In the last two decades, adverse political and economic circumstances have prevented an overwhelming majority of youth in the Western Balkans from ever traveling abroad and seeing how much other countries have benefited from the European project. Isolated and confined to their own intellectual and cultural microcosms, many of these young citizens have developed a tendency to construct questionable or false assumptions about European ideas, values, and principles, and to be led by these views to doubt or reject potential reforms in their own countries. Following some efforts to challenge these assumptions, it became apparent that personally experiencing European realities and trends could significantly improve local youth support for greater regional, transnational, and transatlantic understanding, cooperation, and integration, as well as develop skills and competences to improve the versatility and ensure the employability of youth across the Western Balkans.
Since its inception in 2007, the Travel to Europe project has enabled over 1,800 students from the Western Balkans to travel and explore Europe firsthand. The project provides a unique opportunity for participants to experience the benefits of international cooperation and to serve as cultural representatives of their countries, improving the understanding and external image of the region. The project is implemented simultaneously in the six countries of the Western Balkans: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. The Travel to Europe project is made possible by the support of the Robert Bosch Stiftung Group and the Balkan Trust for Democracy, who selects and coordinates local partner organizations embedded in the community who can identify and select the best possible participants. Once participants are selected, partner organizations procure transportation passes and coordinate travel to Berlin for the opening event. From there, students travel throughout Europe for at least the next month, documenting their travels throughout.
Current local partners:
- MJAFT Movement, Albania
- Youth Information Agency, Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR), Kosovo
- Citizen’s Association MOST, Macedonia
- Green Home, Montenegro
- European Movement, Serbia