinator's number and again- it went straight to voice mail. I finally decided to call FEBA( the exact same organization) and inquired about the false acceptance. I also anonymously addressed some of the concerns and hesitations that I had about the organization. She said she was taking notes; “things are a bit bumpy on the Canadian side”, and “she would address my concerns at a meeting the following week”. I did not know what to do with the bank loan and emailed the Balkan Canadian Association about what I should do with it. I was shocked when they responded! ” Please come to our office- we would like to speak to you in person”.

If you thought the story was bad up until now, it gets worse, Viewer Discretion is Advised.

I took time out of my university schedule to go to the office. When I arrived I smelled excitement among st the two official coordinators. I was immediately rushed into a private room. The main coordinator brushed her hair back, took an agitated sigh, started in my eyes for about 5 seconds before excitedly etching out ” We want to confront you about some of the bad opinions you have about the organization”. I began to tell them about the false acceptance and how I had a bank loan that needed to be returned, but I was interrupted by the male main coordinator who to my absolute shock began to recite stories and sentences from the Quran about what happens to backbiters and I should not exemplify traits of an backbiter. I was pretty disturbed that they would use a religious text that I value very much as a weapon to attack me. Might I add, they used the recitation inaccurately. I was stunned and at that moment it made sense. They called me in not to address my pending bank-loan, but to jump me with accusations; they wanted to hurl all their bad decisions on my shoulders and call it a day by avoiding all accountability. Obviously they had gotten into trouble and were looking for a scapegoat.

They were hurt and enraged that I said on the phone to the U.S coordinator that they should work more closely with the Balkan Canadian Association to avoid any false acceptances in the future. They began to yell over one another. They were upset I spoke to the U.S coordinator; they told me she knew “absolutely nothing about anything”. I was apparently a backbiter for speaking out and inquiring about my false acceptance to the organization.

A facebook group was made by hopeful applications of the program who met each other at the paid interviews. On the facebook group people were beginning to communicate to each other and question why the main coordinator was not answering her phone. This was just unacceptable according to the coordinators the Balkan Canadian Association. In a hissy fit, the main coordinator angrily asked why I called throughout the week before my second interview. My response… ” because you told me to in the email”. She gave me a disgusted look.

The meeting ended with the main coordinator stating that the Balkan Canadian Association is one of her children and its painful for her to see her child attacked.She rolled her eyes to the ceiling and angrily proclaimed, “that’s it– that’s all we want to know”. I asked again, “what should I do with the bank loan that I took out?” They responded, “we’ll get back to you by the end of the week”. Of course they did not.

I left feeling pretty stupid for coming. I called the u.s coordinator and told her what had transpired. She stated that they were on the defense because they got in trouble at a meeting. But that is the reason you call in an unsuspecting applicant and hurl insults and accusations at them? Why, because the applicant needed to know what to do with a bank loan after receiving a false acceptance? I was pretty disgusted with this lack of professionalism. I was bothered by how I was accused of everything wrong with the organization because I inquired about a bank loan. I was even more bothered by how quickly and intensely the Balkan Canadian Association threw a U.S coordinator under the bus for addressing concerns by an applicant. Just bringing her name up in front of the Canadian coordinators would require a fire extinguisher. Employers should not put each other down in front of applicants. The message was clear to me at this point. You remotely question the coordinators of the Balkan Canadian Association, you are a backbiter. That would be almost OK if there was not so much to question!

Is this justified? I think its simply wrong, but the incident might be a blessing in disguise. Of course I never again heard back from the organization. I politely emailed them asking what I should do with the loan, and apologized for any misunderstandings. I returned the loan to the bank.

Maybe I was lucky that things ended the way they did.

The coordinators of the Balkan Canadian Association were simply inconsiderate of their applicants. This case is a horrible cocktail of incompetence mixed with people becoming a bit drunk with power.This is ABC’s second year in Canada( FEBA is much more established and organized). They were overwhelmed, perplexed, inconsistent and tardy. I saw a very shady side of an organization that promised the world, a promise that drove me forward despite the warning signs that hit me during my journey as an applicant. Bottom Line. Trust Your Gut. Don’t be submerged by what could be, But analyze facts in front of you. It would have saved me from a very unfortunate dialogue with the Balkan Canadian Association, which will make me doubt all international NGO’s down the line.

Program:
Location:
Posted: December 30, 2013
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1
By: yousuf11
Age:
22

Hello.

I caught the travel bug last year and started looking into abroad opportunities. For the most part, I have been pleasantly surprised by what is out there, but every once in a while, people come across something that makes them lose fate in their passions and sometimes people in general. This was my very unfortunate experience with the Balkan Canadian Association(ABC). ABC is an organization that sends youth to Turkey to teach/ intern/ work with an NGO

I was told by my friend about ABC, an organization that gives youth international internship and teaching experience. An organization that also gives young Muslims a chance to learn more about religious scholars that have expertise in all things Islam in a unique camp environment. I was sold, planned my application for months in advance, and committed myself to the application process.

A student coordinator contacted me informing me that interviews would only be held for students that pay sixty bucks at a weekend retreat. I hesitated but was still very excited, after all 160 positions were advertised to be available! I reached the retreat and was shocked by the amount of people that came. About 300 people came! It was impressive. What was not impressive was the rumored interview questions that were asked. One applicant told me that the interviewers had interrogated her about why she does not wear the hijab. Another applicant informed me that her interviewers had questioned her about why she does not pray five times a day and if she believes school work is more important than her prayers. Another applicant told me in disbelief that the panel of interviewers had asked him why he does not have a family member as a reference. Did I begin to doubt the Balkan Canadian Association? Questions did arise in my head, but I am not one to base my opinion solely on what people tell me. I have to admit, I did have hesitations when I realized that no events were planned for the retreat. I had even more hesitations when a student coordinator whispered in my ear that the organization needs some serious work. But I overlooked it all. My interview went well, and I left the retreat feeling like I was about to have a fantastic summer.

I eventually received a chain email by the Balkan Canadian Association requesting for me to submit to a second interview; only two dates were presented in the email, both within just a few days of the email sent. The main coordinator of the program wrote down her number in the email and specifically requested for everyone wanted to schedule the second interview to call her.

I did. No answer, left a message. Two days later I call again. No answer. Only 2 days left until the second interview. I call again, no answer. One day until the interview; sent an email no answer. It was beginning to get frustrating. Finally, I spoke to a student coordinator about it and she was able to schedule the interview. The time slot for the interview was very narrow, so I decided to miss thirty minutes of my university class. Went for the interview, with less enthusiasm but still pretty excited. I left not feeling much different.

About a week later, I received a voicemail message from FEBA, the american equivalent of the organization that handles official affairs. I had been accepted into the program! I was absolutely ecstatic, what I had planned for 6 months was coming to life before my eyes. I told family and friends, took out a loan from the bank to pay the reasonable deposit, came to school the next day with my nose in the air and my expectations in the sky; i was totally day dreaming about Istanbul. I was rudely awakened when my friend who is a student coordinator came up to me with a look of sympathy on her face

” — they sent you the acceptance by accident– I think your on the waitlist”. "I think you should speak to —–( the main coordinator whose name I will not mention). ” I looked at my friends phone, with a message from the main coordinator—” just tell him to ignore the voicemail”.

I was not happy. Called the main coordinators number and again- it went straight to voice mail. I finally decided to call FEBA( the exact same organization) and inquired about the false acceptance. I also anonymously addressed some of the concerns and hesitations that I had about the organization. She said she was taking notes; “things were a bit bumpy on the Canadian side”, and “she would address my concerns at a meeting the following week”. I did not know what to do with the bank loan and emailed the Balkan Canadian Association about what I should do with it. I was shocked when they responded! ” Please come to our office- we would like to speak to you in person”.

If you thought the story was bad up until now, it gets worse, Viewer Discretion is Advised.

I took time out of my university schedule to go to the office. When I arrived I smelled excitement amongst the two official coordinators. I was immediately rushed into a private room. The main coordinator brushed her hair back, took an agitated sigh, started in my eyes for about 5 seconds before excitedly etching out ” We want to confront you about some of the bad opinions you have about the organization”. I began to tell them about the false acceptance and how I had a bank loan that needed to be returned, but I was interrupted by the male main coordinator who to my absolute shock began to recite stories and sentences from the Quran about what happens to backbiters and I should not exemplify traits of an backbiter. I was pretty disturbed that they would use a religious text that I value very much as a weapon to attack me. Might I add, they used the recitation inaccurately. I was stunned and at that moment it made sense. They called me in not explain why I received a false acceptance. and why my phone calls were being ignored, but to jump me with accusations; they wanted to hurl all their bad decisions on my shoulders and call it a day by avoiding all accountability. Obviously they had gotten into trouble and were looking for a scapegoat.

They were hurt and enraged that I said on the phone to the U.S coordinator that they should work more closely with the Balkan Canadian Association to avoid any false acceptances in the future. They began to yell. They were upset I spoke to the U.S coordinator; they told me she knew “absolutely nothing about anything”. I was apparently a backbiter for speaking out and inquiring about my false acceptance to the organization.

A facebook group was made by hopeful applications of the program who met each other at the paid interviews. On the facebook group people were beginning to communicate to each other and question why the main coordinator was not answering her phone. This was just unacceptable according to the coordinators the Balkan Canadian Association. In a hissy fit, the main coordinator angrily asked why I called throughout the week before my second interview. My response… ” because you told me to in the email”. She gave me a disgusted look.

The meeting ended with the main coordinator stating that the Balkan Canadian Association is one of her children and its painful for her to see her child attacked. She rolled her eyes to the ceiling and angrily proclaimed, “that’s it– that’s all we want to know”. I asked again, “what should I do with the bank loan that I took out?” They responded promptly, “we’ll get back to you by the end of the week”. Of course they did not. I returned the loan, and was lucky that interest was low.

I left feeling pretty stupid for coming. I called the u.s coordinator and told her what had transpired. She stated that they were on the defense because they got in trouble at a meeting. But that is the reason you call in an unsuspecting applicant and hurl insults and accusations at them? Why, because the applicant needed to know what to do with a bank loan after receiving a false acceptance? I was pretty disgusted with this lack of professionalism. I was bothered by how I was accused of everything wrong with the organization because I inquired about a bank loan. I was even more bothered by how quickly and intensely the Balkan Canadian Association threw a U.S coordinator under the bus for addressing concerns by an applicant. Just bringing her name up in front of the Canadian coordinators would require a fire extinguisher. Employers should not put each other down in front of applicants.The message was clear to me at this point. You remotely question the coordinators of the Balkan Canadian Association, you are a backbiter. That would be almost OK if there was not so much to question!

Is this justified? I think its simply wrong, but this horrible meeting might be a blessing in disguise. Of course I never again heard back from the organization. I politely emailed them asking what I should do with the loan, and apologized for any misunderstandings. They did not respond.

From my horrible experience during the application process, I am happy I did not go on the trip. Based on the degree of disorganization in Canada, I cannot imagine what transpired in Turkey for the successful applicants. Maybe I was lucky that things ended the way they did.

The coordinators of the Balkan Canadian Association were simply inconsiderate of their applicants. This case is a horrible cocktail of incompetence mixed with people becoming a bit drunk with power.This is ABC’s second year in Canada( FEBA is much more established and organized). They were overwhelmed, perplexed, inconsistent and tardy. I saw a shady side of an organization that promised the world( literally), A promise that drove me forward despite the warning signs that hit me during my journey as an applicant. Bottom Line. Trust Your Gut. Don’t be submerged by what could be, But analyze facts in front of you. It would have saved me from a very unfortunate dialogue with the Balkan Canadian Association, which will make me doubt all international NGO’s down the line.

Program:
Location:
Posted: December 30, 2013
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1
Age:
22