BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA/NORTH MACEDONIA – Within the second RYCO Open Call for Project Proposals co-financed by the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, SEPUGS Vasil Antevski Dren from North Macedonia, in partnership with the High School “28.juni” from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Mixed Secondary Technical School Tuzla from Bosnia and Herzegovina, implemented the project “Mix the Cultures Across the Balkans”.
The project took place from August 2019 to November 2020 and focused on strengthening mutual understanding and dialogue among the participants on topics of culture and diversity in the Western Balkans.
During the organized activities, youth were provided with an opportunity to explore and recognize similarities and differences between their cultures, learn about each other and make new friendships. Such connections and friendships will enhance closer relations between them by raising awareness of the importance of multiculturalism and regional youth cooperation.
“We learned that we are different, but also very similar. I am glad I had the opportunity to meet such wonderful people,” Ms Ana Trpevska, one of the project participants stated.
Due to the restrictions posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the activities shifted to the online space. Youth experienced a different kind of exchange and cooperation during the cultural activities and workshops that they attended.
“Despite the extraordinary conditions and online activities, I could feel the love, support and solidarity of my friends,” Ms Nina Kolevska, another project participant emphasized.
Speaking of their personal experiences, Mr Bojan Bundalevski, a young person who also participated in the project added: “I encourage all students to step in this kind of projects. You meet new friends, learn something about them and their culture, but most of all you are spending a great time together”.
The young participants took part in activities focused on intercultural learning and consisted of workshops on creative writing, cooking, traditional and modern music from the region as well as other cultural activities.
“Such projects show us how great things can be done when people work together on a mutual goal and proudly see it realized. Our project combined cuisine, clothing, music and culture-based opinions in order to bring together young people from three both similar and different areas and help them overcome stereotypes, prejudice and misconceptions. Friendships and long-term connections were successfully created and will develop even more in the future,” Project Coordinator Ms Irena Strejkic underlined.
The project “Mix the Cultures Across the Balkans” strengthened intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding among the young participants and helped them make new lifelong friendships.