Bridges For The Future I

Andy here sitting in Pristina International Airport reflecting on how I ended up here. Sure, I’m glad I made it in one piece to Kosovo after a turbulent Aer Lingus flight early on Friday morning, at that point I was wondering why I had ever gambled with gravity in the first place and I may have developed a minor phobia of flying. But here I am with an hour ‘til I fly home with no regrets.

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Two years ago I’d never heard of Kosovo, much less think I’d ever end up there. Through my involvement in the YMCA and ILP I’ve found myself with opportunities and experiences that had never been on my radar. Now I’m intrigued by this place Kosovo having learnt something of the country’s history and struggles and culture. Furthermore I’ve met a few of the country’s finest young leaders like Dorina and Orbis both with compelling and inspiring stories and much to offer not just Kosovo but the world.

I was here for the weekend as part of the planning team for our ‘Bridges for the Future’ seminar scheduled for 6-11th September in Pristina. The seminar is a product of YMCA Europe’s Roots For Reconciliation project. Yesterday we confirmed 35 participants from 10 countries for September and have an exciting programme lined up including; visiting Ferizaj where a Catholic Church and Mosque sit side by side in the same garden; a cultural evening with a difference; inputs from various Balkan YMCAs and YMCA Ireland and Cyprus on peace work and co-existence; and having Samuel Diaz from the World Alliance supporting participants to create powerful messages concerning ‘peace’ during the week and maximizing the potential of social media. We skyped Samuel yesterday and after speaking with him I am really looking forward to what we will all learn from his expertise in media and particularly social media – this will undoubtedly be learning beneficial to the national movements involved.

Well, not long now ‘til I board my flight home. I look forward to coming back here in September joined by some friends from YMCA Ireland. Bridges For the Future promises to be an engaging, challenging and inspiring seminar, already our friends in Kosovo Adi and Dorina have set the bar with the accommodation – a hotel that boasts having a pool, a sauna, a world record breaking bean mosaic, and Snoop Dogg as one of it’s former guests – and that’s before we even get the seminar started!

Andrew Hamilton, YMCA Ireland

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