Music Connects exchange in Berlin
A blog by Mitrovica Rock School communications trainee Erjona Sylejmani
On July 4, nine young musicians from Mitrovica Rock School and Roma Rock School traveled to Berlin to form two super groups, work on original songs, and perform for a live audience. The bands were supported by teachers from the two Rock Schools, as well as by two students and a teacher from Fontys Rockacademie in the Netherlands.
The exchange was hosted by Clash! Exchange and Learning. Clash! is a German-Dutch organisation specialized in intercultural, international and educational exchanges. Clash’s! projects aim to broaden the horizons of participants and help develop a greater consciousness for diversity, inclusivity and political citizenship.
Besides the musical activities, the week included several tours of Berlin, focusing on the city’s groundbreaking role in European music and film culture, its history of war and division, and its efforts to reconcile with the past.
After our return to Mitrovica, I spoke with fellow Mitrovica Rock School students Marko (center left in photo above) and Gegë (third from left in photo above).
“I enjoyed every second of it. I liked the rehearsals and all the people who were involved were awesome,” said Marko, who plays guitar.
Gegë, who plays keys, added: “The people there were different from the people I was used to everyday. I had the chance to meet very nice people”.
Marko and Gegë agreed it was an unforgettable experience. They were impressed by Clash’s historical tours and the places they visited in Berlin. The rehearsals were fun, especially because of the click with their band members and with the Rockacademie students.
As for me, my time in Berlin was an experience I will never forget. The Fontys Rockacademie team reflected such positive energy and really helped make the rehearsals amazing. I got to share the things I had worked on before and learn new things from others. I felt free to express my thoughts. I sang whenever I wanted to and everyone was okay with it. In fact, we had an acoustic jam where everyone just joined in. It was peaceful and beautiful.
To learn about each other’s cultures, Clash! facilitated a fun activity where we said our name and mimed our hobbies, and others had to copy what you just did and repeat your name. We also introduced ourselves in our own languages and had everyone repeat it, which for me was a very warm feeling to see everyone so interested in getting to know me and my point of view on everything.
One of the best parts of the week was an assignment where we split up into groups and went to explore a neighborhood in Berlin. We had to ask people about music, visit a record store, try a new food, and record city sounds. It was a great way to meet new people and get a feeling for Berlin beyond the touristic attractions.
The place where we had the performance was a warm, welcoming place. I felt very relaxed and confident performing on stage because everyone was so supportive. The atmosphere was so good that, even after we were done with the performance, our group and the group hosting us jammed together.
“Something I have learned is definitely a couple of words of Deutsch,” said Gegë.
And I have learned that people don’t always need a solution – sometimes they just need comfort.