Monthly Archives: January 2013

Arlinda Rrustemi and her unique opportunity to contribute to the international legal studies

Based at the at the Leiden University, Arlinda Rrustemi is studying international law, working with the former NATO Secretary General, and bringing local perspectives on statebuilding in Kosovo.

Arlinda Rrustemi was born in Prishtinë (1988), Kosova’s capital city. She currently resides in the Netherlands. Arlinda is a lecturer and researcher at the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies, of Leiden University. Furthermore, she is a research assistant to Professor Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (the former NATO Secretary General) at the same university. There, she is involved in courses taught at the Advanced LL.M. Programme, in Public International Law, and at Leiden University College as well. Arlinda holds a B.A. degree (cum laude) in Law and International Relations, from the Roosevelt Academy in Utrecht, and obtained an LL.M. degree in Public International Law from Utrecht University. Her thesis was entitled: “Accountability of International Organizations and Remedial Actions in the Republic of Kosovo”.

Arlinda is momentarily pursuing a doctoral degree, in the interdisciplinary research of law and politics called “State-Building through Life Stories: Incorporating Local Perspectives”, as supported by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). In ther PhD project, Arlinda is seeking to enhance the understanding of international state building and its relation to the politics of capacity building and the local ownership, which are frequently characterized as the only concept merging national governments and international organizations in handling post conflict situations. In 2012, Arlinda was awarded, the prestigious NWO ‘Mosaic subsidy’. Award winners receive 200.000 Euro, to carry out Ph.D. research over a period of four years.

Arlinda has already acquired extensive working experience, at this early stage of her life, in a variety of fields. She has, inter alia, worked as a assistant at the Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR) in Kosova; as a legal intern, at the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY, in The Hague), and as external relations intern, at the International Criminal Court (ICC, in The Hague). Her list of internships also include: legal intern, at the Kosovo Supreme Court; legal/international affairs intern, at the Kosovar Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and international affairs intern, at the Kosovar Prime Minister’s Office. Other posts regard: cultural assistant, at the Kosova Academic Centre; project assistant, at the Balkan Initiative for Reconstruction and Development; director, at Prishtinë’s Youth Centre; board member and regional coordinator, of the Kosova Youth Network, while Arlinda is also active in the field of non-governmental affairs, through Kosovo Institute for Advanced Studies, which offers a platform for discussing various state building processes.Their mission is also to initiate social activism, through critical thinking, while their research and activities seeks to actively encourage professionalism; integrity, and overcome political apathy.

In addition to that, Arlinda’s personal research interests concern: post-conflict state building; the accountability of international organizations; international relations, and diplomacy. Arlinda has published, for example, on the ICC (“The ICC’s First Decade: the Role of the Netherlands and Canada in the First Permanent International Criminal Court”, in: C. Steenman Marcusse and C. Verduijn (eds.) “Tulips and Maple Leaves in 2010: Perspectives on 65 years of Dutch-Canadian Relations”(Barkhuis, Groningen).


More about Arlinda Rrustemi see Staff at Grotious Center for International Legal Studies, and the Alb Fact.

A boxing prodigy: Reshat Mati – the Albanian bear’ has arleady won 22 championship belts

Reshat “The Albanian bear” Mati, takes you in to the world of marital art and boxing as he aims to one day become a professional boxer and MMA-fighter. Despite Reshat’s young age, he’s already ranked as number one in boxing and number one in the world in kickboxing. The prodigy is also undefetaded in both MMA and Muay Thai, and got his 20 championships belts shining on the wall.

Reshat is a 13 year old boy, who goes to school every day and does his homeswork like most kids. But what seperates him from everyone else is not only his titles but his hard training, Reshat trains five times a week and goes from one training to another. With his dad, Adrian Mati on his side supporting him all the way, they both believe their hard work will pay off. Adrian Mati tells THNKR, “As a fighter you want to be a champion and Reshat was a fighter from the beginning. I didn’t make him a fighter, he was born a fighter.”

The passion for boxing runs in the Mati family. Adrian Mati talks about how he learnd how to box from his father that once was a boxer and wants now to pass it on and teach his son Reshat Mati. But it’s not as easy as it sounds, he tells THNKR ” […] but it’s a lot of frustration coaching your own kid, you expect way more than any other kid”.

Reshat has only kind words for his father when talking to THNKR. He says ” […] but also cares about me, he’s always taking care of me, you know”. Reshat’s boxing coach, Aureliano Sosa talks about Reshat getting a little nervous before a fight. But it’s not about losing or doing bad, it’s about Reshat knowing his father will be there and he does not want to look bad infront of him. Reshat describes it like ” When I see my father and he goes ‘stop you going to hit too much, put your hands up’, that’s the kind of things that I get scared of. Because I wanna prove to my father that I’m good enough to box”.

Adrian Mati is worried like every parent would be, for his son to get hurt. At the same time he’s also worried about the opponent, because in the end of the day they are just kids. Adrian continues with saying that it might be a hard sport, but a person should consider it as any sport where people get hurt and accidents happen. Adrian point out that he will never let his son get hurt, he will stop the fight. Reshat on the other hand does not seem as afraid, he tells THNKR that all he needs to do is keep his hands up and protect himself and therefore don’t worries about any brain trauma.

Aureliano Sosa, Reshat’s boxing coach tells THNKR how it can be hard to get Reshat a fight, the 13year old prodigy is so good that no one wants to fight him. Reshat is looking forward to turn 15 – 16 so he can advance to the Olympic trials and then make it to the US team his father says in the interview. He continues with describing the Olympics as the top championship for an amateur fighter. Reshat will then aim to become a professional boxer and MMA-fighter and continue his hard work till he reaches his goal.

In the interview with THNKR, Reshat says “If I keep working hard you know, in my heart and my head I know that I going to be on top”

Watch the whole interview with Reshat Mati

Faton Krasniqi in Finland: Seeking to bring information closer to Kosovo Diaspora

As one of the many young people from Kosovo, Krasniqi was able to excel in his career while living abroad. He has been a part of the Kosovo Diaspora for more than 10 years. While living abroad, he founded, which is one of the largest portals that offer services to Kosovars living in the abroad.

By Albina Makolli and Albana Rama

After finished his degree in math education at the University of Prishtina, in 2002, he immigrated to Germany in order to continue his studies at the Bergische University of Wuppertal. Being a foreign student, Krasniqi tried to learn the German language, in order to be able to study at the university. Due to his financial situation, however, Krasniqi had to cancel his plans. He returned to Kosovo and started working as a math teacher. Although, Krasniqi could not finish his studies in Germany he has good memories of his
time there. The rich educational and cultural experience that he gained in Germany laid a sound foundation for his career.

Krasniqi remembers a few other things that left traces throughout his life, and which have proved helpful for his career. His studies in Germany and the diverse environment with students from around the world inspired him to get engaged in web development. Krasniqi started developing multiple projects. In 2006, he undertook a career change. He quit his teaching job, and decided to immigrate to Finland in order to seek better opportunities for himself. While in Finland, he committed himself to creating a portal for the needs of Kosovo and Albanian diaspora. He found, which has constantly been enriched with new information and content.

When asked about what inspired him to develop the website, Krasniqi says that initially he had taken a break from the web before emigrating to Finland. But once in Finland, he felt he could make a use of what he had previously learned in Germany, and thus planned to create a portal in the Albanian language which would cover all areas in life. The first portal was named “” (meaning about everything), but was closed after one year because Krasniqi thought that the name was not suitable for the web. However, Krasniqi did not give up on his idea. Instead, he thought of naming his portal “gjiganti” (“the giant”).

Krasniqi does not reveal much about his private life. He says that Finland offers many opportunities to keep him busy, and that he always tries to give his maximum. Apart from his work at, Krasniqi often engages in voluntary work at Albanian and other foreign organizations. One of those activities that he especially enjoyed was working at a local radio station in Helsinki. He moderated radio programs in Albanian language.

Apart from working on, Krasniqi has been working on another project called “rinia 21” (“youth 21”) which stand for Albanian youth of the 21st century. In order to work with youngsters, Krasniqi completed trainings in Finland, which were financed by the European Commission. Those trainings are organized by the EU agency in Finland. In Slovakia and Island Krasniqi went to acquire additional trainings, and obtained the Youthpass certificate. More information about this particular project can be found under

Below you could find more details about

As the name ‘Gjiganti’ (Giant) already indicates, ‘Gjiganti- media elektronike’ is a platform that offers a giant data base with information related to Albanians living abroad. It offers sections on 19 different countries that Albanians live. One can find for instance Albanian communities or links to Albanian newspapers that are being published in the US and other destination countries. The website is being run in Albanian only and mostly by Faton Krasniqi, its founder. There are many sub-categories and one of those categories is ‘Emigranti’. Emigranti is offered in six different countries (Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Finland, Sweden and Norway), and is dedicated to providing information, guidelines, brochures and other materials which serve Albanians during the process of finding their way in the Diaspora. Emigranti has proven to be a leading portal for the Albanian Diaspora related projects and meeting the needs of Albanians in the Diaspora. Emigranti was founded in 2007.

Jeta Rudi: A young committed student of developmental economics

Jeta Rudi is an excellent example of a young devoted Kosovar student abroad that is making remarkable achievements with her education, research, and work in the United States.

Jeta Rudi is currently pursuing her PhD studies in the field of Applied Economics at University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. She plans to concentrate on the subfields of Development Economics and Consumer Behavior & Household Economics. Jeta currently works as a Research Assistant at Minnesota Population Center (MPC) where she integrates individuals’ time use data from different periods of time and from eight different North American and European countries, under the ATUS-X project.

Jeta was born in Gjakovë, in 1988 and completed her education through high school in her hometown. Jeta moved to the U.S. to pursue higher education at the age of 18, where she had been awarded a full tuition and room and board scholarship from Berea College in Kentucky.

At Berea College she double-majored in Economics and Mathematics and graduated in 2010 with magna cum laude honors. While at Berea College, Jeta worked part-time at the Campus Life Department as a Student Financial Manager and at the Mathematics Department as a Teaching Assistant. She spent her summers conducting economic research at Virginia Tech University and at Berea College. She also received numerous academic awards including: Joel Dean Scholarship in Economics (2010), Olive Russell Fellowship (2010), Navy V-12/V-5 Memorial Scholarship (2009), as well as the Best Undergraduate Paper Award from Kentucky Economic Association (2009).

Upon graduating from Berea College, Jeta moved to Virginia to pursue her Master’s degree in the field of Agricultural and Applied Economics at Virginia Tech University. Her Master’s thesis research consisted of two studies. The first study analyzes the determinants of survival in the U.S. market of fresh fruit and vegetable imports. The second study investigates time allocation in home food production for households participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the United States. Her complete Master’s thesis can be found here.

Jeta has engaged in several economic research studies and is a coauthor of a number of published and working papers. She has presented her research in various conferences in the United States, including the annual meetings of: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association and Southern Agricultural Economics Association. Throughout her academic career, Jeta has been inducted into several academic honor societies, including: Golden Key International (2011), Gamma Sigma Delta (2011), Pi Mu Epsilon (2010) and Phi Kappa Phi (2009). In addition to Economics, Jeta is passionate about Mathematics, Philosophy, Politics, and Albanian Literature. Two of her co-authored journal articles are outlined below:

Kuminoff, Nicolai V., Congwen Zhang, and Jeta Rudi. 2010. “Are Travelers Willing to Pay a Premium to Stay at a “Green” Hotel? Evidence from an Internal Meta-Analysis of Hedonic Price Premia.” Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, 39 (3), 468-484.

Badirwang, Keeletlhoko Faith, Gertrude Nakakeeto, Jeta Rudi and Daniel B. Taylor. “Nutrition in Central Uganda – An Estimation of a Minimum Cost Healthy Diet.” Presented at the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association 2011 Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA. Available here.

Being tall and loving basketball: Adrian Makolli heads from Germany to the US to study and play

“Most of the time I consider myself German, since that’s where I grew up and where I’ve got most of my friends, but deep in my heart I know that I am Albanian. I love my ancestors and our history.”  Adrian Makolli, a student and an athlete at Grace College, studies International Business Administration and plays basketball for his college. 

American people make dreams come true: how Adrian came to reach his goal to play basketball

Adrian tells how he ended up playing basketball for Grace College in Indiana, USA. He says: “I came to the US as an exchange student, only for one year during my junior year at Riley High School in South Bend, Indiana, USA. As I was finishing that year, Coach Johnson [basketball coach at Riley High School] asked me if I wanted to come back to the US.  I did not contemplate. I just said “YES! So, coach Johnson called his best friend, Rudy Glingle, and asked him if he was interested in recruiting me to play college basketball. Rudy then thought of his friend Jim Kessler, or as we call him Coach K, at Grace College Lancers Basketball. Coach K was interested, and came all way to Riley High School together with his All American player Eric Gaff”. Coach K watched me do drills, and play some basketball. First, he was not sure whether he should take me into his team, but he saw the potential in me ,and decided to go for it.”

However, before Adrian could start at Grace College, he needed to finish his last year of high school, preferably somewhere close to Grace College. It was difficult for Coach K to make the decision for Adrian. Once he did, he worked at making it possible that he finds a new school, family, and get ready for College. As Coach K was consulting with friends about Adrian’s issue, one of his friends, a host father to be, Scott Silveus, offered to take Adrian into his family. He introduced Adrian to the Silveus family and offered to try a night stay at their place. Adrian continues: “I spent a night at the Silveus’ house, just to see if we would get along. I liked it and I wanted to come back and stay with them. They were very loving and caring. Today, they are like my parents, trying to make sure I feel at home and succeed at work or on the court. I feel with them like home. Their kids are like three younger siblings to me.”

His host mother Cindy Silveus remembers: “The first time I met Adrian was when he stayed with us for a night. We called his parents in Germany so we could get to know each other a little bit, and to make sure they agree with him staying at our house. Scott and the boys had already met him before at Grace College. They came back home and were all excited about Adrian staying with us. What was particularly important to me was that Adrian connected with my little daughter Maddie, who was only 4 years old at that time. To me the most important thing is to have someone I can trust being around Maddie. But that was not a problem at all. They get along so well.” – she says with a smile on her face. She continues: “What was interesting about Adrian staying with us is that after he went off to College, we received an offer to take in another exchange student but I said ‘NO!’ Our investment in Adrian was more than just staying with us for one year. We decided to continue to support him throughout his college career. He still comes to our house when he’s off college and we see him as one of our kids now”. Adrian joined the Silveus family for one year, while finishing his last year of high school at Lakeland Christian Academy nearby.

Maturing as a person and a player: playing basketball at Grace College
In November 2009 during his last year at Lakeland Christian Academy, Adrian signed the contract to play for Grace College and study there. He started his Freshman year  in 2010 to study International Business Administration. In summer 2012, he entered his Junior year and started playing basketball together with one of his younger host brothers Joshua Silveus, who just started his Freshman year at Grace College. The Grace College Lancers play in the NAIA Division 2. Coach K remains involved and guides his players on the court and outside it. Adrian says:  “Coach K is a very good role model. He is like a father to us. We can talk to him about everything. Practicing is hard and he teaches us a lot of discipline but he is also very funny and makes our practices very entertaining.” Adrian pauses for a bit and then says, “He is always there for us. Coach K sacrifices a lot for the team, he wants us to reach our full potential”.

The academic achievements of his players is Coach K’s priority. “He checks on our grades and makes sure that we don’t fall behind’.” Adrian says that his team mates care a lot about each other. “We have a great unity within our team. We make sure that everyone is on the same page. We push each other at practice and make sure that we do things right.” Coach K calls Adrian the “Long Shadow”, because he does indeed cast a shadow of influence in Winona Lake all the way from Germany. “From the fisrt time I met him I realized how his gentle and gracious spirit surrounded his seven foot towering frame. He is a first class young man who represents his family and country very, very well.  While some are intimidated by his size, his genuine interest in people and his courteous willing spirit to help others is his distinguishing quality that attracted him to others”. Coach K further tells us that “around the basket on the basketball court, every player must keep track of where he is because he will send their shot into the bleachers with his shot blocking ability at the defensive end and he is always ready to “bury” a dunk with the greatest of ease and authority at the offensive …Once again his shadow is evident around campus as he is one of the most recognized students and he can be observed greeting countless students with his friendly handshake at every meeting and parting. The big ‘A’, ‘Long Shadow’, or just Adrian is special to our campus”.

His team mate Tannan Peters says that “Adrian is someone who remembers where he comes from. He is humbled by his roots, and is proud to speak about his heritage, sharing it with others when the opportunity presents itself. Adrian has certainly matured over the past three years at Grace, the Lord has changed him and given him something to believe in through the gospel”. Greg Miller, who just recently received two Player of the Week awards from Crossroads League, says that “Adrian is a man of God who truly lives his life the way many Christians try. He has shown great maturity growing as a man and growing spiritually.  He will  be a leader wherever he goes and whatever God chooses to do in his life. Adrian has also shown his work ethic in the game of basketball. He has learned a lot as well as improved his skills. He can become a great basketball player and shows a lot of promise on and off the court”.

When asked about the reason why Adrian plays basketball, Adrian replied that  when he was 12, he realized that his height was above average, so he tried to play basketball and that’s how he had come to love it. Now he is 7 feet tall. He says: “I think that, in the USA I can make the most out of my talent and passion for basketball.”

Between his roots, German life and American college experience
When asked about his identity, Adrian responded: “Most of the time I consider myself German, since that’s where I grew up and where I’ve got most of my friends, but deep in my heart I know that I am Albanian. I love my ancestors and our history.” Adrian is interested in history and has read a lot about Albanian history. Once a year he tries to go back to Kosovo to visit his relatives. He especially misses his grandparents. He says: “Actually that’s the best time of the year”. Adrian’s parents are currently living in Germany but he expects them to go back to Kosovo.”I hope I’ll be able to financially support my parents and my extended family in Kosovo. I can’t really imagine going back to Kosovo and stay there for good, but I’ll keep visiting my family.” At the end of his interview Adrian adds: “I’ve been blessed with so many opportunities throughout my life. One day I’d like to provide others with the same opportunities”.

Richard Lukaj, an Albanian-American successful businessman

Richard (Steele) Lukaj, an albanian successful businessman, serves as Senior Managing Director at The Bank Street Group LLC.

Mr. Lukaj has more than 15 years of investment banking experience having originated, structured and executed more than 200 deals totaling over $100 billion of transaction value.

Mr. Lukaj is a founder of Bank Street and aspires with his partners to create a premier middle market investment banking franchise focused on growth sectors of the global economy.

Mr. Lukaj has executed hundreds of transactions over the course of his successful investment banking career, ranging in variety from mergers and acquisitions, underwriting of debt, equity and derivative securities, restructurings, exclusive sales, and other financial advisory mandates. Mr. Lukaj served as the Chief Executive Officer Bank Street Telecom Funding Corp. He served as an Investment Banker.

He involved in the telecom industry for 12 years. He served as a Senior Managing Director at Bear, Stearns & Co., where he headed the Emerging Telecommunications practice for three years. During his tenure at Bear Stearns, he contributed to the development of one of the strongest investment banking franchises on Wall Street.

Mr. Lukaj has participated in numerous industry and regulatory conferences and been recognized for his accomplishments in national publications. He serves as Director of Peace of Mind at Light Speed Inc.

He served as a Director of TransMedia Corp. and Bank Street Telecom Funding Corp. Mr. Lukaj was appointed as Honorary Consul to the epublic of Albania by the U.S. Department of State and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Albania in 2002.

Mr. Lukaj is a founder and serves as President of the Lukaj Foundation, Inc., a charitable organization which supports various other charitable organizations.

***Source: “Richard Steele Lukaj” 13.09.2012.

Rita Ora on New York Times: “From England, Fashion’s Latest Darling”

By BEE-SHYUAN CHANG for the New York Times

If fashion muses bloom in the dead of winter, as ateliers begin to hum with sewing machines preparing for the Fall 2013 collections, the singer Rita Ora might be a particularly flamboyant breed of English rose. At 22, Ms. Ora, the prized protégé of Jay-Z, has been rapidly winning over designers with her carefree style: a blend of hip-hop, designer bling and ’90s Gwen Stefani.

“Fashion has been so serious for so long, we’re ready to have some fun, aren’t we?” said the Pucci designer Peter Dundas, who dressed Ms. Ora for several red carpet events last year and admires her “hip-hop and ultrafeminine yet tomboy look.” Mr. Dundas met the singer for the first time when he invited her to escort him to Bergdorf Goodman’s 111th anniversary party last October. Ms. Ora wore a classic cream column that matched her “Jean Harlow hair,” Mr. Dundas said, declaring his date “a ton of fun.”

Ms. Ora indeed seems game for mischief. “We went out big time,” she said, giggling on a December Tuesday, over lunch at Balaboosta in NoLIta. Her voice was slightly scratchy from the previous night, when she’d performed her last show of the year at the Highline Ballroom in a giant fur coat, which quickly came off to reveal a black sports bra and loose Roberto Cavalli printed silk pajamas. Afterward, she partied into the wee hours with Iggy Azalea, an opening act for Ms. Ora’s sold-out show; Cara Delevingne, a model whom Ms. Ora first met at a music festival and called “my baby”; and Ms. Ora’s older sister, Elena, 24, who is one of her managers and was also at lunch, along with the singer’s publicist, her stylist, and the stylist’s assistant.

“I just had to let loose,” Ms. Ora said. “It was a big year for me.”

Indeed. Peroxide blonde, and usually spotted with her full lips painted matte red (although for the interview she wore a pinkish nude to “match the neutrals theme” of her zippered blush pink leather pants and taupe silk top, both by Salvatore Ferragamo), Ms. Ora seems as if she would probably be able to find a spotlight in Antarctica. And this despite the fact that her first album, “Ora,” doesn’t yet have a firm release date in the United States, though it was released (at No. 1 on the pop chart) in Britain in August and a music video single, “Shine Ya Light,” has topped 5.6 million views on YouTube at last count.

Ms. Ora is not a figure without controversy. In early December, there was an apparent dispute with the reality star Rob Kardashian, who was rumored to be her boyfriend, although the relationship was never officially acknowledged; he suggested she had cheated on him with “nearly 20 dudes.” The rant on Twitter, since deleted, spawned the unfortunate hashtag “RitaWhora.”

“We were friends,” said Ms. Ora, her face downcast over a chicken salad. Then she bucked up: “It’s never really about what anybody else does. It’s really about your reaction that makes it important in your life when it sometimes isn’t.”

A couple of weeks after the interview, though, she was less reserved in an expletive-laced Twitter face-off with Holly Hagan of “Geordie Shore,” the British answer to “Jersey Shore,” furiously rebutting Ms. Hagan’s allusions that she had an affair with Jay-Z. Ms. Ora’s tweets have since been removed.

Still, while Twitter spats are par for the course when you’re a budding pop star, capturing the imagination of the fashion industry is more difficult. Along with wearing the glamorous Pucci designs, Ms. Ora has proved an able mannequin for stacks of gold accessories, including a couple of Cartier Juste un Clou bangles (from her performance at a party for the bracelet in New York last April); newly acquired Birkin bags (a black and a red, both with gold hardware, with the latter finding coveted real estate on her “wall of red handbags” in her apartment in Kensington); mannish suiting (like the tuxedo jacket she wore in October to perform at the Absolut Tune party hosted by Charlotte Ronson); wacky House of Holland outfits (one of which earned her a spot in Vogue’s “Best Dressed” selection in November); and Vivienne Westwood corseted creations (such as a Cinderella-like gown she wore to the British Fashion Awards in late November after the British Fashion Council invited her to perform).

For fashion party bookers, Ms. Ora seems to meet all necessary prerequisites. Janjay Sherman, the publicity and talent relations director of Extra Extra, the events arm of Paper magazine that put together the Absolut Tune party for the liquor giant Pernod Ricard, said she had recommended the singer because she started popping up on the gossip Web site “Plus, I like her sound and I like her look, and in order to become mainstream, you need to have the look, the sound and a strong social media following,” Ms. Sherman said. “She has the three things.”

Or as Sarah Bessette, the public relations director of spirits at Pernod Ricard USA, said: “She’s backed by Jay-Z. Everything Jay-Z touches turns to gold.”

Despite Ms. Ora’s youth, the English designer Henry Holland of House of Holland is already sensing a maturation of her fashion choices. “From her first video she was very urban and now that she’s become more successful, she’s got more of a polish to her look, but it’s nice to see that she still adds an urban twist on things,” he said. “She’ll still pair a gown with trainers. She’s not having an identity crisis.”

Mr. Holland suggested it’s because music and fashion often collide in London circles. “These girls have a really strong sense of self and what they want to look like,” he said. “They’re more educated and aware of designers. They’re not being pushed around by music executives.”

In fact, Ms. Ora will argue with her stylist team, led by Jason Rembert in New York, and her best friend, Kyle De’volle, in London. “We fight all the time, and she won’t back down,” Mr. Rembert said after lunch. “But on the other hand, I can respect that. A lot of girls will say they’re into fashion when they’re not. That’s not the case with Rita. She’ll know who some of the most underground young British designers are.”

Ms. Ora attributes much of her fashion education to her surroundings. “It was really mixed cultures growing up,” she said. “I had metrosexual and homosexual friends; I had other friends who had nothing to do with anything. It was a whole bunch of characters.”

Born in Kosovo to Kosovar-Albanian parents, Ms. Ora was a year old when her family moved to London. They eventually settled near Portobello Road in West London. Her father, Nick, owns and operates the Queens Arms pub in Kilburn, where young Rita learned how to pour a pint; her mother, Vera, whom she described as “the coolest” and her “superhero,” is a psychiatrist. She also has a brother, Don, 15.

When she wasn’t playing soccer (“I was the biggest tomboy,” she said, adding that her favorite team was Chelsea), Rita was singing. At 11, she applied to the Sylvia Young Theatre School and was accepted on an audition plus a written paragraph in which she described her love of music and her pet rats, Ant and Dick.

At 14 she started to pay attention to her looks: ethnically ambiguous (“I’m often mistaken for Spanish or Latin descent,” she said), with a curvaceous figure. With Portobello Market at her doorstep, she was “surrounded by clothes,” Ms. Ora said, adding that many of her friends worked at the stalls. “I never really had much money. I would buy things for two or three pounds and completely remake them, like rip up two T-shirts and sew them back together front to back. Somehow no one would understand what I was wearing, but I did.” Her closet today is still full of market finds, she said, interspersed with labels like J. W. Anderson and Maison Martin Margiela.

And Ms. Ora sees more designer clothes in her future, particularly as invitations to fashion shows come flowing in. (She has already been in the front row at Louis Vuitton and Vivienne Westwood. With a tour approaching in February and March, though, she has yet to figure out which will fit in her hectic schedule.) She’s inspired by “what the designer was thinking, how did he choose fabric to how he sewed the embroidery,” Ms. Ora said, adding: “One day, I want to do a line. But maybe after I do like 11 albums. Music is my first and foremost.”

Notably, though, she has sought out a sartorial signature. A photo of Daphne Guinness adorns her living room, focusing on the heiress’s fingers, completely covered in rings.

“That’s another characteristic to know you by,” Ms. Ora said, showing off her own assortment of excessive gold baubles on her fingers. “Every person has a signature. Just some people don’t know it yet.”

And her heels, of course, are usually high, like the nude mesh Christian Louboutins she wore at lunch — scored at a sample sale, she said.

“Like the kitten heel, I hate,” Ms. Ora said, cringing. “Either wear a heel or don’t wear a heel, O.K.? I really despise those wedge trainers, too.” (Though she loves Air Jordans.) “I understand they want the lift, but I think they’re a sin. One hundred percent sin.”

And perhaps redemption is to be found on the red carpet. “I am committed to glamour,” she said.


(The original article was published recently in the NYT)
New York Times, Rita Ora: From England, Fashion’s Latest Darling, January 9, 2013.

Taip Ramadani of Kosovo seeks success with the Australia’s National Handball Team

The handball selector of Australia Taip Ramadani is aiming for success in the World Championship, which will be held in Spain this year. The former Kosovo handball player wants to improve Australia’s performance from last championship in 2011 in Sweden.

“Our objective is to improve the results we achieved in Sweden, play high quality games, and return with victory”, said Ramadani in an interview for the official website of the next championship,

Ramadani, who has played over 100 matches for Australia, is also thinking about the Olympics that will be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

“We are aiming to improve the talent of our young players and gain experience in competitions before the Olympics. The young players need time to adjust to playing in the first team. As of now, Oceania does not have a tradition in the Olympic qualifications and it is crucial that we get better as a team”, explained Ramadani.

Australia will be in Group D in the Championship and will face stiff competition from Croatia and Spain. However, Ramadani is not worried about playing against these big teams. He is proud to go to Madrid as it will be his first time in Spain. He is aware of Spain’s success in many sports, but not necessarily in handball.

Esmiana Jani, an Up-and-Coming Albanian Ballerina in D.C.

Esmiana Jani, an Up-and-Coming Albanian Ballerina in D.C.

Meet one of The Washington Ballet’s best talents, Esmiana Jani. She was born in Albania and lived in multiple countries around the world in her young 20 years. At 5, her family moved to Greece, then Broomall, Pennsylvania, in the United States at 8.

Despite wherever she is in the world, however, Jani feels most comfortable on

stage, which has led to her joining The Washington Ballet after graduating from Marple Newtown High School in 2011. “I can’t wait to get up on stage,” she says. “Once I’m on stage, I’m stripped of all stress. Being on stage is why I dance. I have never been in doubt about what I wanted to be in life. Since I was little, I dreamed of becoming a ballerina. I have never given it a second thought. It was clear that it had been determined I would become one.”

A clear supportive evidence of such claims was her performance at her first recital at the age of 4 in Albania. She began ballet lessons at the International Academy of Ballet and Media in Pennsylvania at the age of 8. There, she spent most of her after-school time and weekends. Under Anastasia Babayeva, a graduate of the Academy of Bolshoi in Moscow, she worked every day towards her dream.

“Anastasia brought a lot of valuable experience from the Academy of Bolshoi. It’s admirable and amazing to have the chance to observe her perfected skills,” says Jani of her teacher.

Though she has reached the stage of The Washington Ballet, Jani insists she has much to learn still. “I have learned something new from every ballerina I have met at The Washington Ballet.” Regarding her experience on the U.S. capital’s stage, she states that “Every time I meet a new dancer, I closely observe what new things they bring and how I can apply that in my own interpretations. We all come from different backgrounds and have a lot to exchange.”

Jani will return this month for the third year in a row at The Studio Company in DC for the 2013-2014 season. The Studio Company is where six ballerinas between 18-20 receive extra training to help them transition from students to professional ballerinas.

Next spring, the trainees of The Studio Company will interpret a show together with professional dancers from the studio. Jani is already an accomplished professional. She is paid regularly for her performances, enough to cover her living expenses in D.C. “I am still on my way to prove that I have the potential and sufficient maturity to be part of a professional studio. Step by step, they give you roles with greater responsibilities. With time, you can achieve anything. I need to keep working hard and patiently.”

In her formula for success, the part of the equation that demands tremendous effort is no challenge to Jani. She has willingly given up teen-like routines. “This has been the purpose of my life since I was 5. All I had was school, ballet, homework, and sleep. I have never had a problem with the fact that I was doing what others were. They liked what they did, and similarly, my focus was on something completely different that I loved whole-heartedly.”

Ballet is a profession that requires high athletic skills, regular workouts, and a specific diet. Jani has spent her last summer at her home country but tells that she hasn’t stopped her from following her diet.

“I have taken ballet lessons every day and I have been a regular visitor of fitness centers” she says. “I need to be physically ready because when you get back to work you have to be at your best shape. That cannot be gained back quickly. Indeed, it is very important to eat healthy though during summer you’re a little freer to choose.

Jani can barely wait to return to Washington and to her daily routing of rehearsals and show performances. “ I have come a long and difficult way but worth it every bit of it”. “I have had to go through a lot of struggles to get this far and I still have a lot of work ahead. It has been generally a lot of fun. After this has been my dream.”

The original article was posted at Illyriapress .Click here to read the original article

Young Kosovars study EU policies in Belgium

Yllëza Berisha and Besiana Musmurati are pursuing their Masters degrees at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium through the EU Scholarship Programme for Kosovo. The aim of the Young Cells Scheme, a joint collaboration of the EU and the Government of Kosovo, is to improve the professional capacity and expertise of civil servants in key sectors of Kosovo’s public administration by enabling young Kosovars to study at renowned European universities. Yllëza and Besiana are among 200+ students who have received scholarships to study various subjects such as law, economics, environmental sciences, agricultural studies, statistics, aviation safety, engineering, telecommunications, etc.

Kosovo Diaspora talked with these two enthusiastic students about their studies, living in Belgium, and future plans. Yllëza is pursuing a Masters in European Studies and Besiana is studying European Politics and Policies. Except the unpredictable weather, they talk fondly of Leuven, whose population swells during the academic year with over forty thousand students from around the world. The medieval architecture and the friendly locals make the city enjoyable and welcoming, says Besiana. Learning to decipher food packaging that is labeled only in Dutch, French, or German was quite a challenge at first, says Yllëza lightheartedly. Both of them like to explore the city in their free time and try new dishes of international cuisines.

Besiana points to the limited knowledge on Kosovo by many students in Belgium. She says that young Kosovars can improve their country’s image by being great students and good ambassadors. Since many Belgian students are keen to explore Kosovo’s culture and traditions, Besiana and Yllëza plan to invite some of them to visit Kosovo in the summer for a better understanding of its history and values. Yllëza emphasizes the fact that Kosovo is a European project that is still a work in progress, considering EU’s involvement in supporting the new state on its path toward integration.

Upon completion of their studies, Yllëza and Besiana plan to work for Kosovo institutions such as the Ministry of European Integration and apply their knowledge of best European practices and policies.