In 2016, I was selected by the Kosovar Youth Council (KYC) to represent my organisation at OBESSU’s Seeds for Integration ‘Training for Multipliers’ activity organised in the framework of the University of Youth and Development. It felt like a dream come true. I was packing my things, and was so happy that I will be in Mollina, Spain for one week. However, to tell you the truth, that happiness was not even close to the reality that I’ve experienced there.
The warmness you feel the second you land in Spain was in line with the warmness I felt at the Welcoming Party, which was the first session the night after arrival. Really it was so welcoming for all of us, and when I say all of us, I mean that it did not matter that I am from Kosovo, or the other person right next to me is from a completely different continent… there we were all from one state that is called WORLD.
It was a different beginning than what I’ve expected and I was kind of confused because before that moment, I was never surrounded by more than 200 people from all over the world, and I tell that much, it was breath-taking.
In 2016, the theme of the university was “Connecting Identities”, and I think that they found the right ‘magic wand’ to make people connect. Ohh.. I also have to mention Ubanda, the most incredible music band. You have to know about them that they are the soul of the UYD and every joint activity started by the participants following their music. They helped us push away all the negative energies as soon as we got into their rythm and vibes.
As regards to OBESSU, trainers made sure to share all the necessary information regarding refugees and migration in global terms, which is one of the most actual issues that mostly every country is experiencing. We talked a lot about statistics and the way this phenomenon is happening. Thus, the next few days we started to reflect on our countries and realised the difficulties and differences our societies have to face while dealing with this topic.
Thanks to all the active participants and good trainers from OBESSU, this topic was pulling us in just like a magnet. We got the chance to dig deeper into it and day by day it became much clearer that it does not matter how far you are from the goal, you can still do something about your community. We learned how to apply for the “Seeds for Integration” funds to be able to implement a project in our country, starting from the smallest details to the main ones. And with all this package and analytical knowledge, I realised that the situation in my county is not good at all.
Moreover, here I want to share a very personal story with you. On the very last day, I was packing my stuff and I realised that I was missing a pair of socks. It was sad because they were one of my favorites. Anyway, my roommate said that: “There is a saying, that if you forget something in a place that means you will go back”, and this sentence turned out to be true. Suddenly, I felt happy because of the idea of coming back again. Hence, I said to myself, keep in mind that if you ever are going back there, you have to remember the words of your roomie.
When I went back in Kosovo, I was so enthusiastic and so motivated about EVERYTHING in life, and I felt reborn. I felt like a little kid who is back from Disneyland and wants to repeat the same story over and over just to feel the same experience. In this case, I came back from UYDland so empowered to become a “multiplier”. I was discussing with the Kosovar Youth Council staff about the things I have learnt in Mollina, and we decided that after that experience of the UYD it is time to work on the topic covered during that one week, and put all that knowledge into practice.
It was the right time to put into action the sentence I said before that “it does not matter how far you are from the goal, you can still do something for people who might need your help”.
We organised a camp called “Seeds4Integration” Camp, which aimed to raise awareness on the needs of returnee students and, also see what the student council and we as youth organisation can do to integrate them. Moreover, they were equipped with necessary information regarding the consequences of irregular migration.
All in all, implementing this project is the reason why I got back to Mollina this year, for the second time in my life, and I am ready to implement hundred more activities and go back there again.
When I received the email that I was selected as part of the Working Group of OBESSU to create the Migrant Inclusion Toolkit, the first thing that popped into my mind was “THE SOCKS”, it is funny but that is true.
The big day came finally, I was again back in UYD, and the moment I entered there, my phone automatically connected to Wi-Fi, and I said to myself: “this feels so much like home”. Also, I was recording myself and the whole area to share it with my friends and I received a lot of comments such as: “How come you are experiencing the same feelings with the same enthusiasm just like the first time?”, and my answer was: “This is the magic of UYD”.
At this OBESSU event, we were all project leaders who implemented a Seeds for Integration initiative. We are all school students’ activists who have been running projects to strengthen the inclusion of students with refugee and migration background in our school and community. The whole week, we discussed the principals of active participation and empowerment and critically analysed each other’s projects. Therefore, all of our learnings of that week will be published as a toolkit so that other school students and unions can learn from our experiences and the best practices.
And to the you the ending of the weird story of those lost socks in an even weirder way, the universe decided to make things go as such, that this year I’ve lost another pair of socks... again… And, I wish I would lose a whole collection just to keep going back to Mollina and the University on Youth and Development!
Written by Desa Ibrahimi, Kosovar Youth Council member