To be honest as always, I have never had an opportunity to facilitate any kind of educational process related to religion, interreligious dialogue or religious-self. I found myself really good as a trainer of human rights education, also as human rights defender… but interreligious dialogue? Atheist-agnostic-spiritual human from Serbia?
As a youth worker, your professional obligation and responsibility is to keep developing yourself continuously and to embrace lifelong learning concept forever. That’s something which is making this profession both exciting and challenging at the same time. Being aware that exploration of the religious – based approaches to peacemaking can be invaluable in promoting understanding and reconciliation, I readily took up the task to facilitate one of the workshops on the topic within the Human Rights Youth Forum. It turned out to be one of the smartest decisions this year.
It was my second time in Tirana – crazily exciting capital of Albania, with the aim to create space for constructive discussion on interreligious dialogue between young people from Albania and Serbia and to encourage understanding of freedom of expression as precondition for it.
In youth work this is also a valuable topic, as it’s closely connected to efforts to unveil stereotypes, prejudices and prevent discrimination.
We’ve talked in Tirana about identity, intercultural dialogue, position of interreligious dialogue within, spiritual and religious selves (as integral parts of the identity) and so much more! You cannot imagine joy of youth in sharing stories and perceptions on religions of Albania and Serbia!
Mixed group of open-minded youth from two countries came up with four recommendations in the context of interreligious cooperation of Albania and Serbia which will be visible for wider public. I’m really grateful for their effort to create them, despite all the challenges the group faced during the process of their design. What I loved the most is their inner-readiness for honesty, for a bravery to talk openly on different cultural subtopics, differences and sometimes even prejudices about each other’s countries.
The biggest strength of the Forum was exactly the opportunity to talk and share. I can imagine one day that some of those beautiful young people could become decision makers in their countries (or internationally) and this Forum experience might be a priceless experience where they had possibility to deconstruct prejudices towards each other and cultures they came from.
It’s up to new generations of young people to continue establishing and nurturing proper intercultural and interreligious dialogue and overcome stereotypes and prejudices which are blocking both countries in peaceful regional cooperation. Only together we can achieve peace and only together we can make present and future amazing for living. For ALL young people.
Coordinator in programmes of Youth work
Programme coordinator for capacity building and strategic planning