(By Ben Nolan)
It has been almost two weeks since we came back yet it still feels like I have not fully settled. My mind has not yet been able to wrap itself around what I experienced in the country of the Young Europeans. I ponder conversations, presentations, information, and even smells, yet giving it all a place within me is harder than I thought.
When talking to my friends and family about this trip I find myself talking a lot about the troublesome history Kosovo has. Our conversations focus on the war, its aftermath, and the ongoing problems citizens face. It seems as if Kosovo is being trapped in its history, inhibiting its future progress into a new EU country. What people don't know is that there is another side to Kosovo. A perspective that might be new to some of you. Kosovo is also a country filled with beautiful nature, wonderful people, and delicious food. It is filled with hospitality, friendliness, and welcoming strangers. Kosovo also has potential for a flourishing future due to its young generation that strive to become educated.
This other side of Kosovo is something that you will encounter in some of our projects that you may come across. Sophie Lagarrique and myself have written a 'positive newspaper' that tells you about Kosovo's development, progress, and beauty. WIthin this newspaper we also feature a different project by our peers which is called Meet Kosovo that introduces you to some of its wonderful locals. With our project we hope to present to you a different perspective on Kosovo. One that does not dwell on its past, but that focusses on its future. Please check it out if you have the time.
I will never forget the experience I've had in Kosovo. It was both a great learning experience due to the ability of doing first hand research, as it was a wonderful opportunity to meet some of my newest friends. It took us only 10 days to get to know some wonderful people and I would really love to see them again. For this reason I urge you to visit the petition my classmate Rebecca Franco has started that advocates for Kosovar visa liberalisation. It would be a great honour if we could return the warm welcome we received in Kosovo to our friends here in Amsterdam.
The blog has shown some of our experiences, frustrations, heartfelt moments, and joys, yet it is only a glimpse of a truly life changing experience. To all the AUC students out there, I encourage you to take Peace Lab next year to experience something that truly is once in a lifetime, and to all the others I advise you to visit the culture. You will not be let down, trust me.
It might take me some time to really digest all that I have encountered and I think I will revisit this blog in the future. It has been a platform for me to express my thoughts and to really brake down what was going on throughout this intense time. Perhaps once I have been able to really explain all that I witnessed I will come back and share this with you. For now, I say goodbye to a wonderful course filled with wonderful people and experiences. You will not be forgotten!