Monday, June 27, 2016

Seeing people behind the groups

By Babs Kamsteeg

Only 3 weeks ago I still had everything in front of me. Despite our best efforts to prepare ourselves to the 10 days that were coming, I could never have imagined what it would be like. I could not have imagined myself after this trip, struggling to write a blog about what I have learned in the past month, just because I have no clue where to start. I could not have imagined how emotionally involved I would ever get in an AUC course. Peace Lab has had its impact, that is for sure.

When we arrived at the airport of Pristina I Enver and Bartha for the first time. The few people from our group who had already met them two years ago enthusiastically hugged them and were super happy to see them again. Honestly, I was quite surprised. Why did they seem so close with our ‘interpreters’? During our last night at the lake, I remembered this thought from the first day and realized I completely understood.

This seems just a small anecdote about how I got to know two people from Kosovo in 10 days and how much I had started to like them. But I think it is symbolic for how I experienced this trip. I first saw Peace Lab just as my ‘June intensive’. Just a course. A special one though, because we would go to Kosovo, but still, just a course. Thinking I understood quite well what I was going to find in Kosovo. But I kept being surprised, I kept understanding more and more and I kept getting more emotionally involved every day I was there. I talked to people, got to know them and realized those people were ‘the Albanians’ and ‘the Serbs’ and ‘the Kosovars’ I had learned about. I sometimes recognized the generalizations about these groups of people when talking to them, but more often I realized they were just people. I got to know people instead of groups. I also saw how much more effective it was, and how much more inspiring when I saw people and organizations work with people and not with groups. I heard about failing attempts to reconcile ‘Serbs and Albanians’. Yes, because that is too big. I also heard about an excursion to an old Orthodox church and a special Mosque with students the north and from the south of Mitrovice. That was effective. I also heard about students taking English classes together. It was in such small-scale projects in which people got the chance to get to know each other that I saw people get enthusiastic and got inspired myself.

So what I learned, and what I would like to tell all organizations in Kosovo, is that we should all try to see people instead of groups and to get to know each other and listen. When I arrived in Pristina I was surprised because I thought I understood what the trip to Kosovo had been like two years ago. But I clearly didn’t, because I had not met its people yet.

PS. see our project for some of the people I met: Kosovo about Kosovo 

No comments:

Post a Comment