Permaculture Design Certificate Course in Croatia – call for participants

GAIA Kosovo and ZMAG Croatia (Green Network of Activist Groups) are inviting you to apply for PDC course which will take place in Croatia, in Recycled Estate from 18th till 29th of October. This PDC is part of 3peas – Permaculture as a path to peace project supported by Erasmus+ program of the EU and is open only for members of the organizations who are partners in this project.

Organization Number of participants Max travel reimbursment (EUR)
SCI Italy 2 180
SCI Catalunya 2 275
PVN Albania 2 275
CID Macedonia 2 275
VCV Serbia 2 180
VUK Croatia 1 180
CVS Bulgaria 2 275
Bugday Turkey 1 275
SCI Hellas 1 275
SCI France 2 275
SCI Germany 1 275
Utilapu Hungary 2 180
Zemljani Bosnia and Herzegovina 2 180
GAIA Kosovo 2 275

Participation fee for this PDC will be 60 € for program countries and 40 € for Western Balkans (Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina).



“Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system.”

Bill Mollison

Permaculture was created in the 1970’s by Bill Mollison, an Australian ecologist and University of Tasmania professor. He had spent many years out in nature as a wildlife biologist observing how natural systems work and became very distressed at the destruction that he saw going on around him. He decided that instead of being angry about what was happening and reacting against the destruction he wanted to work on creating a positive solution And he thought the solution would be living based on the patterns he had observed in nature.

Permaculture integrates land, resources, people and the environment through mutually beneficial synergies – imitating the no waste, closed loop systems seen in diverse natural systems. Permaculture studies and applies holistic solutions that are applicable in rural and urban contexts at any scale. It is a multidisciplinary toolbox including agriculture, water harvesting and hydrology, energy, natural building, forestry, waste management, animal systems, aquaculture, appropriate technology, economics and community development.


Permaculture Design Certificate course is a 72 hour training experience. Participants who complete the full curriculum earn the internationally recognized Permaculture Design Certificate :). It provides an introduction to permaculture design as set forth by the movement’s co-founder Bill Mollison.

The course covers sustainable living systems for a wide variety of landscapes and climates. It includes the application of permaculture principles to food production, home design & construction, energy conservation and generation, and explores the social and economic structures that support a culture that cares for the planet and all its inhabitants.

The main topics of this PDC will be the following:

  • the state of society and the environment, and what is permaculture
  • permaculture ethics and principles
  • soil analysis and soil quality improvement, composting, composting teas, malching
  • reading landscapes, plant communities and succession
  • growing of food in permaculture – gardening, farms, forest gardens, animals
  • water – water in the landscape, water collection, purification and recycling of wastewater
  • energy in Permaculture – efficiency and simple passive technology, and renewable solutions (sun, wind, biomass …)
  • sustainable construction – efficient construction of natural materials
  • urban permaculture – how to maximize the use of small farms for growing food in the city
  • society and community – sustainable communities, participatory decisions, alternative and solidarity economies, Transition Movement
  • permaculture design techniques
  • practical design exercise – the last three days of the course, the participants create a permaculture design for the projects of their choice

an example of permaculture design



  • active members of partner organizations or their local groups,
  • very interested in permaculture, but
  • also very interested in building of just and fair society and non-formal education,
  • motivated to organize follow up activities within SCI programs (workcamps, workshops, training, etc),
  • ready to get out of the comfort zone, to share living space with 24 other people,
  • ready and willing to share daily tasks for house maintaining, cleaning and so forth,
  • ready to travel by environmentally friendly means of transport and to eat environmentally friendly food for 12 days without complaining 🙂 – vegan and vegetarian,
  • not interested in just another training course, travel to Croatia, having just another point in CV and similar.

This is a serious thing :), therefore, we are expecting from participants to get prepared, to get into the world of permaculture, to practice and share permaculture after the course…



Application form should be sent to and your sending organization (check which are the eligible countries for the course) no later than 20th of September 2017. GAIA Kosovo and the sending organization will select participants, who will be informed about the selection results by 25th of September.

Important practical notes:

  • participants are expected to arrive on 17th in the afternoon and depart on 30th in the morning,
  • there is participation fee (see above) and maximum amount for travel reimbursements,
  • visa costs will be reimbursed fully,
  • travel should be done by environmentally friendly means, if possible.




The Course will take place in Recycled Estate, educational center run by Green Network of Activist Groups (GNAG) or Zelena Mreza Aktivistickih Grupa (ZMAG) in Croatia. The Recycled Estate  is situated in Vukomeric, 24 kilometers south of Zagreb. As the main location of the organization it is both a place to live and to work, that serves as a practical and experimental site for promotion and dissemination of environmental knowledge and skills based on permaculture ethics and design. It is also their office and there is a library in the house that is educational center.

Recycled Estate began life more than a decade ago when young environmental activists from Zagreb purchased land in Vukomerič and were donated an old wooden house that they were able to dismantle, transport and reconstruct on their newly-acquired property. This structure now houses a kitchen, sleeping quarters for volunteers and a library, and acts as the main eco-centre building for the provision of sustainability education. The eco-centre is a classic example of “learning by doing” as the original founders had to learn everything from scratch, from how to build and maintain buildings, how to insulate structures with sustainable products, to how to install renewable energy sources and constructing ecological waste management systems. This manner of acquiring knowledge has made it much easier to transfer permaculture knowledge to others. These days the eco-centre focuses, among others, on natural cosmetics, building and installing solar collectors and “food serenity”. The centre also features a children’s playground intended to trigger curiosity about the environment among children.

GAIA Kosovo was born in 2010 from Spring workcamp, which was organized by VCV Serbia and BSF Kosova in Plemetina Learning Center for Roma children, with the idea to become SCI branch in Kosovo. Since 2014 GAIA is full member of Service Civil International (SCI), which is a volunteer peace organisation dedicated to promoting a culture of peace by organizing international voluntary projects for people of all ages and backgrounds. GAIA is dedicated to culture of peace, social and environmental justice, as well as promotion of cultural diversity and through education and integration of marginalized and minority groups in Kosovo society. The main activities of GAIA are volunteering programs, non-formal educational programs, festivals and promotion of solidarity and understanding in Kosovo and the Balkans.


More on ZMAG:

More on GAIA:

More on SCI:

For more information, you can contact us via e-mail:


Call for EVS volunteers in Switzerland

SCI Switzerland is looking for 12 long term EVS volunteers for 6 different projects in 2018-2019 (see exact dates in the description of each project).

evs switzerland

EVS stands for European Voluntary Service. It is a program which allows young people between 17 and 30, to volunteer up to 1 year abroad. Within EVS the travel expenses, accommodation, food, local transportation, health insurance, language lessons and monthly allowance are covered and financed by the European Commission. More information about EVS you can find here.

Read carefully the projects and in case you feel like one of them is for you, apply through sending your CV and motivation letter to In case you are interested in more than one of the project, keep in mind that the motivation letter should be specific for each project. Deadlines for applying:

  • October 5th 2017 for A5 and A6.
  • October 31st 2017 for A1, A2, A3 and A4


Projects overview:

  • A1: Eco-village Sennrüti in Degersheim, Switzerland, 4 volunteers for 12 months (March 1st 2018 – February 28th 2019)
  • A2: Circus Lollyop in Lüen, Switzerland, 1 volunteer for 6 months (March 1st 2018 – August 31th 2018)
  • A3: Asylum Centers in Valais, Switzerland, 3 volunteers for 12 months (March 1st 2018 – February 28th 2019)
  • A4: Peace Council Zurich, Switzerland, 1 volunteer for 12 months (August 1st 2018 – July 31st 2019)
  • A5: SCI Switzerland in Bern, Switzerland, 1 volunteer for 12 months (January 1st 2018 – December 31st 2018)
  • A6: Schloss Glarisegg, Steckborn, Switzerland, 2 volunteers for 10 months (February 1st 2018 – November 30st 2018)


Eco-village Sennrüti in Degersheim, Switzerland (4 volunteers from March 1st 2018 – February 28th 2019)


The Eco-village in Degersheim, a holistic community project that promotes sustainable living, will offer 4 volunteers the possibility to participate in organic gardening, childcare, kitchen work, event management, public relations and ecological building construction or refurbishing. The volunteers will be encouraged and supported in developing their own ideas, initiatives and independent working. An aim is to learn how and where they can contribute to all aspects of community life.

The Eco-Village community area is located near a small village in the canton St.Gallen in a rural setting with beautiful nature surroundings. The area consist of several buildings with apartments, communal rooms, a library, guest rooms, dining room, art workshops, dance and yoga rooms, a garden with fire pit, sauna, children play grounds, yurts, vegetable gardens. The community is organized in several working groups with members from different cultures, ages and backgrounds. Volunteers can participate in almost all community events and meetings and get to know social aspects, conflict solution tools, group dynamics and organizational skills.

Accommodation: Shared apartment with kitchen within the eco-village.

Requirements: Participants are motivated to live and work in an ecological and open community with children, young people, adults and elders. We expect them to agree and live in accordance with our common grounds.

DEADLINE to apply: October 31st, 2017


Circus Lollyop in Lüen, Switzerland (1 volunteer for 6 months, March 1st 2018 – August 31th 2018)


Circus Lollypop in Lüen is a well-established traveling circus working with children and youth with the aim to encourage young people to develop their own youth culture and gain more self-consciousness. 1 volunteer will travel with the circus through Switzerland from March till August and make stops at many schools in several cantons. At the end of the EVS, the volunteer might even get the opportunity to accompany the circus to a country of Eastern Europe for the month of September, (mostly working with minorities in this country), but this month will not be part of the EVS and will be organized between the volunteer and the circus independently in case of a successful EVS. The tasks in the circus vary from setting up the tent to animate the children and help with all the circus related tasks for 6 months.
Each week the circus travels to another small village. They live in caravans and buses during the tour and work and live together like a big family. The EVS volunteer is incorporated in the base team and his/her creativity is needed. The main work is the circus animation with children and youth. The volunteer will practice with young people different circus elements and at the end of the week the children always present their newly created show in the circus tent in front of many spectators consisting of family and community members. The volunteer also helps set the circus tent, do technical stuff, crafts and housework and play in the small circus band.

Accommodation: Simple living conditions! You’ll live in a circus trailer during the tour and most of the times use the sanitary arrangements of the schools (group showers etc.), the kitchen is set in a trailer.

Requirements: You have to enjoy working with children and youth. You must respect the wishes and ideas of the children and try to provide an excellent experience for them. This year we’re looking specifically for a male volunteer as we need someone strong to help setting up the tent. If someone has artistic, musical or theatrical skills, this will be taken into account during the selection. It is important that the volunteer can integrate and feel at home in the circus life, which sometimes can be demanding (extended working hours, simple living conditions).

DEADLINE to apply: October 31st, 2017



Asylum Centers in Valais, Switzerland (3 volunteers from March 1st 2018 till February 28th 2019)



The Asylum Office of the canton of Valais provides several centers in the region, where asylum seekers live, work and get education during the time they wait for their decision for a stay permit. The Asylum Office will host 3 volunteers. They will work in “RADOS” in Sion, the center for unaccompanied minor refugees. The volunteers will be responsible for the entertainment and organisation of activities for unaccompanied minor refugees. They will also support the first registration office, which is located in the same building and is responsible for newly arrive refugees in the canton Valais. One task for both centers will be to help accompany the refugees to appointments (i.e. with doctor/ administrations), help with childcare, support some administrative work and organize events for the refugees.

Accommodation: The volunteers will live in two shared apartments in Sion (outside the asylum centers), including bath and kitchen.

Requirements: As asylum seekers often suffer(ed) from very stressful experiences, the volunteer mustn’t be racist or xenophobe in any kind of way. A criminal background check is obligatory. Candidates with experience in the described activities above will have an advantage in the selection process.

DEADLINE to apply: October 31st, 2017



Peace Council Zurich, Switzerland, 1 volunteer for 12 months (August 1st 2018 – July 31st 2019)


The Swiss Peace Council is a small peace organization that publishes a magazine and organizes different events on international peace and conflict prevention topics. 1 volunteer will accompany the production of the magazine, help with research and maintain the online part of the organization.

The office is located in Zurich, the largest Swiss city. The volunteer will work together with the publisher and head of Peace Council Zurich, occasionally with board members, a co-worker (former EVS-volunteer) and other local working groups in Zurich. Occasionally they will work in the SCI Switzerland office in Bern as part of cooperation between these two organizations. The tasks will be adapted to the knowledge and interest of the volunteer: Organization of (own) events, updating / refurbishing the online part of the organization (website/social media), assisting in research on peace topics for the quarterly published peace magazine, supporting the writing (in German), layouting and publishing of the latter. One aim of the project is the knowledge exchange concerning peace topics between the Peace Council and SCI Switzerland.

Accommodation: The volunteer will either stay in a room with a host family or a room in a shared flat in Zurich.

Requirements: To be able to work in the publishing process of the magazine, a fair amount of German language skills is required as well as English for the research activities. It’s also good to have abilities to maintain the online part of the organization (WordPress-CMS-website and Facebook), but not mandatory. As the staff of the Peace Council is in their second part of life, they’re looking forward to a young and innovative person who has some knowledge with social media to reach out for the younger generation to get them more involved into peace topics.

DEADLINE to apply: October 31st, 2017


SCI Switzerland, Placement officer in SCI office in Bern (January 1st 2018 – December 31st 2018)


SCI Switzerland is a peace organization, which is organizing 20 workcamps with around 150 international volunteers every year. 100 volunteers from Switzerland are participating every year in camps abroad. There are currently 4 staff members working part time and EVS volunteers in the office.

The main task of the placement officer is the placement of short-term volunteers in workcamps in Switzerland and abroad. You will also be involved in workcamp planning & publication, in helping the staff with the conception and realization of workshops and preparation weekends intended for the future participants of the workcamps and in workcamp evaluation. In these activities you receive the opportunity to get used to informal learning methods and to experience the role of a trainer. During workcamp season the EVS volunteer will also have the possibility to visit projects themselves and even take part in one workcamp as a camp coordinator. Furthermore, you can also develop your own projects/research/activities on a specific topic according to your skills & interests.

Accommodation: For your accommodation SCI looks for a host (family) where a room and food is provided or as a backup we rent a room in the campus and you get a budget for food. Lunch during the week is usually prepared among the people in the SCI office.

Requirements: You are between 18-30 years old and available for the full period of 2018. You have good knowledge in English and French plus ideally also in German and Italian. You share SCI values, are motivated for the work with young people and volunteers from different cultures, and interested in office work!

DEADLINE to apply: October 5th, 2017


Schloss Glarisegg, Steckborn, Switzerland, 2 volunteers for 10 months (February 1st 2018 – November 30st 2018)

In 2018, we can offer two vacancies from the 1st of February until the 30th of November. The project is about working in the permaculture garden of our ecovillage in North-eastern Switzerland, as well as living in the ecovillage. We are an intentional community of approximately 35 adults and 15 children, situated directly between the shore of a beautiful big lake and a forest – and still close to nice cities. For further information please visit:

The main voluntary work within the project is about permaculture gardening. Most of your working time, you will be involved in the garden, preparing beds, sowing, planting, harvesting, looking after our ducks and chickens, etc. You will experience one entire season from the beginning to the end. It is a great opportunity to learn about gardening, self-suppliance with vegetables and permaculture. It will be the fifth time for us to welcome volunteers and we are really looking forward to you. We have seen how volunteers profit a lot from their experiences when they stay with us. Many say that they learn a lot about themselves, about communication and about living and working together.

DEADLINE to apply: October 5th, 2017

BREfest celebrated Sharr Mountain nature and culture

From 11th to 13th of August more than 150 people joined BREfest, a festival of music and nature organized by GAIA (SCI Kosovo) at Brezovica, Kosovo. Local people and guests from around Kosovo and neighboring countries gathered in the ski center of Brezovica for this nature celebration.

BREfest – live music and fire in Brezovica ski resort, Sharr mountain, Kosovo; photo credit:

The idea behind BREfest was to highlight the beauty of Sharr Mountain, to raise awareness of environmental topics and to provide space for people who love the mountain to meet and to share their vision for the future.

The message of the festival “Sharr is more than snow“ emphasised the unique, natural and cultural values of the mountain, besides the attractive skiing slopes in winter.

Before the festival, volunteers from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Serbia, Turkey and the United Kingdom, together with local volunteers, prepared the place and the activities, and also organized a clean-up action in the mountain. Extinction of a Trash mountain in Sharr mountain is a short video telling the story of the clean-up action.

A few days before the event, the participants of “Tour of Freedom“ also joined the group, bringing stories and experiences from their bike travel through Kosovo. The travelling workcamp crossed Kosovo from North to South within three weeks. The volunteer got to know local communities and the environmental and social challenges they are facing. They got involved and inspired actions to act on those issues. The Bike Tour volunteers told their stories through impressive exhibition of pictures and words and via engaging human library on the first day of BREfest.

Opening of the exhibition of Tour of Freedom travelling workcamp; BREfest 2017, Kosovo; photo credit: Aleksandra Hiltmann

During the three days of the festival, the program was diverse with different activities, on topics including environment, migration and future challenges to the region. There were several workshops, such as Recycle Art, DIY (Do it Yourself), printing and sewing. In order to start each day with positive energy, BREfesters discovered the art of Capoeira Angola – a mixture of game, dance, martial art and music with roots from Brazil and Africa.

DIY workshops during BREfest 2017, Kosovo; phto credit: Aleksandra Hiltmann

Every evening movies regarding the daily festival topic were screened.  To explore the mountain, activities such as guided tours, a herbal tresure hunt and a poetry session in nature were organized.

There was also a space to discuss topics such as migration, zero waste and environmental challenges in Kosovo. Participants of “Route to Connect“ field study trip, shared their take on the current refugee situation, through an exibition and discussion. This linked the history of Sharr mountain, a transborder region with a history of migration throughout the past centuries, to the ongoing humanitarian crisis on the Balkans and beyond.

Route to connect exhibition, BREfest 2017; photo credit: Aleksandra Hiltmann

A group of 30 children and youth from Imaginatorium, an alternative educational center in Gracanica, also joined BREfest on Saturday, taking part in the different activities like arts, walking tours and games. For most of the kids it was the first time to explore the wild and unspoiled nature of the mountain and to be surrounded by so many volunteers from all around the world.

Children from Imaginatorium in BREfest 2017, Kosovo; photo credit: Polina Raynova

Jimmy Mustafa Band, a Roma band, Trio Bibera, a jazz group, and Rootsman, a reggae band from Macedonia,  joined the festival for the musical evenings. This mixture of genders and ethicities was an example of how music can connect people.

Jimmy Mustafa Band performing; photo credit:

BREfest was intended to promote a different approach to appreciating nature, by provoking the participants to consider their own impact on the environment. Food was vegan, free of charge and cooked by volunteers.

„Share and exchange“ was another festival principle which was implemented by encouraging sharing tranport to the ski resort, and also exchanging skills, homemade products, food and experiences between people.

After the success of BREfest 2017, the team is already thinking about organizing it again in 2018. And we hope to meet again with anyone who wants to join us to celebrate the nature and culture of Sharr mountain!

Raquel Amaral, Portugal, an EVS volunteer in short-term EVS „All colours of Sharr mountain“, part of „Thinking like a mountain…“ project supported by Eramsus+ programme of the EU.


BREfest – Sharr is more than snow…

11th until 13th of August, Brezovica

Welcome to the BREfest – a small-scale, sustainable, educational and creative festivity in Brezovica ski resort (map here) organized for the first time. It is about celebrating and appreciating the richness of Sharr mountain, building connections among people and reconnecting to nature.

The gathering will provide space and inspiration for exchange, discussions, music, challenges and joy. The program includes diverse activities for children, youngsters, elders and families. Gathered around the topics of sustainable living, transitive migration and wilderness:

  • Workshops on Capoeira Angola, cooking vegan, recycleArt, photography, Do It Yourself etc;
  • Guided educational tours about medical herbs, wildlife and reconnection;
  • Theoretical discussions on sustainable living, sustainable communities, nature preservation and human migrations;
  • Space for Exchange for sharing of home made products, skills and stuff you do not need anymore;
  • Presentations of local traditions, from dances and food to crafts and arts;
  • Evening program will be filled in with screenings of documentary movies and nature friendly music program.


8:00 – 10:00 – Greetings to the mornings – sports & spiritual activities

10:00 – 17:00 – Workshops, guided tours, children activities,

17:00 – 19:00 – Exhibition & discussions

20:00 – 21:30 – Movies about environment & nature

21:30 – 00:00 – Music


Friday evening >>> Jimmy Mustafa band – Young Roma band from Plemetina

Saturday evening >>> Trio Bibera Jazz from Prishtina

Sunday evening >>> World volunteers music session – surprise!

MORE INFORMATION about the daily program here 😀

MORE INFORMATION about accommodation, food & transport here

Volunteers force for BREfest co-funded by ERASMUS+ program

Call for pax: Future myths from the past YE, Trstenik (Serbia) 1st – 10th of September

Future Myths From The Past – Youth Exchange in Trstenik, Serbia

Balkan Myth Busters

1st – 10th of September 2017

This youth exchange will gather 30 young people from Greece, Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia, Bulgaria and Germany. After the YE in Kosovo in March, where the participants deconstructed of some of the national myths that influence our present, in Trstenik, we are moving towards the future! The participant will be creating future myths from present stories and will be encouraged to use music, drawing, comics, video, photography and storytelling, so their creations can be spread among our networks and future youth activities.


During this youth exchange the participants will:

  • Reflect on their personal identities and the outcomes of the previous exchange
  • Go deeper into the role and influence of the myths onto their identities- through culture, art, media
  • Participants will use backcasting as a method
  • Creating future myths from the past (stories, comics, photography, videos)
  • Uploading the created contents to the blog of the project- Mything point
  • Visiting religious monuments and medieval sites near Trstenik and exploring the tradition of the place
  • Visiting natural and cultural heritage near Trstenik
  • Taking part in adventures organized in the local adrenalin park
  • Enjoy local food, products, customs and tradition

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Continue reading “Call for pax: Future myths from the past YE, Trstenik (Serbia) 1st – 10th of September”

Call for pax: Youth Encyclopedia of (Anti)discrimination!

novi logo

Youth Encyclopedia of (Anti)discrimination with focus on discrimination of LBGTI persons and movements which resisted such discriminatory practices.

GAIA is looking for 2 more participants who are:

  • aged between 16 and 22
  • interested in addressing the topic of discrimination of LGBTI persons
  • have solid knowledge of English language, so they can activelly take part in program
  • residents of Kosovo

The project is composed of 2 trilateral youth exchange:

  1. Youth Exchange between 30.07 – 06.08. 2017 in Weimar, Germany
  2. Youth Exchange between 04.10 – 11.10.2017 in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina

More information about the project can be found here: Call for participants_CGE

Application form can be found here: Form

Please send your application before 1st of September 2017 to

Call for pax: One Step Forward, One Step Back

Volunteers’ Center of Vojvodina is organizing a seminar within the framework of the project PATH: Peace Activism through Lessons from History of Forced Migration, where we will gather 25 youth workers, activists working with youth and volunteers interested in or active in working with refugees. Participants from more than 7 countries will gather for 7 days to learn, share, challenge, create and change.

During this seminar, which will take place from 8th till 14th of May 2017 in Novi Sad, participants will :

● learn and analyze current situation in Europe and the EU, regarding the refugee crisis, legal frame, human rights and core values

● discuss about existing initiatives that support refugees and migrants along the “Balkan route” in local communities, collectives, organizations, institutions etc.

● learn about the wars in ex-Yugoslavia, forced migrations and challenges during and after the wars (status, inclusion mechanisms, discrimination etc.)

● learn about resistance and peace movement during the 90’s (deserters, journalists, musicians, organizations etc.)

● discuss the role of SCI in the past and today (SCI during the wars in ex-Yugoslavia, SAVA WG)

● organize a public event – living library with living books which had to leave their homes even though they did not want that

● create video footage and collect contents for the final exhibition to be presented at the final visibility event in Bulgaria in January 2018 on the topic of lessons from the past with the focus on personal stories and power of remembrance

More information on conditions and practicalities about the seminar is available on this LINK

Application form is HERE and the deadline for filling it in is 5th of April 2017!

Balkan Myth Busters – getting active

The second part of the Youth Exchange started by a trip to Prizren. We followed the evolving and everchanging traces of stories through the old city. Stories of another city, manifested in architecture and people’s memories. We visited the Mosque, Orthodox Church, Catholic church and the fortress, searching for different narratives about the same places, as well as the “League of Prizren”, a museum dedicated to this historical league of united Albanians during ottoman empire.

An inspiration-awakening conversation with Veton Nurkollari, project manager and artistic director of  DokuFest -an anually dokumantary film festival in Prizren, taking place this year for the 15th time- taught us how he and some friends created the festival in order to preserve the only cinema in Prizren. Eventhough they were left with basically no resources, through the years and their voluntary engagement and dedication for the idea, DokuFest grew so big that it is now the biggest cultural event in Kosovo. It was a great inspiration to talk to Veton, hear the story of DokuFest created from scratch and get a slight insight in the mechanisms behind the festival.

Back in Velika Hoca, we got deeper into confronting with our very identity and its relatedness to a collective identity. Be it the nation or ethnicity.  We talked about how far is being part of a group a dictated attribute of an individual and how far it is autonomously chosen. About which mechanisms we do recognize in our own behaviour that are dictated from outside. How we can overcome the totalitarism of single narratives.
Therefor we engaged in the part of storytelling in the last two days of the project, developing a narrative about the Youth Exchange. An apricot tree has been planted by our group, Martenicas -Bulgarian bracelets that announce the beginning of Spring- have been spread on wrists and trees all around the village, we left a plate to thank the village for their welcoming hospitality.

Besides, we had conversations with locals and project participants, collecting their stories from past and the very present. Those stories will be published on Mything Point, the project’s blog.

An introduction in the Easter tradition of decorating eggs by local women. Every year, eggs are being decorated with wax in every family. The first three eggs painted are considered to have special powers and are given as protectors to friends and family. The other eggs are shared,  sold -even reaching Belgrade.

On the evening of the last day our group invited people from the village to Saraj Garden, to tell them about what we’ve been doing during the past 10 days through a collection of photos and a video that has been created by some of the participants. You can find it here and get your own impression about how life in Velika Hoca looked like for us.

After going through 10 on all level intensive days, it was hard to leave the village. Our group brought a different dynamic to the place, and the connections we made with our hosts, cooks and the owners of Kafanas (small pubs) and Sveti Stefan Vinica as well as with the people we met during our interaction with the village, could not just end after those 10 days.

This Youth Exchange was a time of connection, reflection and creation beyond borders.


Balkan Myth Busters Youth Exchange in Velika Hoča – it goes on and on and on

After four days of talking and theoretical work we really needed to get our hands dirty. So, the best idea was to do a clean-up action with the locals in the village.

Our action was a success. We collected around twenty bags of trash and not to mention the unique findings – a school bag, a big bottle of turshia, a Ninja Turtle, an infusion bag and lots of shoes.

Genti and Azra got nostalgic about school years and had some fun in the playground of the school. Of course only after the work was done.

In the evening we had a more serious session about political myths and their influence on the construction of collective identities in national communities.
The Youth Exchange reached the end of its first half today. For the second part we will engage in the active Myth-busting part, dealing with the analyze and deconstruction of current political myths that are used in the formation of nationalistic ideologies.

Balkan Myth Busters Youth Exchange in Velika Hoča – the first days

From 13th of march till 23rd of march, 30 young people from Kosovo, Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece and Germany gather in the small village Velika Hoča/Hoca e Madhe, located next to the city of Rahovec/Orahovac in Kosovo.

We learn, exchange and share about myths, legends and stories that accompany us through our socialisation and explore their role in our lives. Living together with people from the local community of Velika Hoča we also learn through direct exchange about the historical and present stories of the village.

Velika Hoča gathers 600 people and 13 Orthodox churc hes from the early Medieval times. Wineyards are surrounding the village. The production of this divine liquid is a tradition kept since Medieval times- according to a legend at those times gathering so many people in this valley, that Golema Oča’s roofs reached till the city of Prizren, so a cat could walk from one city to the others jumping from roof to roof.
We also explored the stories of Dečani and Pećka Partiarha Monastries and experienced the welcoming hostability of the monks and sisters with some good monastery-made Rakija and whine.

This is the Saraj House. Here we come together for meetings and sessions. The word ‘saraj’ comes from turkish language and  means ‘palace’. It was built during Ottoman rule of the area. Today the building hosts a small museum – and for these ten days us.

In today’s morning session, Shkëlzen Gashi presented to us his report “The History Kosovo in the history textbooks of Kosovo, Albania, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia”. He assembled different representations of the history of Kosovo during different periods, which at the same time reveal falsifications and biases of each party. You can find an online version of his book here.The weather was really nice today, so we couldn’t help it but have our afternoon session outside. Some were very determined with the tasks.
In our free time we sometimes hang around with the locals. Bojan, the cool Kafana (coffeeshop) owner, says of himself that he is a legend and makes the best and only Espresso in the village.