ctrp405 Fear and Rumors in Kosovo

“If my grandmother knows Kosovo is a country… everyone knows Kosovo is a country”  Flekitza repeats in an attempt to help me understand what is going on in the Serbian community of Kosovo.  In her home city in Kosovo, public school teachers get pay checks from the Serbian government, which are substantially larger the the salary Kosovo pays them.  A confusing situation that you’ll hear me get lost in several times as Flekitza explains how even her university diploma is now considered worthless, as jobs do not recognize what was then officially a Serbian University. The list of obstacles would be enough to make a person quit and run off to a country where things make more sense, but instead she is dedicated to making a life in Prishtina, together with her Albanian partner. A Serbian-Albanian-Kosovar love story that many people, including family, are not willing to accept.  “Who cares what people think.. I certainly don’t”…. in this podcast I spend time getting to know Flekitza’s story, her family, her problems as an ethnic Serbian of struggling Kosovo, and her love of radio.  An extra-ordinary individual living in some mind-boggling circumstances.

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ctrp404 The Youth of Kosovo

Victory Pose
Victory! – Photo by SWPrishtina on flickr

Gent Thaçi is a rare bird in Kosovo, even he would admit it.  At 17 years old he devotes most of his energy to making Kosovo a better place, specifically through the cause of Free Software.  He knows not everyone understands and he is interested in engaging people, regardless of age or ethnic background, about what may very well help them in the workplace and at home in the already difficult reality for this struggling nation.

While sitting in a corner of an Albanian tavern Gent and I recorded this discussion, as I asked not only about what life is like for teenagers and young adults in Kosovo but also about relations between ethnic groups.  We manage to touch on the past, present, and foreseeable future when it comes to work, family, and conflict resolution.  Even when  Gent doesn’t know the answer to my various questions, he doesn’t pretend to know, but reminds us of what surely becomes clear- he is open and listening to anyone with a good idea.

After listening, you can also follow Gent on Twitter

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ctrp403 Brain Gain and Starting Up in Kosovo

Photo by SWPrishtina

Çelik Nimani is well aware of the difficulties his young country faces.  He is also well aware of the tremendous creativity and potential that can be found here as well as throughout the international Kosovar diaspora.  His goal is to help unleash that potential with a resounding call for everyone to get involved, take initiative, and be the change the nation needs to see.  He’s not just a business man, he’s an ideas guy who enjoys being inspired just as much as he himself inspires.

In this podcast we get into how to reach people in Kosovo, to motivate them, to wake up those who are in a depression or feeling powerless. We discuss resources and what this nation has to offer the world.  You would think being able to choose your country on a form would be a given, but thats not the case in Kosovo – we discuss this issue.  From education to entrepreneurs, this program takes the series on Kosovo to the next level, to where the mainstream media rarely invests the time and energy, and where you can hear the details of this immense challenge from the people who are living them everyday.

çelik Nimani on twitter

His LinkedIn profile

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Distance in Your Mind

There are places where one can travel to in this world where you feel distant and an outsider.  Makes sense of course, you are an outsider.  But here in Prishtina, time and time again, people who I’ve never met before make me feel like I am their neighbor and they’ve been expecting to see me.  Perhaps it is the large number of foreigners who are here working as part of the development and security world. Or maybe it is simply that Kosovars are all over the world and sometimes, they return home for good.  Whatever the reason, you’ll rarely meet someone who  gets wide eyed if you mention New York or Paris, these cities are part of their vocabulary and in some cases, a familiar part of their lives.

It all makes for a strange and alluring atmosphere; wander into a café and one friend will introduce you to another. Before you know it, a conversation that transcends borders and the conventional small-talk erupts.  They will want to meet up again, as often is possible, they will make time for you, don’t worry. No topic seems off the table. Even those probably tired and repetitive visitor questions about the country and its significant list of problems. Its no problem here, we can talk about it, we can even talk about problems in a far away land, no country or context is too distant.

Surely it is an old song. I came to Kosovo and made some fantastic friends that I shall seek to see again and surely never forget . I’ve said that of so many countries I doubt anyone takes it seriously. But this is no polite travel note, this is a seasoned veteran traveller telling it like it is in his experience. The world may often forget about Kosovo these days, but here in Prishtina, Kosovo is very much a part of the great big world.

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