Building Peace, One Lego at a Time
On the first day of 1st UN Kosovo Youth Assembly: “Advancing Youth, Peace and Security in Kosovo Toghether”, organized by UNMIK at Emerald Hotel Pristina on 28 and 29 June 2017, we became serious about playing around.
The Lego Serious Play workshop allowed over 20 participants to approach big and small challenges with a fresh outlook.
After an introduction, we asked the attendees to make an animal with their blocks. Attendees created Lego flamingos, camels and lizards as they dived into the innovative new workshop.
Afterward, we gave three different challenges that ranged from the personal to the universal to the future of peace. The final instruction was to tackle the challenge in three temporal points: 1. The current, 2. The possible and 3. The desirable.
One group built a superhero that solves all the problems facing youth and peace. The character symbolizes how difficult these challenges are, while showing that youth are hopeful and at least in the imagination, there are solutions for all the problems.
A skyscraper developed by another group showcased the difficulty that Kosovar youth contend with when reaching for the top. They explained that the structure meant the bar is both set too high and that there is a lack of an institutional support system to assist youth.
Our next Lego art installation was a set of doors arranged in a circle. After opening one and closing the other, the piece creates a feeling of going ahead without realizing the big picture, that a young person might just be moving in circles. However, it was acceptable to move in zig-zag direction through the doors or preferably in the straight line, as long as are all moving ahead claimed the group. They believed that these challenges could be overcome with novel ideas and fresh energy.
Likewise, the attendees also presented a Lego scene that symbolized a classroom that hindered learning. According to the group, improper, insufficient quality of education, and an underfunded education system is a danger for the future of peace and for the youth in general.
The next group depicted feelings of isolation with a locked room that symbolized Kosovo. A youngster lived inside the room, hoping to see the outside world. After the group explained the youth’s predicament, a person from another group came and opened the door to the joy and applause of all workshop participants.
The need to overcome personal and social barriers were illustrated with a massive Lego barrier that represented the obstacles between a youth and their goals. With these play bricks, it was easy to pull back these obstacles and achieve our goal.
Finally, the last group presented a complicated and impersonal schoolhouse that did not cater to its youth. The group’s work showed the potential of youth — and the barriers that prevented from reaching their goals.
Simple tasks were given to seven different groups of 2-4 people on youth, peace, current issues, as well as likely or possible futures produced a diversity of presentations. It goes to show how youth issues just like all other social and political issues are interconnected. The topics of support system and complicated administration, as well as improvement of the existing quality of education are not just political priorities, but according to the presentations are connected to the topic of peace.
These colorful bricks, in all their playfulness, can yet help build a foundation for a stronger Kosovo.
Nick Pearce, Intern with UN Development Coordinator’s Office
Shpend Qamili, Outreach and Advocacy Officer with UNDCO