By Nada Elbohi
We have now been back in Amsterdam for more than a week. It’s funny to think about how long we’ve been back, which is about as long as our trip in Kosovo. It’s weird how time works like that. Since we’ve come back, we have all been working on our projects and preparing presentations for the class. I did my project in a group along with Carolina, Jet, and Ioana. Our project was inspired by Brandon Stanton’s ‘Humans of New York’. Unlike the original ‘Humans of New York’, our version uses Instagram as a platform, and we’re happy to see that the account has been receiving some popularity (only some, but still something). For our project, we met and talked to people both from our scheduled meetings and during our own free time. Our aim was to simply talk to them and get to know their story. We, then, took pictures of the individual and posted it on our Instagram account along with a quote from what they said, embodying their story. We didn’t have any specific demographics in mind throughout the process, but we did have a goal of meeting at least 30 people. Our goal was successfully met and even surpassed; however, not everyone was open to being photographed. Therefore, we weren’t able to post about everyone we met.
Before we began our project, we had initially prepared a list of questions to ask people from, but that went out the window the moment we arrived in Pristina! I found that pre-mediated questions interrupted the flow of conversation, making it more formal. It was much better, and people reacted more comfortably, if we organically started a conversation and adapted the discussion according to the context. To be completely honest, I am truly proud of our project and happy that I had the opportunity to engage in it and be able to meet so many people on the trip. If it weren’t for this project, I don’t think I would have met as many people as I did. Thus, for me, the actual process of the project and the act of getting to know such interesting and kind individuals was one of the best parts of the trip.
What really resonated with me during our trip, and specifically our project, was that it consistently reminded me how connected everyone in the world is. Perhaps this sounds cliché, but it best describes what I found throughout the trip and the process of ‘Humans of Kosovo’: it’s a big world, but at the end of the day, we’re all just people with our own story. In all the people I met, I kept distinguishing similarities between Kosovar and Middle Eastern culture -or Egyptian in particular. It felt a little bit like home to me, and I loved that. Now, as Anne has asked me, why did this specific aspect resonate with me so? The answer took me a while to pinpoint, but as everyone was emphasizing the privilege we have as AUC students, I realized that yes, I am privileged in a unique way. I, now, have lived in three different countries, which may not be much, but it is something. Being raised in California and then living in Egypt has given me insight into, what you could almost call, two different worlds. A Western and a Middle Eastern way of living. Therefore, this has enabled me to see things differently, better understand and discern smaller things.
All in all, Peace Lab has been an irreplaceable experience that has left me more optimistic. After meeting all the inspirational individuals that we did on the trip, it showed me how attainable my future is and has fueled my drive.