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Young people should have the key role in the creation of stability, peace, dialogue, tolerance and good neighbouring relations. That belief is deeply included in the core of OPENS; what is more, that is the fourth pillar at which we stand – Different young people in different societies. And, the festivals in the region can be a great beginning of that. Therefore, that is how our year began – with festivals. After Jahorina, the same team, in all OPENS colours, hit the road once again. This time, towards the seaside, to Umag and the Sea Star.

“OPENS Zone was at the best possible location at the Festival, between Addiko Tesla Stage and Nautilius Arena, the busiest part of the festival. The visitors had the opportunity to take photos or make a GIF, and to choose to print or send them to themselves via e-mail. They also had the opportunity to create their own post cards and to send them to their friends from Umag. Apart from that, they had the opportunity to lie back in lazy bags and to get some rest”, Nina Latinović, OPENS Event Coordinator says.

Ten thousand music pilgrims passed through the festival gates during the four days, having fun at 16 festival zones, seven of which were the platforms full of dance music and fans ready for the first large outdoor summer festival! And, at the heart of the festival, there was OPENS Zone.

“People were mostly coming, asking who we were, what we were doing. Our task was to tell the story about who we are and why we are, we explained that Novi Sad is the European Youth Capital next year. Those coming from Serbia mostly already knew, unlike young people from Croatia, but the feedback was always positive. Most of them have great experience or have heard nice things about Novi Sad and would return here or visit us, and we invited them all, of course”, Dejana Todorović, OPENS volunteer says.

“Many of them visit Novi Sad often, but they did not know what OPENS is and when we explained that to them, they were interested in all the programs we have and where they can get more information about that, as well as whether we are on social networks. Our stand and material attracted them, since they mostly liked the design, they also liked the stickers, not to mention the rest of the material – backpacks, T-shirts, bandanas… They were mostly crazy about the “Gari, take me to Novi Sad”, maybe because gari means something else for them, so it was interesting to explain that”, Kristina Nestorović, another OPENS volunteer says.

The visitors arrived at Umag from more than 40 countries of the world, both from the whole region and almost all EU countries, and from remote destinations such as Argentina, Columbia, Chile, but also Russia, Finland and China! More than 70 performers provided the spectacular program of this year’s festival, and the most popular headliners did not manage to resist the magic of the Istria coast, so the stars such as the guys from Hurts and Filatov & Karas happily greeted the fans from their Instagram profiles and shared the impressions with them, comparing themselves with the Baywatch TV show and praising beautiful Umag.

“Partnership with Exit, as well as the presence at the festivals in the region is extremely important for OPENS, since that the mission of Exit is to connect people through its festivals. Next year, Novi Sad will be the centre of young people in Europe, and we want our friends from the region to invite to join the programs, to talk about the topics significant for young people, about the genuine values, about what connects us, about peace, love, freedom, we want to meet each other, to hang out and to actually see that we are much more similar than different, but that, at the same time, we respect difference”, Valentina Antić, OPENS International Cooperation Coordinator says.

“It is great to meet so many people from different places. It is even better that everyone likes OPENS. When I was telling them to hashtag and visit the page, many people immediately wanted to see what else OPENS offer. Many people said that they would visit us on Exit. Those who did not hear were surprised, and I thing they liked the whole OPENS, especially if they come and ask new questions or take photos and so on”, Đina Nedović, OPENS volunteer concludes.

Next year, Novi Sad will be a go-to place for all young people from the region. We expect more than half a million young people from whole Europe, who will be included in the OPENS program along with the young people from Novi Sad. Therefore, the festivals of EXIT family are important stations on the road. As a reminder, EXIT Foundation and OPENS 2019 invite civil society organisations from Novi Sad, Serbia and the whole region to mutually, from one place say: EXIT IS FREEDOM” within OPENS State of EXIT Zone.

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