JEF North Rhine-Westphalia - JEF Kosovo, 23-29 May 2019, NRW (DE)

JEF Kosovo and JEF Northrhine-Westphalia were spending one week together in Germany (Düssedorf and Münster) and were focusing on three main topics: EU-Balkan relations, migration and integration policies and the problem of populism in both our countries. We started with a workshop where the German-Kosovar participants discovered the migration history of Düsseldorf in small groups. The organising team sent them to different neighbourhoods of the city and the groups had to do a photo reportage about the places and people they have met on their way. We then discussed what we saw with a migration expert and Green party politician back at the youth hostel. This "fact checking" discussion allowed us to know more about Germany´s history of migration and how current developments are perceived in Kosovo. Kosovar participants also shared their personal stories of migration back from the times of the Kosovo war. The other days of the exchange were filled with a discussion at the regional Parliament, a meeting with a member of the Bundestag, Germany´s Parliament, a workshop about how to tackle populism with JEF Europe, an exchange with a policy expert and social activities like a city tour and a barbecue. Read a summary and some thoughts about the exchange

This exchange was the second time JEFers from Germany and Kosovo met. The first meeting took place in Prishtina in 2015 where we met with NGOs, the EU´s Special Representative and many more organisations. One member of JEF showed us her home town, the divided town of Mitrovica which was an extraordinary experience for many of the participants. After this first encounter, the plan was to invite JEF Kosovo to Germany which finally came true two years later.

Best practices :
I think the most important is to share responsibilities equally and to be clear about expectations ahead of the event. It´s also crucial to gather a good team and to share the workload among the team members. I recommend that, if possible, the organising team meets once in person ahead of the exchange. A good team dynamics can evolve from this and people really create a team feeling. Don´t hesitate to get in touch with JEF Europe or JEF alumnis who can help you moderating the exchange or to get good speakers or contacts. We should make more use of our network because we have such a huge expertise out there!

The first meeting in Kosovo was financed through a national fund for youth projects in Germany; the second meeting was financed through Erasmus+. The latter is really a grear opportunity for youth exchanges and my experience with the National Agency of Erasmus+ was very good. JEFers have to be aware that this means quite a lot of work when it comes to the application in the first place, and to the accounting at the end of the project. But it is worth it. For smaller projects I recommend to approach the secretariat in Brussels for microfunding. Private funders, local companies or public institutions can also happen to fund such projects if they are related to a local context.

Every JEF sections should be involved in a twinning! I recommend to first start with your neighbour country or a border city which is not too far to make a first experience. Our exchange was quite big and a lot of work and I realised afterwards that members first need some experience to organise such events, on a smaller scale. Twinnings can also be great to raise awareness about JEF in your local political environment - invite politicians and decision-makers to emphasize that we want a united Europe and that we have a lot to say.