Monday, June 27, 2016

This is not the end

By Lisa Maya-Angulo

Back in Amsterdam, shifting gears. It is a strange feeling trying to adjust to my ‘normal life’ after this extraordinary trip. Although my ‘normal life’ is changing rapidly. Graduation is coming up, I will be moving out of the dorms soon, and AUC will be a memory sooner than I might wish. And so, here I am reflecting not only on Kosovo, but on three years of AUC. The first year, the first Kosovo trip. It seems a very long time ago. What a different person I am now in comparison to who I was then. What a different experience was Kosovo this time. It’s an indication of what AUC’s education has done for me. Not only in terms of classes and knowledge, but also in terms of personal growth. Where I used to take much of what I was told for granted, I have become much more of a critical thinker. Still, this Kosovo trip has made my head spin several times. I might have learned a lot over the years, but to truly grasp what’s happening in Kosovo there is so much left to understand. 

For me, one of the most formative experiences of this trip was our meeting with the Kosovo Women’s Network (KWN). Here, I heard from one passionate woman, Igballe (Igo) Rogova, the challenges and victories of female peacebuilders that I have written about in my capstone this year. After researching and writing about these issues for months and month on end, it was so deeply rewarding to see that these issues are addressed in Kosovo. And how! Igo is a woman with a real hands-on attitude, with loads of experience and true dedication to women’s issues. She runs the KWN with vision, staying true to their core principles of inclusiveness, solidarity and transparency. She told us stories of her own life, which illustrate courage, commitment, and everyday peace building.

This meeting changed me, because it shook awake a mind-set of doing, rather than only writing and speaking. If you really want to make a change, do it! If you don’t, there’s no way that progress can be made. What I’ve seen during some of the meetings we had, although certainly not during all, is people who are doing their job, because that’s what they are paid to do. They certainly believe in the cause and work hard, but the real passion and drive to act did not always become clear. A lot of aspects of Kosovo’s faith are outside of the hands of ‘regular Kosovars’ and even of the people working for the organizations we visited. Visa liberalization, international recognition, EU and UN membership, etc. And so, there is a lot of hope, but it is combined with frustration. Progress is made, but even more and quicker progress is demanded. What Igo taught me is that an effective way to use that frustration is turning it into action. This attitude was also very present at Kosovo 2.0 and at the Ideas Partnership, among others. 

So, I guess what I would like to tell Kosovo is to nurture that attitude. Use your hope and frustration as the fuel for change. Continue your struggle as gloriously as you have been doing up till now. And do not forget to take representatives from all corners of society with you on the way. Lastly, listen to the expertise within your own country, rather than taking lessons from (inexperienced) outsiders, including myself. You are the ones that know what you want, what you need, and how to do that. And if you wish, I, and countless others with me, are here to cooperate.

No comments:

Post a Comment