Journey to the heart of the Balkans

Kosovo (or Kosova) is a young country, full of contrasts and reminiscent of many civilizations that passed through there, but, nevertheless, with a very old language: Albanian.

There are Albanians from Kosovo, Albania, North Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina, and Montenegro. Many shared a story under the same flag of two eagles that see the world from a red sky; many different ethnic groups with the same linguistic culture. The people with whom I had the pleasure of sharing had some common characteristics: being welcoming, hospitable, curious, cheerful, kind and supportive.

In my case, the trip was very enriching on a cultural and human level, since I was the only one who did not speak Albanian, and the only who is not from the Balkans, but I have to say that I loved it, especially because, apart from learning some Albanian ( like ‘Faleminderit’= thank you) I was able to have a total immersion in the culture, the roots, the dances and the music, their sweets (there is a cake called “tres leches”, in Spanish, that is delicious), the traditions and the way to see the world.

I have to say that I was surprised, although it is still a sensitive issue, the course aimed to be able to witness initiatives of reconciliation processes and restorative justice through digital tools, and it was hard, having debates on issues such as the sovereignty of the land, the suffering inherited from the experiences lived in that land, and the memories left by a war, and all of this without being able to speak the same language.

Many life stories and people who wanted to know and share approached me, welcomed me and we were able to jointly create a digitization project, with tools so that the new generations are more connected and can look at the past with different eyes, in order to be able to accept what happened without it being a burden, looking to the future with serenity and hope. A future where the Balkan countries are more connected to each other and can jointly create positive change initiatives for their inhabitants.

I realized that the young people of the Balkans want to grow, to contribute, with a lot of curiosity about the world, and a lot of preparation to write new narratives, in a present that is increasingly charged with future.

Author: Anna 

The international training course ‘Optimus Youth’, hosted by the NGO Lens Kosovo in Peja (Kosovo) took place from August 25 to September 2, 2022, within the framework of the KA2 project ‘Transformers- the Age of Youth’, whose main objective is the creation of new digital and educational tools to promote peaceful coexistence and reconciliation. 

Activity was carried out with the support of the Erasmus + program of the European Commission, in partnership with the NGO Fundació Catalunya Voluntària and other youth and non-governmental organizations from Kosovo, Albania, Croatia, Poland, North Macedonia, Serbia and Lithuania.