Young Activists Use the Power of Language to Change Kosovo's Future

Speeches Shim

Thursday, May 12, 2022
Lorenta, a Kosovo-Albanian, spoke to an intimate group of 15 individuals about she and Mila a Kosovo Serb bonded. 
CBM for USAIDKosovo

As Lorenta Kadriu and Mila Mihajlović, two young civil society activists and friends would tell you, their lives are an open book.  On March 24, Lorenta and Mila shared their story at a “Living Library” event in Kosovo’s capital city of Pristina.  Living Libraries create a safe space for dialogue where topics are explored openly between storytellers (“human books”) and the audience (“readers”).  They are an advocacy tool used all over the world to promote human rights.

Lorenta, a Kosovo-Albanian, and Mila, a Kosovo-Serb, spoke to an intimate group of 15 individuals about how they first bonded.  They learned that they shared an interest in helping Kosovans overcome language obstacles across ethnic communities in Kosovo.  They both believe in the power of language to dismantle the barriers, prejudices, and divisions that persist between ethnic communities in Kosovo as a result of the war.  

Together, they advocate for both Albanian and Serbian languages to be part of the country’s official educational curricula.  Lorenta explained, “Language gives us the chance to understand each other more deeply, giving us more knowledge and new perspectives on certain situations.”

Lorenta and Mila also talked with the group about how important it is for young people from different backgrounds to participate in joint activities.  Events like the Living Library help participants ask difficult questions, challenge inherited prejudices, and engage in self-reflection.  Mila stressed that young people have the power to write a different story for Kosovo’s future. “...It is up to them to bring forward a better and more tolerant society.”

The Living Library event, organized by USAID’s Reconciliation and Conflict Transformation Activity, is part of USAID’s ongoing efforts to create more inclusive and cohesive communities across cultural, religious, social and ethnic differences in Kosovo.  For the “readers” at the event, however, there was one easy takeaway: Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Last updated: May 27, 2022

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