(By Joon Colaianni)
It has been a week and a day since we have been back from Kosovo. It is really hard to describe how I am feeling about the trip, the people that we met, and overall all of the different perspectives that have been given to us in Kosovo. Today we are all finally together again since the day that we got back on June 17th. It's really nice for me to hear about all of the memories and feelings that people have collected during our 10 days in Kosovo. It has helped me re-embrace my memories and feelings of Kosovo that I have not been able to explain to my friends. I mean how do I talk to my loved ones about the trip that I just experienced? Do I explain all of the organizations that we went to, do I let them know all of the perspectives that we were given, would they even understand anything that I am telling them? This is something that we discussed during class. After being in Kosovo for 10 day and then going right back into the "real-world" it was and still is really tough for all of us to really explain the complexity of Kosovo. There is history to be taken into perspective, background on the organizations that we went to, and most importantly understanding how and why Kosovo has changed us.
In the beginning of class when Anne told us that we were going to be discussing our experiences of the trip, what has changed our perspective of peace-building, and what had the most impact on us while in Kosovo it took me a little off guard. After she told us this you could almost feel everyone beginning to hold their breath. No one wanted to start or knew exactly what to say. But once Ivan told his perspective many others in class began to share their perspectives as well, almost like a domino effect. Being able to hear peoples high points, low points, or even life changing events really helped me put my thoughts back into various perspectives. This reminded me of the many different perspectives that were given to us inside Kosovo. It also made me relate these perspectives to the way that people interpret the same experience differently. For example, when someone listens to someone else speak some other people might hear a different perspective then the person next to them.
I think that this is because of our emotions. Once you become emotionally attatched to another group you tend to forget about the groups around you and the hardships that have gone on in their lives as well. This is especially true if the side that you are emotionally attatched to had something bad happen to them by the other group. Yet, once you leave those emotions behind and begin to listen to all of the people or groups around you, you begin to start and see the whole picture more clearly. You have a 'what is' perspective within the society instead of a 'what is supposed to be' perspective of the society. This is true within any conflict resolution or resolution in general and especially true for a group of people that are coming into a society that is not known to them like we did. It was nice to know that peoples perspectives changed within our group from having a one sided view of one group, or even getting offended by what another group said, and then realizing that they had a bias view and rethought their perspective.
Overall this trip has really helped me see resolutions in a completely different way. I always knew that you have to listen to as many various views as you can but I never knew how complex it was to combine them all together when they have very little in common.