Linking Through Lenses: Positive stories for a new direction of dialogue between communities

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When we speak honestly, with the need to be understood, we look each other in the eyes. No wonder then that whether "Linking Through Lenses" is a way to understand, get to know and see each other in a different way. "Linking through lenses" was launched with the aim of involving young people in creative and alternative activities in order to convey and promote positive stories about the relationships of young people from different communities in Kosovo.

Social media has become our eye. Influential users of these media shape the opinion of both young people and other users. New Social Initiative used this opportunity, because the online space can be used, as they believe, to create a new direction of dialogue between communities.

"Unfortunately, negative stories are often the ones that get the most public space. That doesn't mean that there are no positive ones, but they just don't reach the public due to the publicity given by the negative ones,“ says the program coordinator Sanja Stojkovic.

Positive examples exist. And they are not just about one topic. LTL gathered micro influencers who are active on social networks and who are engaged in hiking, blogging, cooking, photography, travel, lifestyle, sports, dance, fashion, but also activism.

The presentation of these influencers has already begun.

We met Erna Salihu who promotes a healthy life through ballet, pilates, zumba, aerobics, and hiking.

Among them is Aleksandar Simonović, who won sympathy of Instagram users thanks to beautiful photos of his region - Štrpce and Brezovica.

Grant Temaj enjoys traveling, hiking and running, promoting mountain tourism, hiking trails and family businesses.

Ivana Pavlović "lives in suitcases", because she constantly travels and shares great stories, experiences and perspectives.

The married couple Nora and Pajtim Smolica are a good example of the fact that it is possible for a young couple to create a healthy family and at the same time work on building their career.

But we continue through with Mrika Nikçi from Peja.

At the age of 17, she became the youngest girl in the world to climb the seven highest peaks of seven continents, breaking the world record. She has her own travel company through which she promotes the natural beauties of Kosovo. She is a student at the Faculty of Law in Pristina.

How "Linking Through Lenses" on the one hand promotes dialogue and cooperation between communities, on the other side - prevents the spread of hatred.

"I think that media education, in formal and non-formal education among young people, is one of the key points in preventing the spread of hatred, as well as reporting posts and comments that contain hatred and negative messages," explains Mrika.

She stands by her opinion and confirms them through her posts on social networks, but also with her attitude.

"Creating space for all equally, equal treatment of all segments of society in Kosovo, equal opportunities in employment, education, sports", she says, talking about building trust between communities in Kosovo.

"Respect yourself and give as much love and positive energy as possible," she concluded.

But this is just one of the messages of LTL participants. In the coming days, we will meet more young and creative people on LTL's social media. Influencers from the Serbian, Albanian, Gorani and Turkish communities gathered. The audience will be introduced through photos and videos.

"Then comes the realization of ideas, production of content, initiating challenges ... We want the process to be as casual as possible, to show how relationships between people from different communities can be good, that it is not a taboo, or something that should not be talked about. Through content we serve, we encourage people to think critically before reaching conclusions," adds Stojković.

Well, let’s look at one another through lenses.

Using this text is allowed with a clear indication of the source and linking to the source of the text or the home page of the platform.  

This project is supported by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and is implemented by the New Social Initiative. Expressed opinions represent the authors’ views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations, UNMIK or New Social Initiative.

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