Creative Leaders for Peace — By Nino Gabadze and Erion Krasniqi
Hello! We are Nino and Erion. We were participants of the project : Creative Leaders for Peace. Online training on leadership and innovation in peacebuilding (a training done by Youth Peace Ambassadors Network). We would like to share our experience and learning outcomes with some tips for the future participants and creative leaders.
Instead of a usual article, we came up with an idea of interviewing each other to make the process fun and enjoyable. Here we go!
Nino: — Hey, Erion! Let’s start with a small introduction: Who are you?
Erion: — My name is Erion Krasniqi. I am 22 years old, and I come from Priština. I am studying mechatronics, but I also love to work in peace building and reconciliation. What about you? Who are you?
Nino: — I am Nino Gabadze. Originally, I come from Tbilisi, Georgia — a country in the Caucasus region. Currently, I live in Poland. I like to see myself as a peace activist, raising awareness about conflicts, peace and human rights. I am trying to become a full-time trainer and mentor. What do you like to do?
Erion: — I also like nature! And also building things. That category includes building machines, friendships, communities… Basically, anything that you can create.
Nino: — When did you realize that you liked building?
Erion: — I have always felt that way. I’ve always liked to create things. What about you? What do you like?
Nino: — I like being in nature. Hiking and trekking are my hobbies. I practice different forms of art (analog photography, fine/collage arts and music) and I try to use them in peace-building. I love conducting independent research and diving deep into cultures to find an answer to the following question — how does a country’s history influence the mentality of its nation? I like studying nationalism and populism and the reasons for modern extremism. How did you find the training, and why did you apply for it?
Erion: — I was following the Youth Peace Ambassadors Network’s social media and the training was posted there. I applied, because I wanted to learn more about leadership, peace and engage in partnership building. These are important as I come from the conflict-area. How did you find it?
Nino: — I usually search for upcoming training sessions on a platform called SALTO. I found this project there too. I applied and got accepted. As for the “why” part — I was really interested in peace leadership and I thought it would help me to gain more knowledge, meet like-minded people and organize similar events myself. My expectations were met and even exceeded. What about your expectations? What were they and where they met?
Erion: — To be honest, I was not expecting to get so deep into the topic. I thought — maybe I will familiarize myself with the topic. I also thought that because the training was online, I would not be able to connect with the participants. But, it turned out that I was able to do it! The participants were really engaged and that made it possible.
Nino: — Did you face any challenges?
Erion: — Well, I thought that I would have a problem with connection or staying online / engaged all the time. What about you?
Nino: — I had a similar fear. I was also worried about not being able to connect with the participants via Zoom. But I felt encouraged to do online one-to-one meetups, game evenings or movie nights and I felt more connected. Did you have any “AHA!” moments? Or things that surprised you the most?
Erion: — Yes, actually several of them! I already told you that I learnt a lot from the trainers, but it came to my surprise that I got a chance to learn from the participants themselves! They worked in different fields and I had an opportunity to look at the issue from various points of view. I was also surprised to stay in touch with new friends I got during the training. Did you have any?
Nino: — I was really surprised with the engagement from the participants and using “offline” activities on an online platform! Also, I felt very connected with the trainers. They told me that they also had to go through the process I was going through, and it calmed me down, made me more task-oriented. I got even more confidence and felt that I was given a direction in my life. Another surprising moment was how observant the trainers were. I bet it was hard to notice everything (including body language, mood, attitudes…) while not being able to see the participant in person. But they did a great job, and it inspired me! What will you remember for a long time?
Erion: — I definitely will remember this as one of the best training I have ever been a part of! I loved reflection groups by the end of each day. (smiles) Also, how we could get connected with online movie nights!
Nino: — Absolutely! I also loved how supportive everyone was! When I came up with an idea of “online coffee meetups” — everyone got interested, and I remember them as fun parts of the project! And it definitely contributed to us getting closer, even when we haven’t met in person. And I completely share your thoughts about the reflection groups — when you put your learning outcomes and emotions into words, it has a different impact on you and your perception of a project. How did the training help you with the future projects?
Erion: — Well, it definitely gave me knowledge about how to create my own projects. Currently, I am working on building connections with people who also come from conflict-affected-areas. I am planning to organise similar training sessions with people coming from different conflict-affected-areas who can share their experience with each other. What about you?
Nino: — This training and generally other YPAN members helped me a lot. I felt constantly encouraged. Whenever I had some technical questions, they would answer. And just after a month I became an organizer of a training session — “Conflict, Peace and Peace Leaders”. So, yes, it helped a lot! (laughs). And finally — what would you tell future participants?
Erion: — I would encourage them to participate, even if they are not from this particular field. Like I said — I study mechatronics — which is not really connected with the peace and conflict topics. But as someone coming from the conflict-affected area — these topics are important for me. Sometimes it was a bit hard to understand certain topics because I did not have background knowledge. But eventually I got it and I think with time — everyone will. What is your advice?
Nino: — I would advise everyone to ask the questions! Did you not get something? Ask a question! Are you looking for a job or an internship? Ask the group about it! Network, network and network (smiles)! And of course — be engaged and active. I guess our interview is over!
Erion: — Thank you, Nino!
Nino : — I guess it is (laughs)! Thank you, Erion! And see you in the following projects and training sessions!
We wanted to thank you all for reading our interview! We have become YPAN members ourselves, and we hope to plan many activities together. If you have any questions, just drop a message :)
© Created for YPAN by Erion Krasniqi and Nino Gabadze — 2022
If you want to write to Nino or Erion, you can do it by writing to email@example.com