Macedonian Mission shares language skills, culture and aid |

Macedonian Mission shares language skills, culture and aid

Multicultural learning

Margaret Hair

Since she was in fourth grade, Vesna Palmer has been absorbing words.

The Steamboat Springs resident and native of Macedonia took up English as her first second language. In the years since, she's made linguistics a passion, earning advanced degrees in the subject and taking an interest in how language is used in multilingual environments.

That passion, along with a love for volunteerism, motivated Palmer to found Macedonian Mission for Humanity, a nonprofit organization that strives to "unite diverse communities by promoting multilingual and multicultural understanding through educational and cultural exchange," according to its mission statement.

The organization's efforts are focused on humanitarian aid, educational opportunities, cultural exchanges and work exchanges.

This week, Palmer plans to make 1,000 pieces of baklava to add to a wide spread of food for an international dinner at 6 p.m. Friday at Steamboat Springs High School. Internationally styled entertainment from dancers and musicians is planned as well as a silent auction. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students.

Proceeds from the event will help cover shipping costs for a 40-foot container filled with medical equipment and supplies for Macedonian health care providers. It will cost about $25,000 to ship the container, which contains supplies collected by Denver-based organization Project C.U.R.E., or Commission on Urgent Relief and Equipment. Macedonian Mission for Humanity has raised $6,000 to ship the supplies and hopes to get closer to its goal with Friday's fundraiser, Palmer said.

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Palmer started working to build international harmony through multilingual and multicultural exchange about 10 years ago. She's been continuing those efforts from Steamboat Springs for about six years. Macedonian Mission for Humanity has board members across the United States, she said.

Macedonia is a small country that was part of Yugoslavia until the early 1990s. There are several ethnic groups, and unemployment is uncommonly high, Palmer said. Literacy also is high. With several family members living in the United States, Palmer said learning English early seemed like the right step to eventually move to the States.

"It's a tradition of immigration, so I grew up thinking I would come here one day," she said.

She came to the United States about 25 years ago to continue her studies in linguistics, which have afforded her an ability to translate writing in seven or eight languages. Her three children — Stefan, Mark and Marina — are bilingual in English and Macedonian.

In addition to her work with Macedonian Mission for Humanity, Palmer volunteers with several local organizations, including Steamboat Art Museum, the Steamboat Springs Orchestra, the Kiwanis Club of Steamboat Springs and LIFT-UP of Routt County.

To learn more about Macedonian Mission for Humanity, go to, e-mail or search for the organization at

If you go

What: International dinner, presented by the Steamboat Springs High School Culture Club and the Macedonian Mission for Humanity

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Where: Steamboat Springs High School

Cost: $20 for adults, $10 for students; tickets available in advance at All That Jazz, Mister Money, Ciao Gelato, Steaming Bean and Steamboat Springs High School

Call: Vesna Palmer at 819-5172 or Sue Leonard at 870-1518 for more information