If I could describe REPUBLIKA Conference in one sentence I would use: a melting pot of hyperactive digital natives that dare to envision (and act) different.
Last week (18-20 July) activists, artists, new media makers, academics and young people in general, interested in innovation for social change and that work towards decentralization in their own fields, came together inside a historical, rusty boat, in the coast of Croatia’s port city of Rijeka. They joined the event to address issues that matter for them, which affect our global society, where Internet plays a big role in a collective transformation.
My favourite part of the event was listening what young people from the Balkans had to say. Trying to understand their concerns, especially with transparency issues, their worries on corruption, as well as the existing “labels” constructed in the Balkans; and their willingness to do something for their countries, something that will help them grow– and not only build more walls between them.
University students from Croatia also told me that “apathy” was one of the biggest problems they found. People are used to impunity, it is more comfortable the way it is, as they decide not to act but only to criticize. Personally, it was very inspiring to see people from the region willing to understand their background once again and stop believing on the false stereotypes some of them were raised with, enthusiastic to rewrite their history.
Listening and being a part of this multicultural dialogue gave me hope, not only in the region, but also in youth in general. Once again I witnessed that in every society there is always a group of people that care, that are looking for creative ways to solve the problems they face, that they organize and dare not only to dream but to act, since they have seen that change is always sweet, prosperous and most important, that change is possible.
Text and Images: Andrea Arzaba, July 2013.