Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall

Born in an age of uncertainty, young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine and Georgia reflect on patriotism, freedom and opportunity.

Musya Qeburia and friends dance after a dinner party at one of their friend’s restaurants.
Musya works on a commissioned mural.
People walk past a mural by Musya.
Musya amid her paintings at home.

“We would all agree that we love our country. But we have different definitions of what that country should be”.

That cultural divide extends to gender, Musya explains: “culture says that women just need to have children, that their place is in the kitchen and bedroom. A lot of that comes from the church. They think that professional jobs and politics are only for men.”

Musya works at home in Tbilisi.
Darko Soković, second from left, and a group of young entrepreneurs chat at a cafe in downtown Sarajevo.
Darko Soković teaches a class on entrepreneurship and creative collaborations. “We’re the first generation looking at work differently, as something we can create, not just some job that is given to us,” says Darko.

“I’m proud of this country. But it’s not about being Serb or Bosnian, Croat or Yugoslavian any more. Our identities are much more individual.”

For most young people living in Bosnia and Herzegovina, freedom to innovate comes at a heavy price. Close to 47 percent are unemployed. Because of a lack of formal jobs and a mismatch between skills learned in school and the demands of an increasingly service-oriented economy, most graduates have trouble finding a job.

Darko socializes with a friend at a downtown bar.
Darko and Miladin at home as they watch Darko’s segment on the news.

“We’re the first generation looking at work as something we can create, as opposed to some job that is handed to us.”

For many young people, it’s not just about choices or opportunities, it’s also a new mindset about deserving and working for something you can be proud of. But this generation, left with a myriad of choices for themselves, are also having to contend with old networks, stereotypes and corruption.

Darko and Miladin take a walk through their neighbourhood.
Halyna Yanchenko, a newly elected Member of Ukraine’s Parliament speaks with journalists outside Kyiv’s Verkohvna Rada on the first day of parliament’s new session. At 32 Halyna is one of the new generation of MPs and part of newly-elected President Zelensky’s party Servant of the People, which won an overwhelming 251 of parliament’s 450 seats in the latest elections.
Members of the press take photos and video as members of Ukraine’s Parliament and other elected government officials convene Ukraine’s first session of parliament for the newly-elected administration.

“I feel a deep sense of obligation. we need to remember the people who gave their lives to bring us here.”

One of Ukraine’s youngest members of parliament and a civil society representative at the country’s highest anti-corruption authority, Halyna symbolizes that new wave. Like Darko and Miladin, she grew up in a new state grappling with economic reform. Like them, she says she is proud of her country but working hard to transform it for the better.

Halyna works through her schedule of daily meetings, tasks, and deadlines in her office. “We have so much work to do and in so little time,” she says from her office, “we have to work like crazy to show we’re different from the previous MPs and administration and also to plow through the bureaucracy and political games that still exist from the decades of soviet party rule.”
Halyna takes a moment to look at the photos of some of those who died during fighting in the east of Ukraine. “As I started as an MP I feel a deep sense of obligation,” says Halyna, “we need to remember the people who gave their lives to bring us here.”
Halyna plays with her son at their home in Kyiv, Ukraine. “Many kids think of emigrating from here and a lot of that is related to a state system that still isn’t built for them. Our state still has pieces made to help only a small, select group and young people don’t see a future of endless possibilities like they see in other places like Europe.”

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