LOCAL ACTIVITIES IN SOMBOR, SERBIA
Sombor Education Centre (SEC) team organized activities where participants were mainly highschool students and university students:
• 2 workshops (15+15 participants)
• Movie night - „Reunion – 10 years after the war“
• Workshops with children in the reception center for migrants and the involvement of participants from the project Balkan Kaleidoskop
The call for participants was open for youth aged from 15 to 30 and it was mainly promoted through social media (facebook, instagram, etc.). Guided by the fact that this topic is not perceived as very attractive for the youth in Serbia, we invested much effort to prepare the activities in a different way, by using interactive training methodology for the workshops, for example the first one was held in the nature, in much more relaxed surrounding to examine their knowledge and attitudes about the ’90 and the dissolution of Yugoslavia.
here was about 30 young people interested, around 15-20 per workshop, some of them were born during the war, some of them who were born after the war and some of them who lived in Croatia or Republic of Srpska and during the war they migrated to Serbia, and also Albanian girl who was born and raised in Sombor, Serbia but originally her family was from Kosovo.
They seemed to be surprised with the topic of the project because they were genuinely interested and they wanted to participate to get some more information about the topic. Through different activities like memory game (prepared just for this project), questioning the attitutes of participants, searching online portals with the purpose of analysing reports of media related to the „war years“ the participants got the opportunity to learn some facts about dissolution of Yugoslavia, about armed conflicts and other events related to the war of 90's. Also we presented to the participants parts of textbooks from different countries of region. This was especially interesting and surprising for them because they’ve got the chance to see different perceptions about the same topic. The workshops started with introducing through mentioning what had happened that particular year (there were participants born in 1992, 1990, 1995, 1999, 2002, 2003…). If they didn’t know, they could do online searching. Furthermore, we wanted to know when Yugoslavia fell apart in their opinion and most of them identified the death of Josip Broz Tito.
Beside workshops, we had organized a movie nights, watching documentary “Reunion – 10 years after war” by Norvegian director Jun Haukeland. The documentary is about Serbian and Albanian students from Kosovo and the attempt of reconciliation through two meetings – first one in 1999 just before NATO Bombing of SR Yugoslavia and the other one 10 years later. We chose this documentary because of the current situation and negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia about recognition of Kosovo as an independent state. After the movie, there were discussion among participants where it was clear that they have minimum information about the period of NATO bombing and zero knowledge about the situation in Kosovo in past 20 years. When it comes to bombing in 1999, most of them were in their early childhood or not even born but informed about the start of bombing through details from their parents stories. Some of them, used “we speech” like they were present in that time and they were not even born or was 1 or 2. That had showed how narratives especially coming from family, can have strong influence in the attitude of children and youth. One of the participants was an Albanian girl whose family was from Kosovo but she was born and raised in Sombor, Serbia. She was the only one with the direct experience from Kosovo and who was willing to share with the others her way of living in Sombor. She was particularly touched by the movie and precious for learning which comes up from discussion because she was advocated and “defending” both sides.
The general impression is that it is very hard to motivate young people in Sombor to deal with these issues, and on the other hand, the participants in this project are willing to continue to dealing with similar topics because they consider that there is too much prejudice coming from young people which they themselves recognize within their school departments, towards countries from the region (especialy, Croatia, Albania and some parts of BiH) and people from different ethnical, religious and cultural background.
Some of them already involved themselves in some of activities that our organization organized with migrant children in the reception center in Sombor and in this way they also worked on spreading tolerance and peace since there has been lack of empathy in Sombor from local people towards migrants from Afghanistan. Since this activity was during the realization of the project Balkan Kaleidoskop, we used this to connect with the armed conflicts during ’90 and people who needed to migrate to other countries escaping from the war.
Since all those learning activities were a form of peer education, some of participants will multiply their knowledge and experience gained from this project organizing similar activities in their schools in the future.