(By Olafs Arnicāns)
Another hot summer day here in beautiful Prishtina! And yet another day filled with new experiences, meetings and refreshing drinks. As I’m writing this, smooth jazzy tunes are playing in the background in one of my personal favourite spots in the city- Half&Half Café. The urban hipsterish interior accompanied with great staff and of course amazing coffee always works. The co-owner gives me a soft drink on the house. And in case anyone is wondering, the working staff in every café, bar, and restaurant are fantastic. Once you enter a place with a smile the locals cheer you back. Finally before you leave, a handshake and a brotherly pat on the shoulder seems like a custom.
It’s our final full day here in Kosovo and it begins to feel like we’re so used to this place that we should (have to) stay longer. One of the ways to show you know any new city is when you have saved the Wi-Fi passwords on your phone from so many places, that you always stay connected when walking through the streets.
Today, June 16, we had our final two meetings. With a few tired faces from the day (night) before, we first visited the editorial office of the local magazine called Kosovo 2.0. The rather unique magazine in the region shares and generates various stories, discussions and commentaries about Kosovo and the world. Published only twice a year (!), each issue deals with a single theme, including public space, sex, corruption, religion, sports and migration. In their own words: “Kosovo 2.0 pulses with voices unfettered and unafraid. Interactive blogs, articles and multimedia bring the untold stories and views of your world and their world.” I think this also perfectly describes the reason why we just had to talk with them as well. The office is situated in the centre of the city and we’re welcomed with smiling yet slightly stressed young faces. The new issue is going to be published in three weeks. We had a long talk with editor-in-chief and co-founder, Besa Luci, for about an hour or so. The conversation began with explaining why in 2010 they decided to create, first, a blogging platform and, later, the magazine. There was (and still is) a need to tell stories, especiallz about sensitive topics from all perspectives and viewpoints. A critical and in-depth analysis about the contemporary issues is needed. Popular media in the country often lack the capacity or interest to generate discussions about things that might feel awkward to talk about. Kosovo 2.0 allows different voices to be heard. The story further unfolded and we heard how sensitive some of the topics really are, particularly, when it came to the topic of sex and LGBT communities (for more info: Huffingtonpost). The second part of the discussion was filled with a Q&A session. Kosovo is a small country, and as such, everybody knows one another. It can be nice when you’re going out, but when it comes to structural critique of different media sources or even art, people often opt out from accidentally saying things that their colleagues and friends might find impolite. Going for a coffee with a friend might seem a bit awkward after you’ve just said that his article is, well, sloppily written. Another problem that we were told of is the lack of knowledge about recent history or even geography amongst younger people. Belarus was part of Yugoslavia, no? On the one hand, education here in Kosovo needs improvements, but also young people need to have the possibility to go outside the country. A reoccurring theme in our trip. Young people want to go visit Europe and beyond, and they have to broaden their horizons from their own experiences not only from watching movies (Eurotrip?) or hearing stories from other people.