An interview with Ben Lingeman

Who is Ben Lingeman? Could you please introduce yourself?

I am the Assistant Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy here in Skopje.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

Every day is different! I have the opportunity to work on a wide range of programs, such as our exchange and educational programs or cultural programs, small grants programs, and collaboration with the American Corners of Macedonia. Yesterday, as an example, I sat on an interview panel for the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellows program through the morning and then hopped in the car to attend the American Corner of Tetovo’s NATO Youth Club event in the afternoon. Today, I have a completely different schedule. So every day truly is different, and it’s a pleasure to get out of the office to see wonderful sights and visit our great partners throughout the country.

Why are, in your opinion, education and exchange programs the Embassy offers important?

Education and exchange programs are essential to helping people from different countries learn about one another and from one another. That is valuable because it helps us become less foreign to each other, and can serve as an initial connection for further exchange and partnership in education, commerce, government, and science. Whether visiting the United States on a cultural program, a degree-granting program, or just a study tour of the United States through programs like the International Visitor Leadership Program, participants learn about the United States and gain valuable new perspectives from a professional or personal context. And the exchange goes both ways! American educators, students, and professionals also have the opportunity to visit Macedonia on a wide range of exchange programs, and they learn about Macedonia’s rich culture and ways of life in that process, too.
Why should students from Macedonia study in the United States?

The United States offers a huge opportunity to study alongside world-class professors and use world-class facilities, gaining unparalleled experience on the cutting-edge in the fields of business, science, engineering, and almost any other field. For instance, the California Institute of Technology founded and hosts NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which is the leading U.S. center for robotic exploration of our solar system. U.S. universities allow students to gain tangible skills that make them more competitive in the global economy. As one example, the Georgia Institute of Technology hosts the advanced Technology Development Center, a tech business incubator that has helped entrepreneurs start more than 130 new tech companies so far.
How would you briefly describe student life in the United States?

One great thing about education in the United States is the number of choices available, so student life can range widely depending on the institution. Small, liberal arts colleges housed on small campuses could hold classes consisting of only a handful of students, but major public or private research institutions often are as large as a small city, offering extensive facilities and advanced research opportunities, especially for graduate students in science, technology, and engineering fields. The largest universities host enormous sports events right on campus, as well. No matter what subject someone decides to study, the range of options in the U.S. is vast.
How many programs does the Embassy administer?

Among exchange programs alone, our team administers more than a dozen different exchange programs. But our team also has a lot of other responsibilities – such as managing the American Corners of Macedonia, and grant programs like the Democracy Commission small grants program and the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation grants program, which has made possible conservation of the famous peacock mosaic at the Stobi archaeological site. We also manage our social media pages, so if you have a fun or interesting story about your activities since returning from your exchange program, please let us know! We love to share stories of exchange participants and alumni doing great things in Macedonia.
What would you recommend to potential students and alumni?

The United States offers excellent opportunities to study and gain professional skills. I would especially encourage aspiring master’s students to look at opportunities to study in the United States for free or for a low cost – with enough effort and research into the right degree programs, it can be easier than you think to obtain scholarships and teaching assistantships or research assistantships at the master’s and PhD levels. Come visit one of our American Corners (located in Skopje, Tetovo, Bitola, Stip, and Struga) to learn more about the Competitive College Clubs and to speak with one of our EducationUSA advisors who are available to assist you in navigating the education process. To alumni, thank you for your energy and enthusiasm upon your return to Macedonia. It is heartening to see so many people using knowledge and skills they gained in the U.S. and sharing that knowledge with your fellow citizens. I look forward to continuing to work with MAAA members to expand your efforts to share your experiences and grow professionally and personally. We hope to see you soon!

Written by Angela Dimitrovska


Bulding bridges of cooperation
between the United States and Macedonia