Category Archives: LEARN

Mentorship Program for Kosovar Students

There is so much potential that students who live in Kosovo have. There is a lot of talent that needs to be nurtured and guided. The lack of access to platforms where they can channel their potential and achieve personal development is a huge barrier to them. But why does this only remain rhetoric? Why are so few Kosovar students achieving their dreams and goals? After racking my brain for an answer, I realized that the root of the problem was not the students themselves, but rather the lack of opportunities that are presented to these students. 

Upon attending the sixth form in the United Kingdom, I have noticed a large amount of differences between the schemes and programs available to students in the UK and in Kosovo. In the UK, we have various career meetings, opportunities to talk to professionals about their careers, we get chances to visit workplaces that we might be interested in, and weekly exposure to various different challenges and schemes. However, I have recently become aware that a large majority of schools in Kosovo do not have these opportunities. Economic difficulties may prove to be barriers for such programs, however, I’ve started my own initiative to give students who are interested in STEM a chance to a virtual network with professionals for free.  

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) are such important career paths for the development of humans but also for the development of a fledgling country like Kosovo. These careers contribute towards the formation of a better society, for example, medicine helps medicate ill patients and technology improves the methods of living by making processes more efficient. After witnessing the lack of support for students in Kosovo to achieve a STEM career, I decided to take matters into my own hands, and create a mentoring opportunity for these students. Kosovar-Albanian students who have an interest in STEM have the opportunity to sign up for a mentoring scheme that partners any interested student with a professional or researcher from their field of choice. After the coordination of dates and times, the student and mentor will be able to participate in one-hour weekly Zoom calls, in which the mentor will be able to explain the pathways for entering their career, and any other relevant information that the student might need. The program is three weeks long and has begun on August 3rd, and any interested students can sign up by clicking the link and filling out the form. (https://forms.gle/Tg4yHrR813bugpsN9)  

I am very lucky to be a part of the Kosovo diaspora in the UK, because I am aware that I have opportunities here which youngsters in Kosovo most likely don’t have. Not only do I have the possibility to encourage positive change in Kosovo by voicing my opinions here in the UK and abroad, but I also have the chance to gain support from a wider variety of people here in the UK and promote awareness of a lack of opportunities for Kosovar students. I aim to use my power to create a positive environment in terms of career development for students in Kosovo because going into STEM requires students to have a lot of knowledge about the subject. Making informed decisions in terms of a career and commitments is also a key aspect to having a successful career, so I hope that this program provides these students with the right amount of knowledge, and to have any questions answered about their future. No student should be left without support, and this is what I hope to promote through the creation of this mentoring program. 

– 

My name is Ideja Bajra, and I am a 16-year-old currently living in the UK. Since the age of 7, I have aspired to become a scientist, and I wish to fulfill that dream by studying biochemistry at university, focusing on the importance of protein structure for the function of proteins in the human body.  

It has always been a particular passion of mine to encourage more youth into STEM, therefore, I have created a non-profit, ‘Based In Science’, that aims to encourage more of the youth in the UK and Kosovo into STEM-related careers. As part of the non-profit, I will be offering free activities, events, and opportunities to students interested in STEM who are from the UK and Kosovo. Aside from organizing a non-profit, I am a student at Drapers’ Academy Sixth Form in the UK, studying Biology, Chemistry, and Physics for A Levels.  

In my spare time, I enjoy reading and writing and am currently writing a book about the contribution of the 21st-century female biochemists to the field of biochemistry, and the major scientific developments that have occurred in the last 50 years. I also co-authored a featured article about BAME women in STEM for the Biochemist magazine, as well as having written a book review for the Biochemist. As the Ambassador for Biochemistry at the Young Scientists’ Journal, I regularly write articles and interviews for the journal, to promote a love for science and to encourage more people into biochemistry careers.

Ylfete Fanaj – The new President of the Council of the Canton of Luzern

The long list of the Albanian role models in Diaspora has added a new name…that of Ylfete Fanaj.

Even though she was born in the beautiful city of Prizren in 1982, when the social crisis started to grow in Kosovo, Ylfete and the rest of her family moved abroad to Switzerland, where her father was first working as a seasonal worker. She studied Social Sciences at the University of Luzern, and immediately engaged as a social worker, relating mainly to issues regarding the youth, such as integration and addiction.

Her political career started in 2007 when she was first elected to the Lucerne city council on the Social Democratic Party (SP) list, and from 2011 she has been part of the Council of the Canton of Luzern. In 2019, she served as vice-president of the forementioned council until this June.

On 23rd of June 2020, she got elected as the President of the Council of the Canton of Luzern thus becoming the first-ever Albanian to be elected in such a prestigious position in the political scene. The inaugural ceremony was a really special one, which drew many plaudits from the outsiders. Former President of the council, Mr. Josef Wyss during his speech complimented Mrs. Fanaj before the ceremonial handover of the Presidency, and he also congratulated her on the new position.

The ceremony turned into a really sentimental one for Mrs. Fanaj, when two Swiss artists acoustically performed the song “Moj e bukura More” which is an old Arbëresh song that has been sung by Albanians since the medieval times.

Ylfete is added to the long list of powerful and inspiring Albanian women around the world who continue to set the standards for future generations and serve as excellent ambassadors of the Albanian community where they live.

Gazmend Freitag – Portraits of the Famous

Fascination and respect – portraits of the Famous by Gazmend Freitag

What motivates an artist to draw the portraits of historical and contemporary figures? Fascination and respect, is the opinion of the painter Gazmend Freitag, whose portfolio celebrates the successful, courageous, kind, creative and beautiful people of the world.  A special place in the heart and the ever expanding collection of the artist is reserved for those poets, fighters and philosophers, whose life and work is crucial to the identity and history of the Albanian people.

  1. Aleksandër Moisiu
  2. Ali Podrimja
  3. Bekim Fehmiu
  4. Behgjet Pacolli
  5. Çun Lajçi
  6. Dua Lipa
  7. Gjergj Kastrioti – Skënderbeu
  8. Havzi Nela
  9. Ibrahim Rugova
  10. Ibrahim Kodra
  11. Ismail Kadare
  12. Klara Buda
  13. Krist Maloki
  14. Lasgush Poradeci
  15. Martin Camaj
  16. Shën Tereza
  17. Nexhmije Pagarusha
  18.  Pjetër Bogdani
  19. Princesha shqiptare Fevzia Fuad
  20. Rita Ora
Alexander Moissi
Gazmend Freitag: Aleksander Moisiu, 2017
Ali Podrimja
Gazmend Freitag: Ali Podrimja, 2016
Bekim Fehmiu 1
Gazmend Freitag: Bekim Fehmiu, 2014
Behxhet Pacolli.jpg
Gazmend Freitag: Behgjet Pacolli, 2016
Çun Lajçi
Gazmend Freitag: Çun Lajçi, 2017
Dua Lipa
Gazmend Freitag: Dua Lipa, 2018
Skanderbeg
Gazmend Freitag: Gjergj Kastrioti – Skënderbeu, 2013
Havzi Nela
Gazmend Freitag: Havzi Nela, 2016
Ibrahim Rugova
Gazmend Freitag: Ibrahim Rugova, 2013
IK
Ibrahim Kodra by Gazmend Freitag, 2017
Ismail Kadare
Gazmend Freitag: Ismail Kadare, 2014
Klara Buda.jpg
Gazmend Freitag: Klara Buda, 2016
Krist Maloki
Gazmend Freitag: Krist Maloki, 2016
lasgush-poradeci
Gazmend Freitag: Lasgush Poradeci, 2016
Martin Camaji
Gazmend Freitag: Martin Camaj, 2015
Mutter Teresa
Gazmend Freitag: Shën Tereza, 2013
Nexhmije Pagarusha 1.jpg
Gazmend Freitag: Nexhmije Pagarusha, 2013
Pjetër Bogdani
Gazmend Freitag: Pjetër Bogdani, 2016
Princess Fawzia Fuad
Gazmend Freitag: Princesha shqiptare Fevzia Fuad, 2016
Rita Ora
Gazmend Freitag: Rita Ora, 2014

Original link here

In a corner building in East Village, New York City, the entire uppermost floor has been turned into a photography studio. It is the studio of the renowned Albanian-American photographer, Mr. Fadil Berisha. Surrounded by windows and an abundance of natural light, there’s a certain positive energy that you feel the moment you step foot inside. The walls are covered in giant photographs of Halle Berry, Tyra Banks, Emina Cunmulaj, etc., and countless awards, autographed photos, and souvenirs from people that have worked with Fadil over the years.

When I arrived at Fadil’s studio on a sunny Saturday afternoon, he was adding some final touches to one of his recent photoshoots. Once he finished editing, he suggested going to a pizza place around the corner where we could talk more about his life, and I gladly obliged. Over delicious Italian food, Fadil began his engaging storytelling about his early life and career.

Born in Kosovo to Albanian parents, Fadil Berisha moved to New York City with his family at the age of nine. His upbringing was similar to that of any average immigrant family. Every major decision, he recalls, revolved around personal finances. So, when he chose to major in men’s fashion design, his family was not particularly thrilled. He graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology, but the degree did very little to quench his thirst for art. Put simply, Fadil didn’t feel like he was in the right career path, yet.

Driven by the desire to be exposed to different forms of art, Fadil, along with his friend, Donna DeMari, a photographer he had met in New York, traveled to Italy. Fadil would spend hours styling and observing her photoshoots, secretly wishing he was the one taking the photos, until one day he finally asked her if he could borrow her camera for a session, and she agreed. “I set up the camera and the moment I heard the click, I found my power. The next day, I packed my bags and moved back to America,” says Fadil with enthusiasm and sheer joy in his face.

“As a kid, I loved faces, all faces, and I was genuinely curious about them.”

—Fadil tells me.

Being the first person in the family to pursue art, he struggled to convince his family members that it was the right thing to do. Fadil is kind, polite, and understanding when he talks about them. It’s almost a non-verbal acknowledgment of their struggles. Most beginnings are often hard and his was no different. He soon found himself at a dead end. Evicted from his apartment shortly after becoming a father, he was forced to return home to his parents where he drowned himself in work. At one point, Fadil was working three jobs that brought some financial stability and very little joy. He could have chosen to lead a more comfortable life, but that was not in his plans. Within six months, Fadil got himself a big studio and has not looked back ever since. “The best advice I ever got was that you can never run away from yourself.” And for Fadil, not attempting to run away from his true self did pay off.

Today, we all know Fadil Berisha as the Albanian-American photographer whose work has graced the pages of some the most prestigious magazines such as Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Nylon, etc. He’s photographed the likes of Roger Federer, Kendall Jenner, Placido Domingo, Carmen Dell’Orefice, Sharon Stone, Nick Jonas, Zendaya, Michael Bublé, Kris Jenner, etc. for clients including Rolex, Estée Lauder, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, Lexus, Peugeot, Bulgari, Miss Universe, Sherri Hill. His work has been featured on the major networks, such as MTV, NBC, CBS, CNN, E!, etc.

Among the sea of celebrities whose beauty Fadil has greatly captured, there are many Albanian stars. Bebe Rexha, Era Istrefi, Inva Mula, Xherdan Shaqiri, Robin Krasniqi, and Heidi Lushtaku, Ermonela Jaho, Eliza Dushku, Saimir Pirgu, Blerim Destani, Rame Lahaj, and Nik Xhelilaj are just some of them.

When you hear Fadil’s stories, you wouldn’t know that there was ever a time when Albanians were not part of his life, but such was the reality. At the beginning of his career, Fadil tried to distance himself from his fellow Albanians, in fear of being ridiculed for his career choices. However, that was a short-lived attempt. With a noticeable change in his tone, he recalls the day a couple of young students, refugees from Kosovo, showed up to his studio, unannounced. He refers to that day as the day that changed his life completely.

It was around 1997, Fadil does not remember the exact year, and the early signs of war in Kosovo had already started to show. These kids had heard about him and were seeking his help in raising awareness for the dire situation back home. They even brought along photos documenting the massacres that were happening back in Kosovo. Given that his work revolved solely around fashion and beauty, Fadil couldn’t fathom how he could possibly help them. “That night, I went home and told my Mom what had happened. We had a long chat where she shared emotional stories about her upbringing and she spoke to me about the importance of helping these kids out,” recalls Fadil. The next day, he got back to his studio and picked up the phone. “You have ruined my life,” Fadil told them. “I cannot eat, I cannot sleep, I had nightmares. I know I have to help you, but I don’t know how,” he continued. Despite the hopelessness, he vowed to help in any way he could.  

Around that time, along with Avni Mustafaj, Tracey Aron, Gary Kokalari, and Donika Bardha, Fadil co-founded the Kosovo Relief Fund, an organization that aimed to help families who had lost loved ones in the war. He recalls nightly meetings; frequent post- Broadway show visits from the famous Hollywood star, Vanessa Redgrave, who had expressed desire to help; and the way Albanians had come together for a greater cause. In his voice, I almost sense a little bit of nostalgia as he recounts countless interesting stories.  

Fadil goes on to explain how, together with other volunteers, he had planned to use the photos he had received and created an awareness campaign. They solicited help from Stan Dragoti, the Hollywood film director of Albanian origin. Having previously been deemed too graphic, they worked their magic and turned the massacre photos into a campaign. However, despite raising hundreds of thousands of dollars, they couldn’t quite cover the fees to run the campaign on a major newspaper. However, one of those days, a peaceful protest was organized in front of the White House in an attempt to draw attention to the Kosovo cause. It wasn’t much different from other protests, or so they thought. Nevertheless, the following day, Fadil woke up to see the photo on the New York Times. A man was holding the sign they had created and a reporter happened to take a photo of it. The photo ended up in the print version of the newspaper. Fadil believes it was the sign and the push they needed to continue the fight for a free Kosovo.

“I haven’t thought about this story in such a long time, I just got goosebumps talking about it,” said Fadil as we got up to leave the restaurant.

Back in his studio, I asked Fadil if he has any pictures or videos from the events he used to organize in his studio. They must be somewhere, he tells me, but who knows where they ended up when he moved studios. “I like to recall these moments without dwelling too much in the past. I don’t like focusing on the past because you can get stuck. Remember the past and look to the future,” he says to me.

His phone rings. A famous Albanian couple, friends of his, were stopping by. The number of Albanian artists, sportsmen, political figures, and ordinary people that come to his studio, even just for a chat, is astonishing. I have heard people refer to his studio as the unofficial Albanian Embassy. “It became a duty to me,” says Fadil about his willingness to help others. “I asked myself, ‘Why don’t I help my people?’ To give is gratifying!” Whereas, for Albanians, he has one important advice: “Albanians are great to other people, but not always kind to one another. We need to change that.”

Fadil Berisha has been the official photographer for Miss Universe since 2002. With his help and guidance, both Albania and Kosovo became successful Miss Universe participants. Then he points at the picture of Marigona Dragusha, the 2nd Runner Up in Miss Universe 2009. With a big smile on his face, he explains how everyone loved her, the same way they loved Zana Krasniqi the year before. “When Gona walked out on that stage, tears starting flooding. I was so happy but also so scared of her. People loved her and they compared her to Audry Hepburn. But I was afraid of a possible backlash from other countries who may have thought that I favored her. So, I had to keep a distance.”

Fadil began working with talent in Kosovo as soon as the war ended. He took it upon himself to showcase the Albanian beauty to the world. “I always asked myself, ‘How can I get a girl that will never otherwise get a chance?’” says Fadil. And those photos around his studio are proof that he gave the opportunity to those who indeed would not have another opportunity.

So, what draws Fadil to people? “Smile, eyes, a good heart, and soul,” the answer rolls off his tongue.

Fadil talks about his career and his beliefs with a passion you don’t often encounter. He believes that arts and sports are of crucial importance as they have the power to change people’s hearts and minds. He leads me around the studio as he points at different photographs hung on his walls, telling a story about each of them. When I asked him if he could single out a person who has made a significant impact in his life, he grabbed a framed picture of him with a gentleman and says, “Without a doubt, this guy. He’s the former owner of Rolex. In 2005, he gave me a lifetime contract and was a close friend till the day he died. That opened so many doors for me.”

From sitting at his desk to running to get a bowl of seeds from the kitchen for the birds on the fire escape, Fadil Berisha never stops moving and never stops talking.

A couple of hours had passed and I did not once sense any regrets in his voice, which got me curious. So, I decided to ask him: Does Fadil Berisha have any regrets? He is human, after all. “Not taking pictures of Mother Teresa. I will always regret that” he says pensively. “You know, she was in New York City in 1997 with Princess Diana, and I could have taken pictures of her then, but my plan was to go to India and capture her and the environment in which she worked, so I put it off. She died before I got the chance to do it and it will always be something that I wish I had done,” says Fadil. I could easily sense the disappointment and sadness in his voice as he finished saying those words. It almost made me regret asking the question in the first place.

In recent years, Fadil Berisha has been doing a lot of self-reflection. Nowadays, he enjoys a day off, long walks, and meaningful chats over coffee with friends and family. Whether it’s about his siblings, his mother’s flowers, or his grandson, there’s an overwhelming sense of adoration in the way in which he talks about his family. Spiritually, he does believe in higher powers, in God. But there is one thing he has no doubt about: “We are all energy. Our souls never die, only our bodies do,” he tells me. The energy of New York City is what he claims has kept him there for so long. The crystals scattered around his studio are a testament to this.

And although there are plenty of reasons to be discouraged by people, it doesn’t seem like he’s going to let that happen anytime soon. “Whenever I’m ready to give up, whenever people disappoint me, there’s always someone that comes along that shows genuine appreciation and makes everything worth it.”

The doorbell rings. His guests are here and he greets them with the same smile and hugs that he greets everyone, ready to dive into another deep but lively conversation.

Summer Camps in BONEVET are joining the Diaspora in one place

Diaspora, Summer Camps in BONEVET are waiting for you!

After months of work and engagement, holidays spent back home are fun when children are part of Summer Camps at BONEVET.

These camps allow you to create new companionship in your homeland and learn Albanian, explore and create the games you like.

BONEVET welcomes children from Diaspora in three centers in Kosovo;

BONEVET Gjakova, BONEVET Prishtina and BONEVET Kaçanik.

Starting from July 1 to August 30, all children between the ages of 7 and 15 will have the opportunity to become part of our camps.

The camps that are being organized this summer are;

  • Imagine, Create & Play 1 – 5 July 
  • How do I work? 8 – 12 July 
  • Mission in Space 15 – 19 July 
  • ART on the map 22 – 26 July 
  • The Little Scientists 29 – 2 August 
  • Artists Week 5 – 9 August
  • Outside the Box, From the Box 13 – 17 August 
  • Creators Re-Create 19 – 23 August 
  • Academy “Children Spy” 26 – 30 August


For more information about Summer Camps please click HERE.

REGISTER NOW!

Hana Noka Introduces the Story of Queen Teuta of Illyria with Novel “Besa Po”

Los Angeles, February 4, 2019 – International model, actress, media personality and filmmaker Hana Noka will unveil the story of Queen Teuta of Illyria with the launch of the historical fictional novel “Besa Po,” inspired by the true story of love, loss, betrayal, victory and defeat. Queen Teutawas not only a famous Warrior Queen that lived almost two hundred years before Cleopatra, but her love for King Agron was one of the most legendary love stories in history. She was one of the first women to rise to power in the male dominated kingdom and society.

“I feel honored to be the first person to bring the true story of such a powerful woman to English language audiences,” comments Noka. “As an admirer of strong women in history, I was drawn to the stories of the ancient Illyrian women. I felt compelled to tell the story of the great leader Queen Teuta who ruled Illyria, which encompassed the modern day nations of the Balkans from 231 BC to 227 BC. It is my hope that the story of Queen Teuta will inspire women around the world just as it has inspired me. I eventually look forward to adapting the story of Queen Teuta to the big screen.

The Kosovan-Albanian beauty premiered her short film, titled “HANA” at the 9th annual La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival in July 2018. The film received three nominations, including Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Music. Directed by Luey Nohut, “HANA” was inspired by a simple quote from former longtime creative director Alber Elbaz of fashion house Lanvin, “Style is something reflected from our soul to the outside world – an emotion.” Along with her husband Shkumbin, Noka served as executive producer on the film. 

Noka stars in the soon to be released film “The General,” starring Goran Višnjić  and Armand Assante, and will begin shooting on  “Criminal Act” by MPH Films in London this spring. She is represented by MMG and AC Talent and is a brand ambassador for Heinemann Duty Free in Europe.

Hana started her career in modeling and acting at a young age. Despite her busy life as a child model and actress, Hana always took her education seriously. She graduated from Griffith College Dublin, in Ireland with an honors BA in Journalism and Visual Media. Born in Istanbul, Turkey as the only child to Albanian parents, Noka grew up in various countries before settling in Los Angeles. 

“Besa Po” is available now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Official branded merchandise is also available on www.yuzzl.com. 

Noka will appear at launch events in New York and Beverly Hills during the month of February, and will be the feature cover story for the latest issue of Marie Westwood magazine.

Follow Hana Noka on social media:
https://www.instagram.com/hannanoka/
facebook & twitter: hannanoka
www.hannanoka.com

www.besapo.com

Photos Courtesy of Hana Noka.

Returning home to develop a vision and mission through MIK (Made in Kosovo)

For Valon Asani– born in Switzerland to Albanian parents – summer was the only time he could get to know and connect with Kosovo. The little time he spent there was enough to convince him to pursue a career in Kosovo. Valon graduated from the Technical Business School Zurich.  During his studies, he started creating his websites and became interested in web development. After graduation, in 2011, he moved to Kosovo and started his initiative of promoting Kosovo in Switzerland by using the outsourcing-model and hiring people from Prishtina through his web and creative agency – based in Kosovo but serving clients in Switzerland. His decision to come back came as a result of growing up with parents who were always nostalgic about living in Kosovo and talked about Kosovo and its culture in daily bases. Valon claims he always felt connected to Kosovo.

https://www.mikgroup.ch/
MIK’s working environment in Prishtina Offices

In the last seven years, Valon has been testing himself in many fields and that has allowed him to get a broader knowledge in different industries such as IT Outsourcing, Call Center services, the production line of pellets in Kosovo, and he even bought a dental clinic with 10 employees in Prishtina. In addition, he has managed small projects like the dating app “Albanian Friends” which won the first place in Get in the Ring in Kosovo. He currently leads mikgroup.– a digital marketing agency with its focus in lead generation and ROI. MIK which stands for Made in Kosovo, and means ‘friend’ in Albanian is more than business. As an outsourcing destination, MIK is an amazing promotional company for Kosovo.

MIK Group is a digital marketing agency with a focus on Performance & ROI. They offer SEO, Google Ads, Social PPC & influencer marketing. They are Google Partner and are certified by Google, Facebook, and different Digital Marketing Institutes. MIK’s headquarters are at the Zurich Airport and their fulfillment team is based in Prishtina. In addition, they have a small team in Berlin for Influencer Marketing. MIK Group today is the digital partner for many national and international customers. They’ve worked for companies such as Philips, Beiersdorf, Hunkemöller, Novartis and BMW. Valon mainly works on creating a strategy and products he makes sure to be the latest marketing trends because that is key to bring ROI to their customers. Moreover, mentoring and developing his team members is a priority for the leader of MIK. “I’m inspired by the idea that one person can benefit the lives of a large number of people if they have the will to do so, ” notes Valon.

Dream Team

When asked how he manages to stay organized Valon says that what he usually tries to do is: “Keep it simple. Develop routines, implement systems. Have a place for everything, and put everything in its place.” Valon is an individual who takes control of his routine and focuses on top revenue-generating priorities rather than spending time with reactive actions such as emails, phone calls, and other interruptions. “I continually set goals which serve that to serve me as a roadmap and without them, you lose focus on where you’re going and you end up running in circles getting nowhere.”

“I continually set goals which serve that to serve me as a roadmap and without them, you lose focus on where you’re going and you end up running in circles getting nowhere.”

Seeing MIK’s clients succeed and managing a business that is growing and provides for the team is amongst the achievements of MIK what makes Valon proud of the work they are doing. A hallmark for their business is the collaboration they have with three multi-billion dollar companies Philips, BMW, and Beiersdorf. Valon highlights also their partnership with Google Partners which made MIK the first and only agency in Kosovo to achieve that. An additional milestone for MIK is the development of a team and company certified by Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, the Digital Marketing Institute and other well-known organizations.

However, doing business in Kosovo comes with many challenges. Lack of professionalism in public institutions, customs procedures, low purchasing power obtaining loans, high-interest rates, and a shortage of higher qualified staff are problems Valon faces every day. Coming from Switzerland, Kosovo was obviously a difficult environment to navigate. Overtime, Valon has learned how to be more solution-oriented in order to avoid mental breakdowns every time he lacks the Swiss infrastructure he’s used to having. Valon tells us about some of the obstacles he keeps encounters and fights, sometimes even within his own team. “I have mixed feelings and thoughts when it comes to the business environment in Kosovo. On one side we have some small business hubs making positive impacts and we have a lot of skilled young people most of who are bilingual. On the other side, unfortunately, we have no quality, no love for details and for doing the right things the right way.”

“I have mixed feelings and thoughts when it comes to the business environment in Kosovo. On one side we have some small business hubs making positive impacts and we have a lot of skilled young people most of who are bilingual. On the other side, unfortunately, we have no quality, no love for details and for doing the right things the right way.”

As a well-established entrepreneur, Valon is a fond believer that businesses in the diaspora and the ones in Kosovo should cooperate more, exchange knowledge, skills, and ideas in order to improve the image of Kosovo. For Valon, every Kosovar living abroad is an ambassador who can promote Kosovo as an outsourcing destination for IT-services, digital marketing, engineering, architecture, customer center services, and many other services.

“I think the best way to help the people in Kosovo is to help the economy. And to do that for me it is to talk about Kosovo whenever I get the chance to do so. With our customers, partners, family, and friends. This way I was able to motivate also other entrepreneurs to come to Kosovo and create businesses and jobs opportunities. Promoting Kosovo as an outsourcing destination is one of my missions and my way of making a long-term impact.”


Sokol Malushaga - Albanian Architectural Talent in New York

Sokol Malushaga – Albanian Architectural Talent in New York

Text & Photography by Ilir Rizaj 

The new wave of talented architects of Albanian origin, living and working in Western countries, is expanding each day. This is not a surprising trend, if we consider that the most influential architects in the Ottoman Empire were of Albanian ancestry, with Mimar Sinan at the helm. More latter-day examples in the 1800s Europe are Karl von Ghega, the most prominent of Austrian railway engineers and architects, and Luigi Giura, an Italian engineer and architect who built the first suspension bridge in continental Europe.

Architect Sokol Malushaga lives and works in New York, and in partnership with Eduard Malushi, owns Ari Group, an architectural-construction company specializing in ultra-luxurious projects in Manhattan.

Sokol Malushaga - Albanian Architectural Talent in New York

Sokol has studied architecture at Cooper Union, one of the most respected schools in the world. His Thesis project (1997) was selected to take part in Archive and Artifact – The Virtual and The Physical, an exhibition that celebrates the school’s pedagogy, by presenting projects completed at the school over the past 50 years.

Curated from vast materials in the school’s archive, the exhibition includes 35 chosen Thesis that includes physical hand drawings, born-digital drawings, and models. Sokol’s work conceives its inspiration from the concept of the wall and the brick and is presented among the projects by graduates of the school who have become prominent architects and educators, including Stan Allen, Peggy Dreamer, Elizabeth Diller, Diane Lewis, and Daniel Libeskind, among others.

Sokol Malushaga - Albanian Architectural Talent in New York

According to Sokol, his project is “a study that began as an exploration of boundary/threshold conditions defined by the presence of walls and their continuous rebuilding: the boundary of a room, house, street, and city was always defined by the wall…walls are alive, they have roots…in order for a new wall to be erected, a sacrifice is made”.

Sokol pays homage to his birthplace of Peja (Kosova) – known as a town of many artisans, one of them of brick makers – “the brick and the wall symbolize the dialogue between the old and the new, allowing for structures that are never finished”.

From the mason of the antiquity to the modern day designer, from Mimar to Karl to Sokol, the talent of the Albanian architect continues to enrich the world heritage.