News archive


30. January 2020.

The overcoming of inter-ethnic barriers was the reason why the Youth Empowerment Club 018, in cooperation with the Hate Fighters Network (HFN) and local partners of the Prokuplje Roma Association from Prokuplje and NGO The Future from Bujanovac, was implementing the project "Creativity in the Service of Inter-Ethnic Understanding and Cooperation" in local communities in Nis, Prokuplje and Bujanovac, over a period of 10 months.

"Active participation of young people in local and regional initiatives and actions of organizations at the local and regional level is essential if we are to build democratic, inclusive and prosperous societies and strengthen participatory democracies and the EU integration process," says Sanja Tosic.

Among the young people directly involved in the project, these barriers did not pose a problem but served as an inspiration for working in creative groups. These barriers are primarily reflected in the use of one's own language, non-verbal communication and some differences in cultural heritage.

What is particularly interesting is the fact that, despite the differences, young people of the Serbian, Roma and Albanian ethnicity easily communicated with each other and focused their attention on the similarities and the phenomena common to all of them. Their cooperation and desire for understanding has had a very positive effect on successfully overcoming interethnic barriers and has indicated the wishes of young people coming from multiethnic environments to nurture and respect differences rather than to perceive them as obstacles.

Sanja Tosic explains that the project contributes to this goal by strengthening regional cooperation in South Serbia and inter-ethnic dialogue between youth civil society organizations in Nis, Bujanovac and Prokuplje, or between the Serbs, Roma and Albanians in the fight against discrimination, inter-ethnic intolerance and hate speech, which is the main objective of this project.

Among individual activities, Ms. Tosic singles out a training attended by young people, youth workers, activists and volunteers of the Serbian, Roma and Albanian ethnicity, which is certainly one of the most important activities because it brought together three different cultures. Participants learned together about various concepts, such as intercultural dialogue, multiculturalism, discrimination, prejudice etc. 

"Encouraged by the gained knowledge and skills, they have been creating creative products together by different methods, but with one and the same message - we are all equal and we all have the same rights," Ms. Tosic said.

In addition to this official part, young people of different nationalities spent their free time together, and through that informal part they discovered the differences and similarities that exist within an environment, which further brought them closer and motivated them to continue their work and their individual involvement in the struggle for equality and interethnic understanding and cooperation.

The local workshops conducted in Nis, Prokuplje and Bujanovac contributed to the multiplication of knowledge and skills acquired during the training. Youth workers have passed on everything learned and adopted to their peers, thus directly working on raising awareness of the importance of combating discrimination, interethnic intolerance and hate speech among even more young people.

"It is these young people who live, get educated and work in multiethnic communities, and they are also the target group of the project, as well as the ambassadors of inter-culturalism, who will continue to actively promote positive values in their communities," Ms. Tosic also said.

Other planned activities, such as info days, campaigns, video competitions and youth gatherings, have a similar goal, promoting creative products and raising awareness of the importance of intercultural dialogue, multiethnic understanding and cooperation with even more young people in our local communities.

Creative methods have proven to be very effective in working with young people. Young people have the opportunity to express themselves creatively and to comment on certain social phenomena. The creative methods used in this project are music, graphics and mobile reporting and the creating of a video concept via a mobile phone. 

"These methods are contemporary and tailored to the needs of young people. They are a new channel of communication among peers and make it easier for them to convey certain messages. The topic of interethnic understanding is a complex one that places certain demands on young people, while creativity, in this case, becomes a means by which this complexity is simplified, so that the simple but effective message created by the participants in the project reaches the end users of the project, " Sanja Tosic said.  

The Youth Empowerment Club 018 was founded in 2007 and registered in 2008 as a non-partisan, non-governmental and non-profit civic association whose main aim is to strengthen youth capacities and promote intercultural, democratic, human rights (especially youth, children and women's rights), informal education, mobility, EU integration, culture, with a particular focus on street culture, the inclusion of young people from minority and marginalized groups, healthy lifestyles, economic empowerment of young people and environmental protection, as well as volunteerism and active participation of youth in all spheres of society. The mission of KOM 018 is to empower young people through active development and implementation of diverse programs to actively participate in community life and to solve their problems and needs, and thus to contribute to building a better quality of life for young people and the local community.

Source: KOM 18 and Coordination Body