Monday, June 29, 2015

Creating a family

(By Zoe Meijer)

As I sit down to write my last blog post I find myself struggling with which words to put down on paper. I'm still trying to process the overload of experiences that I have had this last year at AUC, and I am overcome with emotion, both happy and sad. Happy, because I have seen so many amazing things, have met so many wonderful people and have heard so many inspiring stories. Sad because for me, this month is a month of AUC lasts: last trip, last project, last class, last party. And also a month of saying goodbyes, or at least some heavy "see you laters".

Our trip to Kosovo has made everything that I have learned the last three years come to life, a real theory to practise moment. What has struck me most about Kosovo was the huge discrepancy between the people that we have met and the state that the country is in. Whereas Kosovo has made a lot of progress, the country is still dealing with major issues regarding recognition, visa liberalisation, education, economy, discrimination and corruption. On the other hand, the people that we have met were often so young, strong-minded, smart, creative, passionate and full of potential. Therefore, my hope is that in a couple of years this vibrant young population will be able to get a hold over their own future, and make use of the enormous potential of theirs.

In a course called “Violence and Conflict” I learned that major conflicts and violence often a result from “creating an enemy”. When one group creates an enemy out of another group it enables them to justify their violent acts towards that other group. Even though the Kosovo war has ended 16 years ago, in some areas you can still sense the wounds of the conflict. Unfortunately, victimization still plays a role on different sides. However, what I have also noticed is the magic sometimes created when people come together and are interacting, talking and, maybe most importantly, listening to one another. I have said it in my first post and I will say it again, from the first day our big group has felt like a family to me. And that family has grown. Bardha, Enver, their families, people from Qesh, people from the universities, in that short 10 days they have all become a part of that crazy big family of ours.

Therefore, I have given this blog post the corny (yet catchy?) title of “creating a family”, instead of creating an enemy. Anne already touched upon this in our last class, peacebuilding perhaps should be a lot more about creating relationships and communicating with one another. And I agree. Many people who we have talked to mentioned that the most frustrating part of the development of Kosovo is that they were often not given a voice. Hence, why not start talking? Why not come together, interact, talk and listen? As I mentioned, Kosovo is a country full of potential and I think that the only way to make use of that potential is for all these amazing (young) people to start working together. Of course, this is all well and good, but what about corruption, economy and visa liberalisation? Unfortunately, I also don’t have the answers. But I do know that these people are wonderful, and they deserve dignity, respect and rights, just like anyone else. So I would like to end this post by thanking everyone, for creating this amazing, quirky family with me. I am missing you already, but I will see you later.  

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