Ebi Spahiju – Tirana
I started living in China when I was 15 years old and portions of my Albanian identity at that age were already entrenched. At the same time the Balkans has gone through war already, we experienced the war in Kosovo and Bosnia and other parts of Balkans, the tensions were really high.
The very first person I met from Serbia, I met in China, and that turned my identity upside down. Meeting other Balkan people that far, having so much more together with a person from Serbia, which you thought would never be possible because we were fighting. I started looking at people just like people. It gave me a new lens to look the world through. After China, I lived for 8 years in New York and 2 years in Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, and then I just decided to come back and see if there is a place for me in Tirana now. When I came back and started working for civil society organizations. It was mind blowing for me that there were people so collaborative and engaging and they have been exposed to the cultures.
I’ve been to Belgrade, Sarajevo, other parts, so many times and I’ve never felt tension. I came for six months and I have been here three and a half years now and I don’t plan on leaving. I’ve seen politicians trying to reignite some aggression, bad sentiments, the whole Belgrade Kosovo train, but you see people are not falling for that.