BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA/KOSOVO*/MONTENEGRO/NORTH MACEDONIA/SERBIA – Supported by RYCO within the fourth Open Call for Project Proposals co-financed by the European Union, the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia (Helsinški odbor za ljudska prava u Srbiji) in partnership with the Center for Peace and Tolerance Pristina and Democracy Plus from Kosovo, (Grammar school “Slobodan Skerovic”) from Montenegro, United World College Mostar from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights – Skopje from North Macedonia implemented a summer school within the project “Challenge History – React for the Future”.
The summer school took place from 28 July to 1 August 2021 in Kovačica, Serbia. It aimed at strengthening the critical examination of historical legacies and narratives in the Western Balkan region by providing youth with open and safe spaces for dialogue. It enriched young students’ knowledge and understanding of the past by encouraging them to explore topics of regional reconciliation and peacebuilding.
“I myself am extremely satisfied with the Summer School’s implementation and participants. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet such enthusiastic and positive young individuals and coordinate a project that brought them together. Not only that most of them had plenty to share and learn from each other, but they also displayed vigorous hope for the future or the region, and the relationship between the ex-yu societies,” Project Coordinator Ms Azra Hasanbegović stated.
During the activities implemented in the summer school, youth learned how to start social campaigns in their home communities and to address issues relevant to their peers.
“This experience was vital for most of the participants, considering many of them never had the opportunity to meet young individuals in the region and share their perspectives, traditions, and conflicting local narratives, which helped them expand their views and potentially educate and influence their peers in doing the same,” Ms Hasanbegović added.
Speaking of the importance of regional youth exchanges, Mr Jusuf Hajrovic, project participant and a volunteer from Bosnia and Herzegovina emphasised the beauty of regional gatherings and the importance of the topics that tackle the recent history of ex-Yugoslav societies. He added: ”Even though I am young to remember the union of the societies, I am grateful to be able to hear from the experts on this topics and learn both the horrors of the 90s and the consequences it brought to post-conflict societies.”
Through non-formal education and problem-based learning approach the summer school program offered an innovative learning platform for youth. It also helped them develop skills that are vital to active citizenship, intercultural learning and dialogue, respect and solidarity in society.
“Despite living in a multicultural environment my whole life, I only now realize the difference between multicultural and intercultural, and the beauty of the latter which I experienced during the Summer School,” Mr Dzemil Niksic, project participant from Serbia, underlined.
Young participants of the summer school “Challenge History – React for the Future” will create their own alumni network that actively engages in promoting the values of the project in their communities. Their connections and friendships made during the summer school will help them remain engaged in future projects that foster regional youth cooperation and peacebuilding.
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.