May 30, 2024
Belgrade Cultural Cooperation News/Events Prishtina Success Stories

Tanja Dimitrijevic: Bridging Divides: A Journey of Reconciliation through Podcasting

Tanja Dimitrijevic, from Niš, wears many hats – activist, podcaster, artist, content creator, coach, educator, and consultant. With extensive experience in communication and a recent focus on podcasting, Tanja embarked on a unique project titled “Good Morning from Kosovo*,” funded by the WBF Move Grants Scheme. This initiative took her from Nis to Prishtina and Prizren, where she conducted many interviews, enriching her already 100 episodes of podcast in Spotify FIND EPISODES HERE

In an exclusive interview for the Western Balkans Fund, Tanja shares her insights and experiences from the project, emphasizing the power of human connection in transcending differences. Despite logistical challenges and emotional encounters, Tanja’s commitment to promoting regional cooperation and dialogue remains unwavering. Through discussions covering a wide range of topics, from media and misinformation to minority rights and reconciliation efforts, Tanja witnessed the enduring trauma of conflict survivors while also finding inspiration in stories of resilience and collaboration.

Good morning Tanja. You are the author of the podcast Good Morning from Kosovo. What was your general experience with this project funded through our WBF Move Grants Scheme.

This project has become a springboard for my future endeavors in peace building and reconciliation. The knowledge and insights gained will fuel the development of new projects as I delve deeper into understanding Kosovo’s issues through additional research and potentially inviting guests onto my podcast. It also ignited a strong commitment to regional cooperation, particularly with Kosovo. Everyone I interviewed expressed a desire for increased collaboration and projects like this one. We are actively planning the next step – a round table discussion or conference – to explore new avenues for collaboration, advocate for minority rights, women’s rights, and media freedom, ultimately promoting inter-ethnic, inter-community, regional cooperation, and multiculturalism. Additionally, I’m exploring joint projects with a media outlet in Kosovo and my host organization.

Can you tell us more about what this project is about?

The core of this project lies in the power of human connection. I ventured deep into the heart of Kosovo, interviewing community leaders, activists, university professors, governmental officials, cultural workers and journalists. But it wasn’t just about the prominent voices; I also engaged in conversations with everyday citizens from all walks of life – Albanians, Serbs, Roma, Gorani, Turks, Bosniaks. Through these interactions, I witnessed firsthand the strength of connection that transcends differences.

The implementation of your project was postponed from autumn 2023 to February and March 2024. How was your experience in Kosovo?

Arriving in Prishtina and the Prizren Region, I was met with genuine warmth from all communities – Albanians, Serbs, Bosniaks, Gorani, Roma, and Turks. While some in Prishtina were initially surprised to hear me speak Serbian, everyone was friendly and helpful, offering directions and even calling me taxis. While I have visited Prishtina and its surrounding villages on numerous occasions, this was only my third trip to Prizren. This time, however, I had the opportunity to truly immerse myself in the town’s rich cultural heritage, spending more than just a day exploring its hidden gems. This experience has only strengthened my commitment to promoting reconciliation through projects like this one, which foster dialogue and understanding across ethnic and cultural divides.

Arriving in Prishtina and the Prizren Region, I was met with genuine warmth from all communities – Albanians, Serbs, Bosniaks, Gorani, Roma, and Turks. While some in Prishtina were initially surprised to hear me speak Serbian, everyone was friendly and helpful, offering directions and even calling me taxis.

Tanja Dimitrijevic

Can you tell us more about the interviews and the range of topics covered during your mobility?

I conducted interviews with university professors, journalists, activists, cultural workers, and government officials from various communities: Albanian, Serb, Roma, Gorani, Turk, and Bosniak. These conversations took place not just in towns but also in nearby villages. Notably, I met with Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Mr. Sylejman Moni Elshani, and Advisor to the Ministry of Education, Mr. Elvis Karadolami. Additionally, I spoke with representatives of three international organizations.

The range of topics covered was vast, including media, misinformation, journalist safety, hate speech, culture education, women’s rights, youth opportunities, minority rights, environmental concerns, economic development, the war’s legacy, reconciliation efforts, the political landscape, prejudice, and the impact of tensions between Serbia and Kosovo on inter-community collaboration.

You travelled a lot in Kosovo. Can you tell us a moment that truly marked you during this experience?

Traveling to different interview locations, especially in bad weather, presented logistical challenges. However, the most emotionally demanding aspect was witnessing the raw pain of interviewees. Discussions of the war, the Milosević regime, and similar harrowing experiences sometimes brought tears – theirs, mine, or both of ours. These moments underscored the enduring trauma felt by many who lived through the conflict. While sharing these painful memories was undoubtedly difficult, it may have served as a source of healing for both them and me.

How was it for you on a personal level to implement this project?

This venture pushed me beyond my comfort zone, allowing me to hone my journalism and podcasting skills in a completely new context. For the first time, I conducted on-site interviews with individuals from diverse communities, embraced video production, navigated a professional studio setting, and mastered unfamiliar equipment. These experiences significantly bolstered my video editing skills as well.

Professionally, the challenges of field journalism became acutely real during this project. This firsthand experience heightened my awareness of the media’s critical role in post-conflict societies. I witnessed firsthand how quality journalism serves as a cornerstone for peace-building and reconciliation efforts.

Finally, This project fostered valuable connections – I established new relationships and strengthened existing ones with activists, NGO members, journalists, and academics. Beyond the project’s core focus, I was inspired by positive examples of inter-ethnic cooperation. Furthermore, I gained a deeper appreciation for Kosovo’s rich cultural heritage, artistic scene, and literary traditions. The entire experience broadened my perspective and provided invaluable insights into local and regional challenges.

Professionally, the challenges of field journalism became acutely real during this project. This firsthand experience heightened my awareness of the media’s critical role in post-conflict societies. I witnessed firsthand how quality journalism serves as a cornerstone for peace-building and reconciliation efforts.

Tanja Dimitrijevic

Thank you for the extensive interview and for believing in WBF mission of reconciliation and extensive cooperation in the Region.

Thank you for your support and for trying hard to shape a better future for the Western Balkans Region.

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ opinion on Kosovo Declaration of Independence.