By Iris Loonen
Last time we saw each other, you were frustrated. You were looking at your European brothers and sisters, seeing how they were playing together. They were having fun together, leaving you to the sidelines. You did not understand why; they are your brothers and sisters, so why do they not consider you as such? Fair enough, you are the youngest of the European offspring, but being newborn does not mean one should be treated like a baby. To the contrary, you are truly being the young, progressive European you aspire to be. Instead of being locked in the old ways, you have opened yourself up to change and progress, dear Kosovo. And if only Europe saw this, and if only they included you in their family, they could progress so much as well.
Kosovo, sweet Kosovo, if you could only know how much you inspired, impressed, and helped me. How much you changed me as a person. As I wrote before, you showed me the importance and significance of each small effort. You showed me how important it is to value the ‘little’ things in life, like running water around the clock and the ability to have three meals every day. Through you, I got to know my peers so well that I now call them my friends. You taught me so much about ambition, perseverance, and motivation that I cannot even dream of living up to you. I keep thinking that if only more people knew about you, they would instantly fall in love as well.
Whereas this motivation and desire to change are admirable, and much-needed with regards to some aspects of your society, make sure not to forget who you are. Stay true to yourself. Do not let the world change the core of your being. When I last visited you, I believe I got to see a glimpse of this core of yours. It consists of friendly people, good food, and endless hospitality. It also consists of lush green hills, beautiful lakes, and a warm sun. Cozy café’s on the squares of Pristina, kids playing on the streets, and well-fed stray dogs seeking shelter under a truck. You are different cultures meeting each other, sometimes hesitant let go of the past, but increasingly accommodating to others. You are expression, smiles, and emotions. You are not afraid to show yourself; not afraid to show us your problems. But Kosovo, lovely Kosovo, stay strong enough to hold on to all the things that are great about you. Because we, the outside world, need your qualities as examples to strive for.