WESTERN BALKANS – As the year draws to its end, it is time to look back and reflect on our work done for and with youth in the region, as well as on future plans and efforts.
2020 brought many challenges and impacted our work greatly. The developments of the COVID-19 pandemic trembled established certainties in our societies, and for us, they required new perspectives to the way our actions are shaped and implemented. Among others, we shifted most of our initiatives and projects to the online sphere and continued working on our mission as motivated as ever.
When we look back at how we overcame difficulties, we realize that by being dedicated to our mission for a better region and by placing youth cooperation at the forefront we achieve meaningful and sustainable results. Despite the consequences of the pandemic, we looked for opportunities in crisis, made progress and explored new approaches to tackling all the obstacles posed to our plans.
Together with our partners, we worked to ensure that the Western Balkan youth remain connected and engaged by strengthening, supporting and empowering teachers, organizations, schools and young people in the region. RYCO is proud to witness their willingness and commitment to creating new bonds and friendships beyond borders and impossibilities of meeting one another even under given circumstances.
This challenging and unusual year proved to us, once again, that we are stronger only when we cooperate and work together. We concluded it by organizing a series of national annual events across the region aiming to present our achievements in 2020 and plans for the upcoming year.
In 2020, we also unveiled all our milestones and achievements in A Better Region Starts with YOUth publication, which we launched in cooperation with the University of Vienna, the Sigmund Freud University Vienna and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The publication presents our work since the RYCO establishment process, focusing on the influence that our youth exchanges have, and puts a spotlight on inspiring stories and messages from our partners, staff, colleagues, beneficiaries and youth.
What RYCO is planning to do in 2021 is to continue carrying out its mission by providing young people with more opportunities for empowerment through youth exchanges, mobility and regional volunteering.
The plans include the implementation of twelve projects supported within the fourth RYCO Open Call for Project Proposals, first volunteer exchanges and launching of the volunteer platform ROUTE WB6, supporting young social entrepreneurs within the RISE project, launching a new three-year RYCO school to school exchange program, launching a digital youth platform and numerous activities on the local levels implemented by the six RYCO Local Branch Offices.
Let us use this opportunity to thank all of you who were with us throughout 2020 – government institutions, youth organizations, schools, youth workers, international organizations, media, but most importantly, young people.
We eagerly wait to see how our work will bear its fruits in youth cooperation and regional reconciliation during the upcoming year, too. Till then, we wish you peace, health, prosperity, and a happy holiday season.
RYCO will move forward to new endeavors in 2021 as always for and with you(th).