KOSOVO/MONTENEGRO/SERBIA – Within the second RYCO Open Call for Project Proposals, co-financed by the UN Peacebuilding Fund, Gymnasium “Stojan Cerovic” in Montenegro, in partnership with Association “OMNIMI” in Serbia and NGO “Mbeshtetja” in Kosovo, implemented the “Rewind to the future” project, which took place from December 2019 to November 2020. The project gathered youth from Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia to empower them in confronting ethnocentric prejudices and hate speech in their communities and school environments.
Students from secondary schools in Niksić, Gornji Milanovać and Pristina, as well as teachers and representatives of local institutions and organizations gathered to enable an intercultural exchange of ideas and experiences. All project activities were strengthened by a dynamic youth cooperation and teamwork.
“I feel that this experience has changed my view on some places of the Western Balkans about which I did not know much about prior to this project,” one of the project participants Ms Jora Shala said.
The key component of the project was the program that connected education, intercultural learning, dialogue and activism, as students and teachers participated in interactive activities to develop their knowledge and skills. The intercultural exchanges took place both online and offline, and students were empowered to critically think of problem-solving approaches that will create the basis for regional youth cooperation in the Western Balkans.
“I have had many challenging jobs throughout my career, but conducting the project “Rewind to the future” is definitely the most specific experience. Not because of the scope or complexity of the work, but because of the emotional connotation that this initiative has for me, because of the deep insights I gained while dealing with relations between the neighbors in the region. It seems to me that I have learned more about these relationships through this project than through my entire life experience,” Project Coordinator Ms Anđela Nikčević emphasized.
The project aimed to enable young people to create sustainable democratic and healthy environments in schools by building safe and open spaces for their cooperation and engagement in common initiatives and youth-led activities.
“The feeling you have when you witness the development and strengthening of bonds of trust and friendship between individuals involved is priceless. If building and maintaining peace is a value in itself for you, intercultural projects in the Western Balkans are real proof that change is possible and certain,” Ms Nikčević underlined.
During the “Rewind to the future” project, youth learned about themselves and the social and political circumstances in the region, and also discussed the role of media in the process of building and preserving good neighbourly relations. They acquired competencies in the field of education for human rights and dignity that will enable them to remain engaged and connected within their communities, helping build a better region for all.
*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.