When we started the first preparations for the first-ever Kosovo Innovation Camp – KIC (our locally re-branded Social Innovation Camp), there was general confusion about the whole event. A lot of questions were raised in my mind: how is it all going to happen? Who will participate? Can youth really manage to build concrete products within 48 hours?
But the biggest question was: how will we engage youth from outside Pristina?!
In order to cover the majority of cities in Kosovo and inspire youngsters to dare to design and prototype their unique, technology-based ideas for social good within a single weekend, we designed a series of events called “Mini Express Camp – tour de Kosovo!”. Hoping that a super condensed version of our upcoming Kosovo Innovation Camp packed into the space of just an hour or two would do the trick, I set off for the first destination – Gjakova. In the following days I met with dozens of youth in locations throughout Kosovo and shared our vision for the upcoming camp – listening to their ideas and answering their many questions. Before long, we had our first results!
Only a few days after our first “Mini Express Camp – tour de Kosovo!” event was held, our inbox began to buzz.
Midnight, April 1 2012, marked our official close of deadline. Very excited, I began going through the list of applications to count and review them. Guess how many applications we received? Nearly 30 applications were submitted for the first-ever Kosovo Innovation Camp! Considering that the first-ever Social Innovation Camp in the world attracted only roughly double that, we were obviously pretty excited. But the most beautiful surprise for the team was the diversity of applications and ideas coming from Kosovo’s youth.
A group of young environmentalists in Kacanik want to make their city more environmentally-friendly, while high-school students in Gjakova would like to use social media to report the lack of hygiene in high-school toilets. Others plan to report smoking in public spaces through Facebook. In Prishtina, a young student from the Faculty of Electrical and Computer Science plans to make a “Smart Home” control system, while another young interactive designer wants to produce a series of educational video games.
Last but not least, an important and exciting fact that emerged from the pool of applications is that this camp is definitely NOT going to be male-dominated. Many of our most competitive applications and ideas have been submitted by females form all over Kosovo.
So, for the moment, I will not reveal more ideas, and I will not write more sentences, because I believe that through the Kosovo Innovation Camp youngsters will have the opportunity to speak for themselves through their enthusiasm, ideas and the viable technology-based tools that they hack together in a few weeks time.
The time for them to transform these innovative ideas into reality is fast approaching and we have alot of work to do before then!
Ron Salaj, YAP! Social Media Consultant and KIC Coordinator