Thursday, June 22, 2017

I am sick and tired (of scripted answers)

By Ilen Madhavji
Okay so we are on the final stretch here, and gosh is it one heck of a final stretch. Currently on this Wednesday morning, all the boys are at Enver's house waking up and putting on their collared shirts and cologne before we head out to meet the good people from the Foreign Affairs branch of the Kosovar government. 
Now lets backtrack for a bit...

Yes, it is true, my stomach has been killing me for three days now and as a result sleep is hard to come by. Surprisingly, the thing bothering me most has nothing to do with my tummy or getting in a healthy 8 hours. Rather, it is the pre-prepared, scripted, safe, censored, and tripple-checked answers that some of the organisations have been giving us. 

The typical situation would be as follows: someone from our group asks a slightly edgy question, person from organisation pretends to play it cool but their body language shows their level of discomfort, person from organisation glances sideways at colleagues or superior, person from organisation responds with a scripted textbook answer that offers little to nothing to our inquisitive group.

The main culprits, in my opinion, have been the UNDP, OSCE, UNMIK, and IOM. Keep in mind we are yet to meet with the the government and the Vetevendosje political party that definitely have the capacity to "out script" the above-mentioned organisations.

As someone who is here trying to make a documentary (with Tom and Giacomo) that is of some value, the main challenge seems to be digging through these robotic answers and finding the truth nestled underneath. 


Just got back from visiting Vetevendosje and the Foreign Affairs branch of the government and the game has officially been changed. I felt like I was watching the Grand Slalom event at the Olympics; that's how good they were at dodging questions and spinning responses in their favour. 

In one situation, the party leader of Vetevendosje was directly asked about his opinion on LGBTI+ rights in Kosovo and somehow he managed to begin a rant about how the political left can also be effective at running the economy, contrary to the rhetoric that the right side has been spewing. You will notice that this is a topic that has nothing to do with LGBTI+ rights, and without a critical ear one might be in awe of his silver tongue and miss the fact that this guy avoided answering one of the contentious hot topics his party is often criticised on. Thankfully, Anne (#bless) was there to press him properly on this issue and we were finally able to get something out of him. 

How to overcome this you ask? Well I am no expert, but from what I have experienced here, my suggestion would be to keep asking questions, and preferably open questions such as why? and how? Furthermore, in order to counteract the layered metaphors that politicians use to paint idyllic pictures, ask for concrete examples and keep pushing till they name some. If they don't, well that says something too doesn't it? 

The art of interviewing and searching for meaningful answers in others is one that takes years (ask Anne!), but I am proud to say that everyone here has definitely begun that process. By the end of this trip we will have all gained skills and experiences that we will take with us and share with others for many years to come.

[Stay tuned for Tom, Giacomo, and Ilen's world-exclusive documentary that will be coming to an AUC projector near you!]

Thank you all!

No comments:

Post a Comment