Drama and music bridging youth diversity and local communities

Vibrant young students, Mak Redžić from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Nina Račeta from Montenegro, talk about their participation in “The Art of Understanding”, an exceptional and interactive project within the Joint Regional Programme “Dialogue for the Future-Fostering Dialogue and Social Cohesion in and between Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Republic of Serbia”. Implemented by NGO Prazan prostor and AkustikUm - Muzička omladina BiH, the project was designed as an educational and cultural programme for young people. Redžić and Račeta were among the 24 students involved in musical and drama workshops, daily intercultural events, held from 15-23 February 2021 in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

What motivated you to participate in the “The Art of Understanding” project? What was your favourite activity of the project?

In my previous experiences, I have learnt that projects like these are not only educational and useful but also highly enjoyable. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I had not been in any social group activity for almost a year so, that is another reason why I was eager to participate in this project.

Every single day was filled with fun and educational activities but if I had to pick a one as my favourite, I would definitely choose the “Leading a blind person” activity.

We were split up into pairs, one person from Montenegro and the other from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since this activity was on day 3, we barely knew each other by then. For about 30 minutes, one person would close their eyes while the other would lead them around the city, describing their surroundings. This activity required us to trust our partner and that our partner to also trust us. All in all, a lot of trust!

What has it been like engaging with a diverse group of young people from other countries within this project? How was your experience participating in this project?

It took all of us a couple of days to simply get used to the idea that we would be spending the next week together for the entirety of the day, especially considering that all of us have been deprived of any group activities such as this one for the greater part of the year. I believe I speak for everyone when I say that participating in this project has been, at the very least, fulfilling.

What have you learnt from the pandemic crisis, how has your life changed?

The pandemic crisis has been a real roller coaster ride, still is. My first initial thought when this all started back in March 2020 was, everything looked scary and apocalyptic. Suddenly, everything was closed down; I couldn’t hang out with my friends, my university lectures were cancelled, and going to the local supermarket felt like a life-and-death situation. This lasted about a month after which I suddenly felt very optimistic, “The pandemic will last till the end of the summer, the latest”, saying to myself and everyone around me. I was very eager to get back to socializing with friends, only when it was safe.

What would you suggest for future programmes and/or projects, and how do you think you can contribute to that?

In my opinion, these types of projects are best brought to life through human connections with music and art. Other than that, I believe that “The Art of Understanding” project was spot on.

In my “closed circle” of friends and acquaintances, the majority of us are very engaged through NGOs such as AkustikUm - Muzička omladina BiH. One of the biggest challenges young people face in a country such as Bosnia and Herzegovina is the decision to not move abroad to study or work when they are presented with the opportunity to do so. That is why young people who do decide to stay are usually very engaged within their local communities, constantly working and trying to improve their life, the life of their peers and prepare for their future.