By Reeta Outila
Back in Amsterdam. Actually, in my case, I’ll also be leaving Amsterdam soon. It really is a time of changes. As you’ve already read from other blog posts, these final posts are a way for us to reflect on the trip and what has changed for us – maybe even give some advice to the organisations that we visited.
Our time in Kosovo was a time to not only get to know the different perspectives within Kosovo, but also get to know each other. Some of these individuals, who embarked on the journey of Peace Lab with me, I had taken multiple courses with at AUC, but only on this trip did we share personal stories with each other. It was very intriguing to me how on this trip so many of my classmates were curious not only to find out about Kosovo, but also about my own home country. Honestly, during these 10 days, I received more questions about Finland than throughout the three years that I’ve spent in Amsterdam. This phenomenon is very curious to me, and I couldn’t tell you why it occurred even if I tried. I do have my guesses though. While in Kosovo, we were all somehow in a different mind-set. It feels impossible to explain, but now that we have had time to reflect, I’m sure that there was a shift in mind-set, at least on my own part. We were questioning everything. And by doing so, we were also open to being challenged in our own perspective. That’s it: we were open. Open to new and different perspectives.
It happens to all of us, in everyday life you stop questioning why things are the way that they are, and you just focus on living your life, one day at a time. Our trip to Kosovo, for me, was not only about Kosovo, but also to think about our own lives, and our home countries, our identities, and how they have been shaped not only through our own actions, but also through the history of our countries.
In terms of advice for organisations, the one thing that I did note during this trip was how much more powerful the message of the local grassroots organisations was. The founders of these organisations, such as the Kosovo Women’s Network, lived and breathed their message. They were truly dedicated to their cause, and it felt like more can be achieved with this kind of attitude. Another thing that struck me was how many organisations there are present in Kosovo, of which the focus is very similar. Many did cooperate with one another, but it seemed like there could be more cooperation as well. I can’t help but wonder if more could be achieved if these organisations took a more active role in collaborating with one another.
But, let’s return back to this ‘openness’ that I mentioned earlier. Sitting in my almost empty apartment, getting ready for my final days in Amsterdam, I can’t help but hope that this constant questioning of ones self and those around you is something that we can all keep doing in our everyday life. This is the only way for us to stay challenged, and to attempt to understand this world that we live in.