By Emilie Genvrin
Kosovo became independent in 2008, it is the youngest country in Europe and is not even recognized by all, yet its inhabitants have such a strong voice, so many dreams and hopes for the future of their country.
For the project I got the opportunity to speak to young Kosovar women as our project was about the voices of young women living in Kosovo. The first thing that stood out to me was the sense of nationality, which was something I had never seen before. Most of the people I spoke to introduced themselves as Albanian Kosovars, even though their entire family had been born in Kosovo for many generations and they had never lived in Albania, and even had a different accent when speaking Albanian. The fact that they said Albanian before saying Kosovar gave it even more importance in my eyes as to me, it meant they felt Albanian before being Kosovar.
It was especially interesting to me as I am first-generation Franco English, but I always present myself as French, even though my mum lived in the UK most of her life and I have an English passport.
However, I quickly realized that even though they did not present themselves as Kosovar in the first place, they still feel a strong love for the country that is theirs. I was told more than once during my interviews that even though life is hard in Kosovo, with not so many opportunities, there was no way that they would live anywhere else. They dream of leaving Kosovo that feels like a prison because of the visa liberalization issue, but only to visit their family in Europe and see America the dreamland, but not to live there.
Even though they did not present themselves as Kosovar in the first place, they are still hopeful and want to be part of the changes that need to occur in the country. They hope for “a more positive government” that will “actually do what they say.” The young people we interviewed knew a lot about politics, a lot more than most of the French youth know about French politics, for example.
The second thing that stood out to me during this experience was that the people of Kosovo are still hopeful. This happens, despite life not being easy in their country, there not being so many opportunities, salaries being quite low and corruption being a big issue in the country. They have been trying to join the European Union for years and did all that was demanded by the EU, yet nothing is changing. And they still hope for a better future, for positive changes occurring in the country
Not only are the people hopeful, but they are also incredibly kind--open to discussion with strangers, very honest while answering my questions and always answering with sincerity all the questions asked. They did this whether the questions were about the future or the past, positive or negative. They shared with us the places they like, their university, their favourite café, etc. They were always grateful for the interest that we had in the country and touched by it, thanking us for deciding to come to Kosovo and asking questions about our reactions to their country.
The people of Kosovo make me hopeful for Kosovo, I am now aware more than ever before, that peacebuilding is very hard and that the situation in Kosovo will not be easy to solve, that corruption will not disappear in a day and opportunities arise, but I think that the country, thanks to its people, has a bright future ahead.