WESTERN BALKANS – Within the framework of the advocacy project “A Better Region Starts with Youth” implemented with the support of the Federal Republic of Germany, RYCO organized a three-month Program for Students of Journalism in the Western Balkans. This program took place from November 2020 to February 2021 and provided young journalists, with an opportunity to create youth-related stories.
Under the supervision of their professors as mentors, six university teams from each of the Western Balkans six, composed of 18 participants in total, produced more than 65 youth stories and youth-friendly content. Even though most of the collaborations and joint work took place online, a lot of friendships were born and many bonds all over the region have now been established.
During the final activities and presentations which took place in February, 240 young people from the region gathered when the teams presented their work and results.
“This program was much more than I expected and it brought new friends to my life. I never got the chance to meet someone from Serbia before this program. We learnt a lot about each other, our differences and similarities, and got really connected. As one of the great results of this program, I emphasize the chance to create friendships with people from all over the region,” Ms Kiara Manja, one the program participants, stated.
Along the same lines, Ms Eva Londo, one of the mentors in the program, added: “I was impressed to see every person in this project willing to collaborate with each other and produce inspiring journalistic pieces that promote co-existence and acceptance. This joint work can demonstrate that when youth are brought together by positive intentions they can work well and deliver lasting success and with greater impact.”
In recognition of their great work and effort, RYCO organized awarding ceremonies for each of the teams and awarded all of them with laptops and certificates. At the end, this program successfully enhanced young people’s understanding of regional cooperation, youth mobility and intercultural learning.
“I think that the most valuable lesson learned from this program is that connecting young people from the region is not as hard as it may seem. In a media landscape filled with prejudice and misinformation, it is programs like this one that prove it is enough to connect young people under joint efforts and introduce them to each other and they will, as this 18 young people have showed us, take it from there and make a strong network based on the shared knowledge, interests, dreams and ambitions. I am sure that there are regional friendships formed through this program which will last for a long time,” Ms Dragana Prodanović, another mentor in the program, underlined.
A better region starts with youth, and a better future of the region will be achieved with the help of young journalists and their affirmative view of the Western Balkans – that was the final conclusion at the end of the Program for Students of Journalism.
The students that participated in this program come from the Faculty of History and Philology of the University of Tirana in Albania, the Faculty of Political Sciences of the University of Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Department of Communication of the University of Pristina in Kosovo*, the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Montenegro, Faculty of Law Iustinianus Primus, University Ss Cyril and Methodius, Skopje in North Macedonia and the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Novi Sad in Serbia.
Students expressed their interest and willingness to remain connected and contribute to a new digital platform that RYCO will launch soon. This online platform will consist of diverse content and news about more opportunities for youth in the region.
*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.