Duration: 2 days
Thus far we have conducted the planned kickoff meeting in February 2020 in Peja, Kosovo. The kickoff consisted of several key activities, which served both starting up the project and assuring project visibility and good relations with key stakeholders from the very beginning.
In the first phase we held a press conference, during which we presented the topic of the project, its objectives and the role of the Erasmus+ programme in helping to build a better and more open world. The press conference has resulted in better visibility of the project in the region and also in better understanding of the themes the project addresses. It also led to some media responses (see attachment media responses). This was followed by the kickoff meeting itself, which took place from February 7th to February 9th 2020. During the meeting the partners formed a steering committee, prepared partnership agreements and discussed all key aspects of the project implementation, evaluation and the dissemination of information and results. We defined the preliminary selection criteria of mobility participants, the content of each mobility activity, the development process of the toolkit, evaluation procedures, research and good practice identification approaches, and an outline of the toolkit. We also visited local good practices and initiatives dealing with young people.
To increase the reach of promotional activities, increase the recognition of the project and the Erasmus+ programme, and to establish a positive project brand in Kosovo and also in the wider region we also organised two crucial accompanying events to the kickoff.
Firstly, a presentation and networking event, in which we included key local and regional stakeholders: local youth, NGOs, local dignitaries, His Excellency Bojan Bertoncelj, Slovenian Ambassador to Kosovo, and His Excellency Phillip S. Kosnett, U.S. Ambassador to Kosovo. The event began with a presentation of the core project theme, the project’s objectives and planned outputs, an introduction to the Eramus+ programme and speeches from the invited dignitaries. We continued with a relaxed dinner and networking among core project stakeholders. This presentation was conceived as an opportunity to increase the project’s visibility, to foster the exchange of ideas among key stakeholders and to prepare fertile ground for future activities and projects building upon UCNE’s results.
Secondly, we also organised a cultural event to include a wider range of young people and to make them more interested both in the project’s theme and also in the Erasmus+ programme. The event was a concert featuring Gipsy Groove in Kinema “Jusuf Gervalla”, Peja. The multi-ethnic and multinational band Gipsy Groove comes from Kosovo, where it is one of the most recognisable music groups playing Roma and Balkan ethno music. Gipsy Groove was created in 2010 with the aim of refreshing the traditional repertoire of Balkan Romani music by introducing elements from other musical genres, especially jazz and ska, and catching the line between playing established Romani classics (eg ‘Djelem Djelem’, ‘Hederlezi’, ‘Opa cupa’,’Jag bari’) and spontaneous improvisation, which occasionally approaches jazz. Along with the modernization of well-established Roma and Balkan songs, Gipsy Groove is also characterised by recognisable original pieces. These are marked by a pronounced social engagement, especially in terms of reflecting on the position of the Roma community in the Balkan context and considering the consequences of the war in the break-up of Yugoslavia on the people of Kosovo and neighbouring countries.
After the kickoff the partners began exploring good practices, which are to form the core of the toolkit that will be developed during the mobility activities. The latter had to be postponed due to the COVID pandemic and related lockdowns and other measures to halt its spread. Because of this external factor, the project’s international component, which is crucial to developing the outputs, was on hold. In the meantime we have prepared the webpage, which includes key information about the project and also relevant information about nationalist extremism as such.