By Roos Hogerzeil
Back in my hometown and already so many things have happened since we returned from our Kosovo trip. The weird thing is that I still have the feeling that no-one really has had enough time to recover from the trip: there is still so much to process.
Immediately after we arrived at Schiphol, I had to go to the studio to rehearse for the Dormfest performance for the next day. Glad I did, because the performance was one of the best ones I have done so far: the boys from the band were on point, the festival was well-organised, but most importantly: the audience was filled with all of my friends and I saw all the lovely Kosovo-group faces dancing to the music. Is there a better way to come back home?
I remember the moment that I was sitting in the bus on the last evening of our trip, looking down on the streets of Pristina. I really started to enjoy the city and the country and I would love to come back and travel around some more, and to discover more of the cities and its people. So many women so dedicated to their appearance, wearing heels all day long, tons of makeup and tight clothes. All the taxi drivers who speed like crazy, and all cars and busses driving retardedly – when actually the lack of street marks, rules, limits do not seem to bother the drivers at all. Actually, they function rather perfectly as they all adhere to the same crazy driving style.
This trip has changed me in many ways. I never thought that in the last couple of weeks of AUC (I am graduating tomorrow, whuuut?) I would find the energy to open up to new friends, but I found so many during the trip. The group changed me and we changed each other: we became like family and it felt very comfortable and safe to be with everyone. I am grateful for that: it leaves me with a lot of energy to go into the next phase of whatever I am going to do next year.
Also, the project that I worked on changed me. I am happy to have stuck with the initial idea for my project: making an overview of the perceptions of the current situation of the LGBT community in Kosovo. Whereas I thought QEsh (an LGBT organization based in Pristina) would be my main source of information, I found so much more and at times and places where I had never expected to find something useful for my project. Overall, I found that it makes me frustrated to see that there is not much particular (inclusive!) attention for the rights of those who identify as LGBT. Many organisations (apart from those who specifically aim to raise awareness for the LGBT community) do not pay attention to LGBT rights in their programs and projects. Why is this? Are they not important? Some interviewees answered that homosexuality is a taboo. What kind of answer is that?
Apart from my project, Kosovo left me with so many more questions. I have heard so many stories from so many different people, which confirmed that the most important thing to do when going to a place you do not know is to just open up to people, ask polite questions, and listen. Just listen, and reconsider your prejudices, because we all have them. People like to put others in categories, groups, lists, sides. But actually everyone has her or his (or something else on the gender-spectrum) story and motivations for the life they live.
For those who are interested in this course and made it to the end of my last blog post: I could not have wished for a better way to end my AUC career with.