B&H Group in the BFE International Youth Camp
Timisoara, Romania, Summer 2001

A Partnership, started more than four years before in Baku, between Mrs. Beth Ciesielski, the BFE founder and executive director, and myself (Cvijeta Novakovic, the CCPN founder and president) was continued this summer through the participation of youth group from B&H in one of the 12 international summer camps organised by BFE.

The camp was held from 22nd July to 12th August 2001, in Timisoara (Temišvar), Romania, a beautiful old city, famous for its parks and with a rich history of tolerance and common civic life between the Romanian majority and the Hungarian, Serb, and Roma minorities. The site of the camp was the "Ion Vidu" Music College in Timisoara, just a few minutes walk from downtown. The host of the camp was the Romanian Ministry of Education, represented by Mr. Unguras and his kindly team.

Five groups participated in the camp: one each from Romania and Poland, two groups from Yugoslavia (Albanians and Serbs, all from Kosovska Mitrovica, Kosovo, Serbia), and our group from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The B&H group was composed of 7 girls and boys from both parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Republika Srpska and the Federation). The group was organized by CCPN in co-operation with the Youth Centre of the NGO "Buducnost" (Future) from Modrica, Republika Srpska. (This contingent was organized at a new level of inter-entity co-operation, and we hope for for further common CCPN-Buducnost projects.)

The group was mixed (Bosniaks, Serbs, Croats), with approximate age of 16.5 years, with 3 excellent (5) and 4 high (4) marks from the schools; 4 from gymnasium and 3 from other schools (technical and economics); one boy and 6 girls (unfortunately, 3 boys from RS could not travel, because of some document problems at the last minute).

The children in our contingent have grown up in war, in a divided country, and in communities in which tolerance, the way to real peace, has yet to be re-established. For some of the children, coming from mono-ethnic communities, it was an opportunity to meet teenagers from the other nations, even those living in the same regions, and make their very first friendships of this kind. For some, it was their first real trip in ten years. For all of them it was great time of learning and fun, meeting different people and cultures, learning English through interesting lessons, talks and games, from early morning to late at night; and learning tolerance through days spent together.

It was so touching to talk with them about their hard experiences, which they shared between each other without hate, without blame, but with understanding and empathy and the message - we need peace.

Especially moving was the friendship between the Albanians and Serbs, who all came from the same divided town, in which contact between different ethnic groups is currently very weak (actually, impossible). The contact in Timisoara was facilitated by the Bosnian group. We hope that this precious contact, which gives hope for reconciliation in Kosovo, will be continued by the MCYPC and by their own initiative.

The three weeks at the camp passed in different activities: learning, playing games, sports, walks, visits to the museums, cinema, concerts and - the most important - in gathering, sharing, making new friendships, new bridges between the people, bridges for the future, Bridges for Peace - as was the name of the workshops in non-violence which I (Cvijeta Novakovic) facilitated.

Some of important and interesting events in the camp were: Opening and Closing ceremonies, enriched by music performances of the camp participants and teachers; National Evening, with presentations by every group, on which B&H was represented by its hymn and one new song, a few words about the country and traditional Bosnian sweets shared with the participants; Talent Evening and Carnival Evening, evenings by the camp-fire ... and many other events, offered to the participants by the hosts every day and night.

We are very thankful to those donors whose support made our delegation possible!

During the time in camp, I had a few meetings with Mrs. Ciesielsky to discuss the proposed International Youth Camp in Tuzla. The idea for this project was born in their first meeting, and developed over the last two years, at last summer's camp in Cluj, Romania, and in co-operation with the Tuzla Municipality and the Tuzla Canton Ministry for Education, which have given their formal support to the project. As a city with multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural image, kept alive even during the war, Tuzla is really a great place for this project, on which we have to work intensively in the next period.

Cvijeta Novakovic

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updated 2 Nov 02

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