Regional Youth Cooperation Project: Online webinar in Tirana
This October is the month of many important points for our first regional project “Transforming the Region One Conversation at A Time – Inspiring Youth Cultural Cooperation”. Since we are going through its final stage, we are using most of that time to share knowledge and assist participants in the best way possible. On the 10th of October, we have met to talk about different aspects of regional cooperation with mentors and participants. This meeting was initially planned as one of the key meetings for the project and should have happened in Tirana, but due to the circumstances, it took place online with our partners from Rruga me pisha from Albania who was in charge of the activities.
The meeting consisted of three parts. During the first one, we had a chance to find out about the possibilities of cultural cooperation in the region and the importance of enabling the youth to meet and work together, the second one was dedicated to advise on how to handle the crisis due to the pandemic and in the final part participants briefly presented their ideas and projects. The mediator of the workshop was Ols Lafe, an archaeologist, national tour guide, and Director of the Center for the Development of Ancient and Medieval Albanian Cultural Heritage, University “Aleksandër Moisiu” in Durrës.
In the first part, Gentian Xhaxhiu, Program Manager of ReSPA (Regional School of Public Administration) shared with us why is regional cooperation in Western Balkans important and what are the possibilities for it. As Gentian said, regional cooperation and staying in touch are highly important in times like these. When live meetings and exchanges are not possible, we should find a way to keep the consistency of shared work. At this moment, cooperation in the domains of youth, culture, health, sport, education, and innovation are especially welcomed. They send a message that we can overcome differences, bring changes together, and ensure the prosperity of the region. But, carrying through a regional project can be challenging if we do not know where to find the right information or whom to contact. So, Gentian draws our attention to the Creative Europe Desk, Europe for citizens, and RYCO as a few options to consult and follow for calls for application.
Having a regional project is also important not only for parties involved but also for European prosperity. Reconciliation and good neighbor’s cooperation, as well as dealing with the legacy of the past and reestablishing connections among people are of key importance for overall progress and new chapters for all parties involved.
If we are hesitant whether the official institutions will be open for our proposals of projects, we can also try and reach out to organizations in the independent cultural scene since, as Gentian says, they have the longest tradition of cooperation in the region.
The following part of the workshop was a discussion on the impact of pandemics on the projects related to youth and culture. This time, it was Ols Lafe who assisted the participants. Ols started the discussion by sharing his experience and impressions from the beginning of the pandemic. As he says, it can be demanding to obey the orders and follow the advice on pandemic but once we understand that we should be careful not only for ourselves but for others as well, we will approach things differently. Breaking rules can be attractive, but we should be aware of the possible consequences and try to use the resources we have to make it easier. We should approach it as a chance for learning about ourselves and the transformations we are capable of. However, we should be aware that it takes a lot of time and energy to carry this through and accept every situation as an opportunity to learn regardless of our success or failure, and to keep going. This will last, and we have to find the balance. As Ols says, we should try to make the best of both worlds – meet when we can and have all other activities online.
The final part of the workshop was dedicated to the presentations of projects participants are working on. This was not only a great opportunity to let other participants know about their ideas and work progress but to hear feedback from peers and mentors in order to develop them even more. The main goal was to ensure an encouraging and learning environment for the finalization of the projects. We are really happy to say that the projects’ topics vary – from ones with the goal to interview people from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia to express their attitudes and impression on certain periods of time, some are working on art pieces, some are developing apps. Using similarities and differences as a common ground for shared work and creation. Hardships and challenges – different but same, discovering other pastries through research and personal stories and exchange with their peers
We are proud to say that all the projects, even this different, have one thing in common – they all aim to overcome differences and ensure dialogue and knowledge of the cultures of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia.
There are still a few chapters before the end of the program, but we are glad that the participants stay motivated and that mentors are understanding and flexible for the teams they work with, working on the final versions of their projects.
The Creative Mentorship is carrying this project through together with Rruga me Pisha Foundation from Albania and OKC Abrašević from Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the support from the Regional Youth Cooperation Office – RYCO WB.