SERBIA – Supported by RYCO and the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund through the second RYCO Open Call for Project Proposals, Technical School from Tešanj, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Technical School from Čačak, Serbia implemented the first youth exchange of the project ”Let’s Look Together Over the Fence”. The five-day youth exchange took place in Čačak, Serbia on the last days of February.
The project aims to enable young people from Tešanj and Čačak to get to know the cultures and customs of their neighboring peers through socializing and various workshops that are carried out within study visits. Moreover, the project aims to introduce young people to the possibilities of their participation in creating a better life and becoming active in youth activism while contributing to local community development.
“Our workshops are based on intercultural dialogue. We teach our youth how to approach and communicate with each other. We address issues of youth activities in local communities, and we stress the importance that youth have in the whole process. During the third project activity, we pointed out the matter of culture and religion, and how many similarities they have,” Ms Elma Škiljo, professor at the Technical School from Tešanj and project coordinator said.
Ms Tatjana Jaćimović, Assistant Project Coordinator added: “We aim to encourage participants to look beyond the fence, peek into someone else’s yard, understand and overcome prejudices. The idea is interculturalism, overcoming prejudices if they exist at all. Upon our arrival and socializing, we saw that there were no prejudices among the participants.”
The five-days-long program served as the first opportunity for peers from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia to meet and travel through the region. Participants also enjoyed program activities starting from a visit to Youth Center, Technology Park, and StartUp Center in Čačak, where they were presented with opportunities and services for starting their own business.
”For the first time, I am a participant in such a youth exchange. I come from a family where prejudice is neglected and put aside. Emphasis is placed on who a person is, not based on religious or national affiliation. The project is very important to show that we are first and foremost people, students and that we have more what connects than divides us,” Mr Ernes Halilović, one of the participants from Tešanj, pointed out.
”I thought about my expectations, whether we could fit in, have common themes, but it turned out that socializing was great, everyone was wonderful, and we fit in. We have a lot of common themes, a lot of common problems, so more things connect us than are our differences. This is a great way to learn something new about other nations, cultures, gain new knowledge and make some new friends,” Ms Milica Stojanović from Čačak said.
The beautiful gathering brought new friendships and some tears at the end but also the expectation of the new get-together during the youth exchange in Tešanj planned for the second half of March.