Crossing the bridge in a divided city of Mitrovica is often perceived as unusual and even risky at times. However, the opportunities for young people’s professional development don’t necessarily have to be restricted within their own communities. To promote examples of successful cooperation, the RCT team organized another storytelling event on December 01st 2021, at the Social Space for Deconstruction in South Mitrovica. Ardita Xhemajli, a young Kosovo Albanian activist from South Mitrovica and Milica Andric Rakic, a Kosovo Serb researcher and analyst from Zubin Potok, shared their story in front of more than twenty participants from all communities living in Kosovo.
Ardita is currently working at NGO New Social Initiative (NSI), located in North Mitrovica. After decades of no contact between Kosovo Albanians and Kosovo Serbs, Ardita’s willingness and desire to work in the northern part of the city mostly inhabited by Kosovo Serbs feels inspiring and sets a positive example that multicultural cooperation brings more opportunities to all.
At first Ardita applied for an internship with New Social Initiative (NSI), but not long after she got hired and became a regular staff member as a result of her hard work and dedication. Working at a local organization where most of the staff members are Kosovo Serbs for Ardita wasn’t an obstacle, but rather an opportunity. Her previous experience at the International Business College Mitrovica(IBC-M) ,which is a multiethnic college, enabled her to meet and study with students from all over Kosovo. Thus, Ardita has always thought that cross-ethnic cooperation must be continuously fostered and enhanced.
Her perception about the northern part of the city changed once she started being more present there. “I felt at ease. I would walk around with my sister, and I didn’t have any problems speaking in the Albanian language. Once I started working at NSI I got to meet new people and get to know life in north Mitrovica.”
Milica Andrić Rakić, Ardita’s colleague and mentor from New Social Initiative (NSI), has extensive experience as an activist and contributes to democratic processes in Kosovo. She strongly believes that cross-ethnic cooperation benefits Kosovo society, particularly for young people. Her first encounter with the Kosovo Albanian community was back in 2009, and she got firsthand experience with the community living so close to her. “Our surroundings play an important part in amplifying the prejudices we might have for each other, but that changed quickly once I met and started working with my neighboring community.”
When she first met Ardita, Milica was excited to be working with her, but also to help her and guide her along the way.
Milica: “NSI is not like any other organizations around here. It is an organization open for all society, coworkers are relaxed and open to each other. Whenever someone needs help, they can always rely on someone. I liked Ardita from the very first moment I met her. I could see how much potential she has, so I have decided to reach out and help her with everything that she needs assistance with. By time, we also became very good friends”.
Positive examples like Milica and Ardita are encouraging. These examples contribute towards multi-ethnic cooperation and harmony in a multi-ethnic society, particularly in a place as strongly divided as Mitrovica. This harmony is achieved through a willingness to cooperate with others and an openness to new communities, as we could learn from this storytelling.
RCT Activity will continue to identify and promote positive reconciliation stories to inspire our communities to seek out opportunities outside of their communities and apply their skills in the best way possible and connect with neighboring but still divided communities. Make sure to follow us on social media, and our next storytelling event will host professors from IBCM college in Mitrovica.