- 20 March 2008
- 22 February 2008
- 16 December 2007
- Kreshnik Hoxha
"Independence due before May" are the words of Kosovo Unity Team spokesman that brings the hopes up for the Kosovo Albanians. However, these words give rise to an intimidating feeling for the Kosovo Serb minorities that have segregated themselves into enclaves for the past 8 years of the UN administration in Kosovo.
- 05 December 2007
By Salih Shala
Once again, a threat of war and occupation casts its shade over the Balkans. This time, it’s Serbia who’s on the offensive threatening to re-launch their war against Kosovo’s Albanian population which started back in early 1998.
- 13 May 2010
Born to Kosovar parents in Peja, the 2nd largest city in Kosovo, Jeta left the country in 2005 at the age of 17 after receiving an acceptance letter and a full scholarship to the Southwestern Academy in Arizona, United States. After graduating from high school, Jeta got accepted to Trent University near Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where she is now joint-majoring in International Political Economy and Business Administration. Organizing the cultural show was not only a way to bring hundreds of people together to step over the cultural boundaries of the world but also a way for Jeta to still her constant urge to express herself.
Albanian diaspora communities can be found all over the country but most immigrants settled in the Montreal or Toronto area - Kitchener, Waterloo and Mississauga all cities near Toronto with a high percentage of Kosovar diaspora. A little more than 20 000 ethnic Albanians live in Canada. The number of people with Serbian descent in Canada is estimated to slightly more than 55 000, most of them arriving shortly after the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991, settling in the mid-western cities of Calgary, Edmonton and Alberta.
People in Canada in general seem to have difficulties to place Kosovo on the map. “Some have never heard about it, so they give me blank stares. Some others have heard about the war, so they try to ask me about it without really asking” Jeta says.
She clearly remembers the war. “I feel like everything in my life is divided into before and after the war. In my family, I had always been the responsible child and I was fully aware of what was going on despite my age. My Mom used to say; if anything happens to us, this is where the money is”. At the age of 10, Jeta and her family went to Albania as the tensions between the Serbs and the Albanians in Kosovo increased.
“We didn’t choose where to go – we just followed directions. Serbian soldiers went from door to door in Peja and asked us to leave. Some had to walk. Others got into buses and they let us drive. When we got back after being refugees in Albania, my family was happy. In a city where 80% of the houses had been burned down, our house had been spared”, Jeta says.
The decision to leave Kosovo was Jeta’s own decision. One of her cousins had gone to the United States two years earlier and Jeta didn’t feel like she fitted in in Kosovo. “I remember spending a lot of time with older cousins who read a lot and were involved in extracurricular activities. When friends of my own age went for coffee and talked about boys, I read, was involved as student president and lead the debate club at school”.
After 5 years abroad, Jeta is starting to feel torn between two worlds and the feeling of being alien everywhere grows stronger. While feeling like a Kosovar in Canada, at the same time she becomes a citizen of the world once she visits Kosovo. “I especially feel that I am losing my roots when I come home and I notice that I have almost nothing in common with people there. In Canada I feel more Albanian than in Kosovo due to the constant need of maintaining and showing who I am”.
Being abroad for a long time has made Jeta see Kosovo with new eyes. Kosovo’s development areas are all connected in one giant spider web. According to her, the young Kosovars would be so much more involved if only they had the opportunity. “I blame it on the non-stimulating education system and its two main problems: First, everyone talks about the huge young population but there are few or no efforts to make any changes and the investment in the education system is rather poor. Secondly, teachers and professors in Kosovo don’t emphasize enough the importance of critical thinking but cling to old teaching methods like learning things by heart”.
Is Kosovo partly a case of a bored population? Jeta mentions her theory of a victim syndrome and refers to a Brazilian theorist of critical pedagogy, Paulo Freire, and his publication “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” which basically states that the oppressed become oppressors as soon as they become liberated. “In school in Kosovo, young people are taught to follow and learn what they are told and not to think critically. When remembering the past they consider their experiences and oversee what others went and go through. It is directly connected to the victim syndrome. Kosovo will not be able to move on before it starts to think and assesses its own situation more critically” Jeta says.
Jeta clearly sees the connection between the Kosovo under Serbian regime control and the society in Kosovo today. “We, the Kosovars, are not used to objecting to those who have power. What we need now is social change – that way we can see what is wrong with our government and demand a change, which in turn will lead to another social change.” It is a circle, only the first step needs to be taken.
“I am critical because I love my country. I’ve seen different ways to do things and I truly believe that Kosovars have the potential to change their own lives. Change will not happen fast, it will take time but if there is a will, there is a way, and no one knows Kosovo’s problems better than its own people” Jeta declares.
Kosovo and what happened during the war is in her thoughts each day. “The war has influenced my life and I probably would have been a different person if I wouldn’t have experienced it.”
Jeta will continue her studies in Canada, hoping that she can contribute to Kosovo in some way in the future with the knowledge she now gathers within her double degree. “I want us to be judged for what we are now and not just for what we went through” she concludes.