Excited anticipation marked the first day of the seminar at Hotel AFA in Prishtina. Some of the participants already knew each other from former project rounds of “The Future We Want” and had the chance to meet again at this "Reunion". Other participants were new to the process and got thereby the opportunity to get to know the program and fellow participants.
The first day of the training started with a session on identity and connecting. With the so-called identity flower, the participants got the chance to reflect on the different levels of their identity. In doing so, they not only discovered which parts form them as an individual, but also received impulses to think about which parts they consider more important. This activity was followed by an exercise called “Heard, Seen, Respected”, which gave the participants the chance to train themselves in non-judgemental listening and revealed patterns in experiences of discrimination. The session was followed by a Memory Walk, where the participants explored different sights in Prishtina and learned about their history, meaning and surrounding narratives as well as representation. In the reflection session that followed, it became clear how challenging it can be to question common narratives that have often been shaped by our environment.
The second day started with a visit to Ulpiana, an ancient Roman city ruin right outside Gracanica, where the group met with representatives of the local CSO, Centar Manjinske Zajednice (Center for Minority Community) which presented their current multi-ethnic program “Breaking barriers through art in action”. The next stop was a visit to the local initiative, Prishtina Dog Shelter, which is run a team from the Albanian, Serbian and Ashkali community. The founders of the shelter emphasized it was the work with the dogs that brought them together and that they would not allow social tensions to interfere. They stressed the importance of community projects to create a better future for all people living in Kosovo. The second half of the day included an interesting lecture about discrimination against Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptians in Kosovo. The training ended with a working session in which the participants planned their projects, that are going to be implemented in the different municipalities.
The group from Gjakova is going to paint a mural close to the Krena river together with Albanian, Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian youth on the 16th of November, the International Day of Tolerance. The Skenderaj group has previously engaged with primary school students on a local level regarding bullying prevention and anti-discrimination. In the next step, they want to involve more schools from the rural areas of Drenas. The Mitrovica participants want to transfer the memory walk they attended in Pristina to Mitrovica and prepare a memorial city tour with a focus on questioning common collective narratives.
With these great results, we look forward to future editions of the project to inspire more young people to become peace activists who will then carry new ideas of a peaceful future into their communities.