Gathering youths virtually across borders

 As we are facing challenges in fulfilling our vision of  “bringing people together” physically due to the corona situation, the parnership consortium under the Cross Cultures Project Association umbrella,    has developed new ways of organising our activities.

Cross Cultures partner organizations from Serbia, North Macedonia, Kosovo and Montenegro, are organizing the YOUTH DEMOCRACY DIALOGUE PLATFORM project, kicking off by a series of seminars starting from 27th August.

The project is supported by the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO), which is an independently functioning institutional mechanism, founded by the Western Balkans 6 participants (WB 6): Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, aiming to promote the spirit of reconciliation and cooperation between the youth in the region through youth exchange programs.

YOUTH DEMOCRACY DIALOGUE PLATFORM project aims to facilitate a regional connection between 250 young men and women from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and North Macedonia, by organizing local seminars and interconnecting regionally using online platforms. The seminars will offer capacity building in grassroots sports leadership and civil society engagement, with the emphasis on activism and modules of work during a pandemic.

The first seminars, starting on 27th August will gather 100 young people from across the Western Balkans in five different places, connected online. Young people will participate the series of workshops which will teach them how to become positive ”game-changers” within the region and their communities.

”Otvorene zabavne škole” (OFFS) have implemented regional projects for 22 years, combating discrimination, ethnic divisions and promoting inclusion, equality and other positive social values. From 1998, over 120 000 boys and girls participated in our grassroots projects, which are supported by a network of over 6000 young coaches, educated on regional seminars.

“Projects like this give us the opportunity to work closely with partner organizations coming from the Western Balkans, focusing on youth issues and we are very grateful that RYCO has recognized our project” – Esad Hadžijusufović, president of ”Otvorene zabavne škole’ (OFFS)’.

The importance of regional mobility in the Western Balkans goes beyond just travelling and crossing the border. What RYCO aims with the projects is to enable young people of the WB to experience something different and to know more than what they read or see in the media. It creates a space where they will feel comfortable to have a dialogue, to design new ideas, work, study and generally to cooperate with peers from the region.

This is what will make the difference in the long run and what will hopefully change the narrative of a patchy WB region and youth-friendly space where they can implement their joint ideas and projects.  This, without doubt,  enhances the economies, societies and opportunities of the Western Balkans.

The Open Fun Football School Association as one of RYCO grantees from BiH is doing just that – they will facilitate regional connections between 250 young men and women from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo* and North Macedonia. With these challenging times, they are succeeding still to connect young people from these CPs through seminars and working online sessions. So the focus is still on the capacity building of youngsters through fun and important topics such as sport, activism and how to act during a pandemic. It is cool, it talks about their needs and ability of RYCO and other potential stakeholders on how to communicate and help them in these times.

We at RYCO are happy to monitor and follow up on these processes more than ever, even in online mode. ” – Berina Bukva, Head of the local branch office, RYCO.

* (This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence)