“Before I tell you what the e-bridge is about and why it is so important for me as a young person, let me go back to the beginning of how the story started and how we came up with this project.
Back in 2020, when the world got hit by COVID-19 and our lives changed once and for all, we all had to adapt to a new reality: going digital.
Here in Kosovo YMCA, before COVID-19 all of our training programs were being held physically- face to face where young people got the chance to meet and interact with each other and learn new things together in a physical setting.
So when COVID-19 arrived and we had to quarantine, we had to stop our programs that were being held in person and switch digital. We had to make sure that we were delivering quality and fun activities via Zoom to young people across Kosovo, so they can continue with their learning curriculums and develop personally and professionally.
During the pandemic is when we started building e-learning platforms so young people can work from home or come to the centres and socially distance but keep learning and joining in…
More than 250 young people across Kosovo got the chance to finish YMCA programs through the e-learning platform from September 2020 till June 2021 thanks to this experience. Now we saw potential and something that could even work internationally- that’s where the e-bridge idea came from.
The e-bridge is a collaborative project between YMCA Kosovo, YMCA Serbia and YMCA Ireland, a project that as the main goal has to bring young people together in an online environment and to give them the chance to learn more about peace, communities, social movements, what unites people and divides them.
Together with YMCA Serbia and YMCA Ireland we met online to build the e-bridge platform and exchange thoughts and ideas on what the platform should contain and what we want to deliver to young people.
As a result of these meetings we built the e-bridge platform which is self-paced, containing 8 sessions with different topics, where young people through ted talks, games, and quizzes will have the chance to explore themes about peace and reconciliation.
In order to make it more attractive for young people we decided on a matrix theme (especially with the new movie due out in winter) and we worked with blob creator Ian Long on personalized blobs as a reflection tool where young people can reflect on what they have learned during the sessions.
During this experience, I got the chance to meet virtually with other inspiring young leaders from YMCA Ireland and YMCA Serbia, and share with them thoughts and ideas on how to make the e-bridge platform a better learning resource tool for young people.
Furthermore, I got the chance to learn more from YMCA Ireland youth work activities that they do at their centers and transform these physical activities into online ones, which was challenging because we had to think of engaging ways and how to adopt the activities without losing the meaning and purpose.
Together with YMCA Serbia, we had to be very careful on what kind of materials we want to share to young people from our countries, taking into consideration our history and our cultural backgrounds and media.
When the e-bridge will be launched in December , I am very excited and hopeful that it will serve young people as a tool where they will learn a lot of things about peace, communities, SDG-s, perceptions and stereotypes.
Furthemore, I hope this platform will unite young people from all around Europe to see that we share more things that connect us rather than divide us.
I would be more than happy for us as three YMCAs thanks to this platform to identify young people who are really interested in peace work, so they can continue the peace work journey in other levels through YMCA and become people who bring communities together and inspire other young people to act globally.”
By Ylli Alija, YMCA Kosovo
Learn more about the “e-bridge” project here.