Team Red in Novi Sad: challenges and opportunities to youth participation

#TeamRed back on track! After a looong journey from Eskişehir with a short stop in Sofia (special thanks to EoT 5 Ambassador Ivetta for hosting us!), and following a series of trains through the heart of the Balkans, the Ambassadors finally arrived to Novi Sad, the second biggest city in Serbia, where our lovely hosts from AEGEE-Novi Sad were already waiting for us. Historically Novi Sad has been part of the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and later on of Yugoslavia and today six languages are official there. This does not come as a surprise if we take into account that more than 20 nationalities and cultural communities live in harmony in the city.

However, that is but one of the aspects that make Novi Sad special: as many of you may already know, Novi Sad is the European Youth Capital 2019, a title granted by the European Youth Forum with the aim of empowering young people, boosting youth participation and strengthening the European identity. OPENS (Omladinska Prestonica Evrope Novi Sad / Novi Sad European Youth Capital in Serbian), a federation of associations of Novi Sad, was born as result of this title, and is behind the organisation of multiple events related to youth happening this year in the city.

In this sense, the experienced local volunteers of AEGEE-Novi Sad organised a one-day conference that went around the topic of youth participation, at a moment of such relevance as it is holding the title of capital of youth in Europe. In this conference we had the opportunity to deliver our workshop on youth participation to the local young people, and learnt about challenges, tendencies and forms of youth participation in Novi Sad. After our session OPENS held a presentation of their activities, and later on a responsible for Novi Sad European Capital of Culture 2021 (yes, the city will also hold that title!) delivered another workshop aiming at gathering the opinion of European citizens on the European project. Our last day in Novi Sad we delivered a workshop on languages in Europe in a high school, were students were specialising in the field of tourism.

Voices of Europe

The interviews conducted in Novi Sad brought forward several interesting insights on youth participation in Novi Sad. One of the points on which respondents agreed was the general political passivity of young people. Tamara expressed how one of the biggest challenges for youth in the city is to learn and to be ready to get out of their comfort zone. To prove her point, she quoted a Serbian saying that goes as: “we will leave the world to the youth”.

One of our interviews was conducted in the OPENS office, and our lucky interviewee was Mladen Ilić, Youth Activity Coordinator Assistant. From him we learnt that in Novi Sad exists a so-called Youth Forum, which encompasses all youth organisations in the city, acting in representation of all of them. When it comes to OPENS, Mladen explained us about its structure, and we discovered that it is currently dealing with a total of 46 projects oriented towards including and promoting youth activism in Novi Sad.

If you want to find more about youth participation in the Balkans, our next stop is Zagreb, so do not miss our next article!

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