Interview with YEU Youth Worker of the Year 2019 - Milos Blagojevic
Youth Workers are exceptional examples of commitment and dedication, through this award, we would like to honour your work and the story that each one of you tries to transmit. The main role of youth work is to create a safe environment and opportunities for the active participation of young people. In this way, youth work provides learning spaces through programmes that are needs–centred and have a social‐constructivist approach.
These different processes give young people the opportunity to gain competences, skills, experiences and knowledge that could be important for the success in life. The youth worker plays an important role in giving and providing support and assists in the personal, social and educational development of young people in order to help them to be better prepared to face challenges in life and become active citizens in society.YEU decided to name this award after our friend and leader of our Member Organization Institute of Ukrainian Studies Mykola Pekh who has passed away in 2014. Mykola gave a great contribution to YEU work. Youth work and a constant fight for the improvement of youth rights in Ukraine and Europe, in general, were his life and passion. Being a president of our Member Organization Institute of Ukrainian studies, he gave enormous contribution changing the everyday life of youth with disabilities, or as we call it difabilities, by giving his personal example that everything is possible. Sharing his enthusiasm in making this world a better place for young people, we are sure that his legacy will live on through our continued work. All of us who knew him were privileged to work with him.
In 2019, our Member Organisation, Cerebra from Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina nominated their president, Milos Blagojevic for a YEU Youth Worker of the Year and YEU Governing Board decided that he will be the one!
We ask another Milos (Kovacevic) to tell us why did he nominate Milos Blagojevic for this award?
Milos Kovacevic: Miloš Blagojević is a true leader in his community. He is a friend, first of all, a guy from neighbourhood. Being involved in the youth sector in our country for over one decade he created a strong network of people, initiated numerous of local and regional actions, and in all of them was showing commitment and true passion about what he does and for who is he doing something – youth. Taking over CEREBRA (YEU Member Organization) as her GB President he formed a small team that started growing, developing some positive platforms and programs, local actions that were recognized. He created a network of trust, he started inspiring young people, motivating them, making together with them their first move and step towards youth work and activism. For whole this period for all of us in the team he was like an older brother that keeps sharing his experience, always trying to show us what a potential we all have and how close we are to make a change on our selves. His work in team was a main motive for us to suggest him for this award. Before he got it we knew that no matter what and no matter on the result of selection he is OUR youth worker of the year! With this announcing of Miloš Blagojević as YEU Youth worker of 2019 we just got proof that we were not wrong!
We also wanted to know what’s the secret of being such a dedicated youth worker so we asked Milos (Blagojevic) couple of questions.
1) Could you introduce yourself and describe your role and achievements in your organization?
My name is Milos Blagojevic, and I am running a youth organisation “Agency for development and cooperation CEREBRA” from Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina. I took over CEREBRA during the year of 2018 and gather a few enthusiastic young people willing to work with young people and do something, and above all to change something in our local community. Our organisation had a break of three years in its work, because of organizational nature and lack of human resources, and it was necessary to start from the beginning. Few of us started doing small local activities, like organizing small workshops and seminars on the topic of youth activism, organizing practices for high school students, volunteering activities and action, and not only that, but also we took part in other volunteering activities, being partners on some of local activities and projects, start sending our members and young people from our city, and not only from our city but from other places from Bosnia and Herzegovina where we had a partnership with local youth organisations, doing a lot of things regarding the motivation of young people to be active and took part in the youth sector. Results of this during 2019 was remarkable.
We got over 30 new activists and volunteers, we employed few young people, we got two big projects, we got the award for contribution for volunteering, and 10 of our members also got the award as the active volunteers, and now we are one of the most active organisation at the local level.All of previously mentioned wouldn`t be possible without cooperation with organisations from Western Balkan, being partners on Erasmus+ projects, and also taking participation on Erasmus+ events. We also owe many thanks to the YEU, for giving us support and opportunity for making us active and motivating our member to be more active. In 2019 we hosted the biggest event of YEU, its Convention, and for us, it was an amazing experience and a great honour. At the end of 2019, we launched the first-ever local youth info portal where young people can find all kind of information and resources necessary for their activism and development. Our members, our young people got great experiences, they got the opportunity to share knowledge among their colleagues and friends, in the schools and faculties, and they started doing youth work with other young people. This was our raising path from the ashes, after 3 years of inactivity. I am more than proud to be part of that.
2) What are the most challenging parts of being a youth worker?
Being a youth worker is a challenge by itself. There are so many parts which are challenging, and I would underline just a few of them. Keeping young people motivated, supporting them with your skills and helping them with what they need and want.The motivation of young people is crucial, one of our tasks as youth workers should be to motivate young people and support them during their journey, during their way to reach their full potential. We must support them with our skills to reach their goals, help them to be competitive and great part of our society and team that we are creating. These will lead to sustainability what is the most significant topic, for now, a days NGO. In the end, it is expected from us not to disappoint young people. This is the challenge as well.
3) Give a recent example of the personal contribution you have made to your organization through initiatives or projects you have implemented at a local level?
One of these examples is giving support and mentoring some of our members to become facilitators and trainers, so our organisation can effectively continue non-formal education for young people at the local level. Being a mentor to them and teaching them stuff and skills I have gained through my youth work, during my working with young people, for me is one of the crucial things and tasks of every youth worker. Non-formal education is one of the main fields of work of CEREBRA, and we are trying to give and offer as much we can to the young people, creating opportunities for them. So, my personal contribution to my organisation would be one-on-one work with our members and giving more than 100% of me.
4) Can you tell us about an aspect of a youth worker experience that you’ve enjoyed?
For me being a youth worker is a lifestyle. It is a call. It is devotion. Working with and for young people is part of my life I really like and really enjoy in. Especially one-on-one work with them. Supporting them on their path of becoming a youth worker. Working face to face with young people demands understanding and responsibility, enthusiasm, patience, positive view, and sometimes a good sense of humour. I really enjoy in creating learning opportunities for young people to develop their skills and increase their knowledge, building the capacity of young people for critical thinking and to widen their mind maps, enrich their mindset and widen their horizons.
5) What is the secret of being the best youth worker?
There is no secret. It is only work. And of course, passion, devotion, and love for what you do. There is a quote that if you do what you love, you won`t have to work a single day in your life. For someone, this is true, for someone not.“In fact, when you find a job that you are passionate about, you will work hard, but you will not mind what you are doing. You will do more than you ever thought possible, but the tool in your hands will be easy.” This is what Tim Cook said.
Interview done by: Agata Papotto, YEU Projects and Administrative Assistant