Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Being home and feeling more frustrated then ever.

(By Suzanne Groen)

Many people have most probably already reflected on our trip to Kosovo since we came back, but over the last couple of days I only really started to notice what an impact this Kosovo trip has had on me. Besides the busy schedule, we got to meet so many students and people who were, in so many ways, so similar to us. Hearing stories about the past: stories that deserve to be heard, but also stories that hold on to hatred and inspire "us" and "them" narrative; realizations that distinguishing between ethnicities is wrong, but subsequently also emphasizing the goodness of their own ethnicity and how they should fight for their honor and rights; a member of an NGO clearly accusing the other ethnicities of having committed atrocities and still continuing to do so.
The other always appears to be in the wrong and it has been so incredibly confusing. There are so many different truths, different realities, even about why Roma people live in poverty. Some said that they chose to do so, others said they were provided with equal chances in society, but then there are organizations who try to help these children in preparing them for education and making sure that they register for school. What is true? What is not? The line is so very thin and the truth is not necessarily in the middle. Where some Kosovar individuals still have hope for Kosovo others appear to have completely lost it. It was the latter that totally surprised me. Before we left the Netherlands, I thought we were going to visit a country that was definitely up and coming. It may have been babysteps, but they were definitely moving forward - so I thought. But when, one night, we took a cab to go back to our host's family house, the taxi driver welcomed us into his country and asked us whether we were having a good time. When we responded positively he acted merely surprised. 

"It's a country with many problems and it seems like nothing is going to change". 

- "Well, at least you are moving in some positive direction, right?" 

"Forward? Politics will always be corrupt and the rest of the world doesn’t even recognize us. We can’t go anywhere. Literally, we are stuck". 

It was the first time reality struck me. These people live in a country that has been fighting for its independence for such a long time, they are landlocked and the rest of Europe has turned its back on them. They cannot travel anywhere and the less progress they seem to be making the more and more people seem to get frustrated. I can’t imagine what will happen if Europe does not give them the very thing they need most: recognition and membership. These people need hope for a new future and for a country that is probably the most pro-European country in the world, (European NGO’s literally on every corner of the street) it is Europe that needs to give them that hope. If ‘we’ can save Kosovo then what the hell is stopping ‘us’?

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