It was a busy summer for PLAYInternational team. As we promised you last time, a big event for our motivated volunteers took place in August: the Summer Camp.
On the 23 of August, our trainers, Abide Ujkani and Senad Ramani, left Prishtina for Dragash to spend 5 days with 17 of our young volunteers with the ultimate objective and topic of the Summer Camp: The Change of Mindset. The programme was filled with activities aiming to challenge one’s stereotypes, to understand that diversity is enriching, to build trust among each other regardless of the community, and many more. And it would not be a real Summer Camp without a hike and a bonfire!
By participating in activities like collaborative and collective games, debriefing in teams, intercultural café talks, games, and workshops, Abide and Senad were happy to notice passionate discussions among the youth. Indeed, the participants had the opportunity to address topics such as interethnic cohesion, stereotypes and how to overcome them, or the importance of open communication. Let’s take a closer look at some of the workshops the youth could participate in.
The workshop named “Flower of identity” brought the youth to reflect on what defines one’s identity and how people define themselves in relation to others. What came out of this activity was that participants did not define their identity through their religion or community affiliation as we could easily presume but rather through the activities they enjoy doing. Although they are from different communities and can have different perspectives, they feel defined by the same things, for example, music. With this workshop, participants could learn about others but also about themselves, and grasp the complexity and variability of the concept of identity.
Another interesting workshop was named “Grandma let me tell you about culture”. In this activity, each young person had to explain to others a concept (e.g. inclusion, stereotype, identity, etc.) that s/he received on a card in different ways depending on the target audience written on the second card (e.g. grandma, journalist, friend, teacher, etc.). With this activity, the young volunteers nurtured an open and curious attitude towards diversity, developed empathy, learned how to adapt a message to the different public, and especially, improved the knowledge of cultural differences in communication. That is particularly important in a country like Kosovo, where more than 6 different communities live next to each other.
Furthermore, the Summer Camp was run with the objective for youth to get better know each other, continue building trust and overcome stereotypes. The young women and men could discover different types of music, teach each other some words in their own language and try to use them during the Summer Camp time. They could notice what are the similarities and differences between their different communities and reflect on how important is to meet with people with different origins. In addition, the teambuilding activities between the youth were facilitated by the fact that the participants had already met during the Volunteers days in December 2020 and during their first training in spring 2021.
On the top of proposed activities, the Summer Camp is also an important moment for PLAY trainers to keep a strong link with the volunteers, teach them new methods, and be updated on how volunteers implement the activities with children and if they need any more accompaniment to run them correctly.
Valentina Slavic and Milijana Ilic are our two PLAYers from Lepine who have been participating in PLAY’s activities in Kosovo for one year now. They think that the activities that they learned with PLAY not only made them grow but are also important and helpful for the children in their municipality. Indeed, Valentina and Milija very much enjoy conducting cooperative and collective games for children of different religions and communities in their hometowns.
They say: When the games are over, kids always ask to stay longer and play more with one another. You can witness the creation of new friendships. For them, the most important thing is not one's nationality but to be a good-hearted person and get together to get things done no matter what.
At the end of the Summer Camp, trainers were glad and proud to have been able to run this event despite the challenging COVID situation. Abide Ujkani, a trainer from our team said “I’m happy to have the opportunity to lead activities with youth from different communities for 5 days. I learned a lot from them and, we enjoyed the activities all together that allowed us to connect. Activities such as PLAY organizes make you always feel part of each community”.
The trainers could truly feel that through all the discussions they had with participants, youth could realize that no matter their origins, they always have something positive to share with people from other communities and to learn from them. We let you notice the joy of the participants during the whole summer camp in the picture below. If you wish to continue following their journey, do not hesitate to contribute financially to the next training they will receive in just a few weeks.
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