Kosovo is a young country in more than one way. It gained its independence four years ago in 2008, and more than 70 percent of the country is younger than 30 years old.
Kosovo took center stage in international politics during the late 90s because of a tragic war, and although the war has since officially ended, remnants of conflict are still present in some parts of the country. Kosovars told me that in some cities like Mitrovica, rivers divide Serbian and Albanian communities and few will take the bridge to the opposite sides.
Political, racial and ethnic conflict isn’t an isolated situation to Kosovo; heated divides across differences are happening all around the world. Take for instance a recent poll which found that half of Israeli high school students are opposed to equal rights for Arabs. The social injustices are not just centered on racial conflict either; these divisive conflicts span across all identities and know no national boundaries.
Even in the United States, the statistics on discrimination and conflict are chilling. About 22 percent of Americans wouldn’t want a Muslim as their neighbor. In 2011, there were more than 1,000 hate groups active in the United States. Beyond discrimination and hatred, there is an inherent lack of global awareness: 90 percent of American students can’t identify Afghanistan on a map. The United States is at war with Afghanistan.
On top of these social problems, our world is facing the immense challenge of tackling global environmental issues including climate change, increasing carbon dioxide emissions, widespread droughts and devastating storms. The numbers are scary, and if you dare to dive deeper, you must read Bill McKibben’s recent article in Rolling Stone. Most cases lead to the same conclusion: it will be dreadfully difficult, nearly impossible, to overcome all of the social obstacles that our generation faces.
Global issues are not discussed nearly enough in the media, and when they are, it is purely through the lens of politics. There is no discourse or vision of solutions led by citizens. Many, including myself, believe that the solutions to these issues will start with young people. I think this is why I am so fascinated by Kosovo — it is a forward-thinking country that is filled with effervescent energy, where streets are lined with passionate, intelligent and young leaders.
Photo credit: One World Youth Project. Members of the One World Youth Project Summer Training Conference in Kosovo.
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may
not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.