ALBANIA – Supported by RYCO within the fourth Open Call for Project Proposals co-financed by the European Union, Youth for Peace (Mladi za Mir) from Bosnia and Herzegovina in partnership with Udhëtim i Lirë from Albania and Balkans, let’s get up! Organisation from Serbia implemented a youth exchange through the project “P.A.C.E. – Peace and Conflict Education”.
The exchange took place from 10 to 15 August in Krujë, Albania and gathered young people from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia to learn about peacebuilding and conflict resolution in society. The young participants had the opportunity to explore topics revolving around identity, prejudice, stereotype, and intercultural diversity.
“This youth exchange came after two previous training sessions held in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Youth had the possibility to practice the knowledge and methodologies gathered as facilitators during the previous training. They understood that the things that we have in common are much more than the ones that divide us. This is a great opportunity for the local NGOs and our activists to participate, strengthening links between us and youth of our region,” project representative and Executive Director of Udhëtim i Lirë Ms Miranda Mansaku emphasised.
The P.A.C.E project created a safe and favourable environment where youth from the three participating places gathered and had a transformative experience of dialogue and understanding of the “other”. They had the opportunity to take active roles as agents of change, learn about peacebuilding and share their peace messages for peers in the Western Balkan region.
“Our differences are not barriers, and we have the power to change the world if we want to,” one of the young participants stressed out.
Empowered to promote and enhance regional peacebuilding, another project participant added: “Peace is the starting point for a prosperous future. The Western Balkans needs cooperation to move forward.”
Furthermore, among the activities held, young participants and project organizers also marked the International Youth Day on 12 August 2021 by visiting the premises of the Municipality of Durrës and meeting representatives of the Municipality and of RYCO. They discussed opportunities for youth and possibilities for strengthening regional youth mobility and participation through various projects and initiatives that RYCO supports.
“It is a delusion to believe that we are the same, that we can enjoy our similarities and forget about our differences. Differences are what makes us unique but they can be a source of many problems. Let’s face these differences, look them in the eye and try to understand them, accept them and constructively make a step forward. Young people who participated in this project are ready to tackle the challenges of their differences, they are ready to resist the burden that has been placed upon them, without anyone asking them if they wanted it. The present was a success, let’s hope for many more successes in the future,” President of Youth for Peace Mr Daniel Eror highlighted in his remarks.
Ms Ljijana Šotra, project representative from Balkans, let’s get up! Organisation added: “We believe that this is a path, or rather a journey, on which I as a young person can get to know my own self and to realize who I want to be, what kind of a person do I want to be, what beliefs and what values do I want to live, what kind of a society do I want to live in, and how can I as an individual contribute to creating it.”
The motivation and perseverance of each of the young participants and project representatives from three organisations is a guarantee that the project will help youth and project partners to stay connected and cooperate further, as well as a guarantee of positive long-term impact on peace education and youth’s role in it.
To conclude, “a young peacemaker today, for a more peaceful region tomorrow”, resonates as one of the key peace message shared by a young participant in the P.A.C.E project.