Monday, August 18, 2008

Reflections from Diana Baker

When asked how my trip to Kosovo was, the words I always say are “amazing’ or “perfect” but that never actually begins to cover it. There are so many emotions and feelings when I think of Kosovo and our time there. Like the time when my roommate, Marina and I had to switch homes and we didn’t want to go because we loved Lum’s family, but we knew we had the chance to be with another family and bond with them. Or the time when Tom, Marina, and I sat together on the flight to Vienna and Tom went into our faces at 4 in the morning and said, “I’m bored.” Or the time when all the kids walked up the hill just to be together. The times when we all leaned on each other because we were sick, tired, sad, bored, or just plain cranky. Or the times when we were just having fun and forgot we were in a different country, away from our family, friends, and things that are familiar to us and we could just let it all go. That’s the real Kosovo and the one that I love for the people, the food, the culture, the friends and the way you look at things.

The people of Kosovo taught me many things but the most important are the things that I will always say and hopefully never change are that: “The impossible is merely possibly possible,” and, “Just because you have nothing doesn’t mean you have nothing.”

That’s Kosovo, or at least my Kosovo.

Reflections from Taylor Wettech

I couldn't wait to return to Kosovo. In many ways, I felt I'd been preparing for it ever since the 2005 trip. Prior to that trip I had been apathetic and unsure what I was getting myself into, only to be blown out of the water by the positivity and strength of the Kosovar people. On a trip that was meant to affect change for Kosovo, I felt like they truly had given me more than I ever gave to them. My experience in Kosovo began my goal of doing humanitarian work on a global scale as a career. And so this time around I planned to give my all.

Did I accomplish my goal? I like to think I did. Did I accomplish it in the way I expected to? Not in the least. I helped teach music, a far cry from saving lives or providing food. And I think my first thought was that, because I wasn't having a tangible impact, that my impact was nil. Think again, Taylor! As Kosovo rises from the ashes, it will need less and less monetary and medical aid. But all people, whether they are rich or poor, whether are from a stable or unstable background, living in America or abroad, can gain from teaching and friendship. After all, it was the teaching and friendship of my Kosovar brothers and sisters that inspired me to return to Kosovo.

Reflections from Jon Fasanelli-Cawelti

In a place where the classroom was a dirt patch near the ruins of war, at an isolated refugee camp, a child drew a picture of a bicycle. It was full of color and motion but also joy and life. Then he gave it away. Those two acts, creating and giving, offer hope that one can create in a sorry place. At this place the kids put their paper on the ground or knees, some lay on their bellies – who hasn’t done this as a kid?

Drawing is a human experience. I’ve almost never found a child who wouldn’t draw. At Slovene Village Kristin found a child who couldn’t hold a crayon. Was he deprived or physically or mentally challenged? Who knows, but his environment was utterly bleak and neglected.

I try to draw these kids who are drawing whatever they want, holding it tight to my little sketchbook as curious and grasping hands try to clutch it to see what I did while they sang or played ball or just hung out. Invariably they are excited to see themselves or their siblings or pals on paper no matter how spare my gestural efforts are.

There is just a little time, I must work fast, they won’t hold still and it is better that way. I like the line, their aquiline features surrounded by sharp peaks and valleys. From the many portraits here to the copper plate I will go looking for the sounds I saw that so many other people made.

Thanks for the chance.