Baltic Malady

I’m slowly drifting across my final weekend here. It feels like stasis, but it allows me the time to go out and do what I enjoy. Here are some pictures I’ve taken over the weekend in Pristina.

Youth selling potatoes in the center of traffic.
More potato sellers.
Crossing the road.
The system.

Second Eruope Trip!

Everything is wrapping up here in Prishtina. Its all going so fast. By this time next week I will be in Slavonia for a day visit. Today I have been planning out my week in Eruope That will start to when the Kosovo program ends.

I’v been booking hotels, flights, and train ride for the next week. My current plan is to fly to¬†Slavonia and then get a bus down to Croatia. After that not sure. My flight back home is out of Munich, so I need to be there on the 4th. Maybe I’ll go to Vienna for a day, still thinking about it. I really want to do this trip mostly because we made it to 5 out of the 7 republics that were part of Yugoslavia, why not go all the way and say you went to all of them?

Kosovo 2.0


Kosovo 2.0 is a really unique organization. I would call them a news organization, but they are certainly altering the definition of what a news organization can be. The way their website is organized provides space for long term projects, shorter news stories, outside blog posts, and more. They do a lot of “advocacy journalism” and work to create space for dialogues on major issues.

My first impression of Kosovo 2.0 was before we left for the trip. I was doing some research and found many of their stories on the recent election in Kosovo to be extremely helpful.

At the meeting with Cristina Mari (Program Manager) and Jack Butcher (Managing Editor), I became very interested in their work. I would honestly love to work at Kosovo 2.0, or another organization similar to it. I’m a huge fan of well-done advocacy journalism, although I think you have to be very very careful with it. However, our world as journalists is changing and I really admire that a group like Kosovo 2.0 is pushing the boundaries of what journalism can be.

Cristina talked a bit about how objectivity plays a role in their work. Obviously, this organization is pretty liberal. She said their goal is not to hide their biases but to make sure their reportage is comprehensive. They want to make sure they address all sides of a story or an argument, but they still acknowledge their own views. This way of looking at objectivity is intriguing. I would love to live in a world where journalism could function under this definition of objectivity. Unfortunately, I am not sure if this is possible right now, especially in the US. TALK MORE ABOUT THIS IDEA

Unfortunately, I am not sure if this is possible right now, especially in the US. Many people in the US will only read one news source, and they often choose the one that aligns most with their views. I do not mean to generalize. There are plenty of us who look at multiple news outlets daily, but there are too many that do not. I am hopeful that in the future, an organization like Kosovo 2.0 will be able to function and thrive in the US.

The one thing that was really difficult to deal with during the meeting at Kosovo 2.0 was their lack of emphasis on photography. They do have a visuals team, which is a great start, but they also use photos taken by their writers with smartphones. Yes, everyone has a camera now, but not everyone is a photographer. It is important that we as photojournalists continue to work to show the value of our work. The journalism world is changing and we do have to adapt to that. Everyone has to pick up new skills in order to have a career. However, this does not mean the skills of others in the journalism world should be discounted. Photographers have to learn to write and to work with audio, video, and more, but writers, videographers, editors, and others are still important. Photojournalists cannot be replaced with iPhones if news organizations expect to see the same level of work produced. That being said, I do really appreciate that Kosovo 2.0 even has its own visuals team.


Time Flys/ Greece Aftermath

We are now half a week into our second to last week in Kosovo. How the hell did it all go by so fast? When planning for this trip I thought in the back of my mind “It will start to drag a bit by the half way point”. We have now gone past that point and now all I’m thinking about is how fast this all happened.

On the other hand, we got back from Greece a few days ago. It was an awesome time. We chilled at the beach and hike Mt Olympus. We made some pretty good distance, unfortunately we didn’t have time to make it to the top. Greece was defiantly a trip and I look forward to whenever I can go back.

Pressures on Peacekeeping Operations

Mike’s seminar on July 11 touched on a lot of important topics relating to personal sacrifices and mental health when working on Peace Keeping operations. Being gone a lot and being dedicated to your job can have negative effects on your personal life and distance you from family and friends. During peacekeeping operations, people often see horrific tragedies (200-300 children dying per day in Northern Iraq during Operation Provide Comfort). When these people go home, they often do not have access to the support networks and mental health services they need. Family and friends cannot relate and therefore seem unable to help or even disinterested. There is such a stigma around seeking psychological support services that many people returning from these situations feel ashamed to ask for help or fear consequences for the future of their careers. Mike has worked to make sure others do not have to deal with these issues.

In Meredith’s seminar on July 13, she said that members of the military, humanitarian aid workers, and photojournalists that work in conflict areas all have some similarities. I agree with this, although not completely. I definitely agree that many of these people are ‘adrenaline junkies.’ I also think that many of these people have a strong desire to help others. In addition, all of these people have to see some very tough things in their lives and have to find ways to deal with them.

The lesson that can be drawn from both of these seminars is that it is important to know what your intentions and motivations are before you do something like this, and more importantly, you have to be able to find the support you need when you return. This support can be from a mental health professional, or maybe even better, from someone who has dealt with the same things.

The Ideas Partnership

I have visited the Ideas Partnership twice now, on July 6th and July 8th, to get things set up for my final. On the initial visit, I met with Burhan, who was one of the Newborns subjects in order to make connections at the center. Burhan was able to introduce me to one of the managers and several volunteers. At this first meeting, I explained my project and my goals. I came out of this meeting feeling very optimistic as I found out about a “girls’ group” that takes place on Saturdays at the center. The girls are all from RAE communities and many of them are not enrolled in public schools.

For my second visit, I had planned on going to this Saturday program to photograph and also meet with some of the girls to try and find a subject. One of our Kosovar friends, Asllan, came with me to translate (THANK YOU). I had a few technical and logistical issues that prevented me from shooting a lot, but I accomplished my main goal: find subjects.

The program is split into two classrooms, one with younger girls and one with older girls. I spent time in both but chose to talk to the older girls more. Three of the girls, Mirjeta, Vlora, and Semra, were very eager to answer questions and had interesting things to share. I am especially interested in working with Semra, as she wants to be a teacher and has already started helping out with the younger kids at the Ideas Partnership.

Free Society

I have a strong recollection, a reclaiming of an understanding I once had of Free Society, what it meant to me, or what I perhaps desired it to mean. There is no purpose in detailing that particular misnomer here, or hereafter. What good is a qualifier of life and its defining motivators if one has no real tangible discernment of such? My travels here, my travels with the National Kosovo Ballet in particular have in their part helped supplant an image of Free Society, an image however in all of its inherent obfuscation. I know only of the universal want to ‘be’ in a place on ones own volition, to have decided for oneself that they have created the capacity therein for happiness in that particular place. To then, when these qualifiers fail, uproots oneself and go forth into the unknown extremities of the world, to seek the characteristics of place and ‘keep’ which may indeed satisfy them. That is then an intrinsic element of Free Society, placement and movement of will and person, to decide the tangible and intangible ‘what’ and ‘where’.

The dance company on the bus to Pravets, at sunset.
Teuta and a fellow dancer about to embark on stage.
Teuta on stage performing Juliet No Romeo.
A selection of the performance.
A border guard collecting passports and Kosovar visas.
Teuta looking through her Kosovar passport.