Monthly Archives: June 2014

Saving the Albanian language, primary obligation of every Albanian

The cultural Albanian-American Association, “Bijte e Shqipes,” celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Albanian school “Gjuha Jone” last week in Philadelphia. It was a lovely ceremony filled not only with anecdotes, recitations, and performances, but also discussions about the school’s future and its development.

The preparations for this event started in early May, when many invitations were sent to Albanian schools. Though not many responded early on, the event turned out to be a highly attended. The hall was filled with so many people of all ages and generations that there was mostly only standing room.

Every member of the Association, including Tajar Domi, Oriola Suku, Dritan Matraku, Vlashi Fili, Bujar Gjoka, Llazar Vero, and many others contributed to making this a special event.

The ceremony started with a speech by Tajar Domi, head of the Association, who expressed his gratitude to the participants, organizers, and the supporters of the Albanian community in Philadelphia.

After an impressive performance by the children’s choir, there was a discussion about the importance of learning a second language, and how parents should encourage their children to learn their native language. The event stressed that the cultural heritage is and has been an essential part of our nation’s existence.

In fact, although there are around 25,000 Albanians living in Philadelphia, the Albanian school has just an average of 50 students per year, despite space for 250 more students.

Sadik Elshani, board member of Albanina-American Association “Bijte e Shqipes” underscored the concern of this statistic, saying, “Let’s hope that this event will help us organize and coordinate our efforts and work even better, identifying the problems and challenges we face, and taking the appropriate measures to overcome those obstacles.”

After his speech, he invited the guests to join in the traditional “Bukë e kripë e zemër” (Bread, salt and heart) cocktail. Folk music and dance followed for a jubilant evening.

The original article was posted at – Click here to read the original article

Engaging Diaspora for Sustainable Economic Development

The DEED project is an innovative initiative for enabling the Kosovo diaspora to take an active and effective role as development agents in their communities of origin. 

Their current project aims to especially encourage women-led remittance-receiving households to become start-up entrepreneurs as well as to expand existing businesses owned by remittance-recipient families to create or expand their business by developing a business plan and operationalizing a small business with the seed money in the form of small grants.

Therefore during the upcoming months DEED will focus on knowledge-based action in order to achieve the set objectives. In order to promote diaspora engagement in economic development in Kosovo, DEED project will continued to work with the EU funded Regional Development Agency (RDA) – South and RDA North, to implement a grant-scheme of 47.000 euro in Municipalities covered under these two RDAs.

To learn more about DEED project and different ways to get involved please visit their webpage HERE

Guests from Turkey at the Ministry of Diaspora

The minister for Diaspora, Mr. Ibrahim Makolli, hosted a group of Albanians from Turkey who had just completed and Albanian language course at the Istanbul Cultural Center.

The Diaspora Ministry has set a long term strategy of institutional care for the Kosovars living abroad. The Cultural Center in Istanbul is a concrete example of institutional care for the cultural preservation of the Kosovars in Turkey; the Istanbul center is the foundation of upcoming centers at other Turkish cities.

The guests were eager to learn of Kosovo and the lives of everyday people here. Their language course, held at the Kosovar Cultural Center, was certified and accredited by the Diaspora Ministry.

Where Albanian Cinema Meets New York

The Albanian Artists Association presents New Yorkers with the a Film Festival that will bring the Albanian culture to life through cinema in New York City.  The goal of this festival is to create awareness and an understanding of Albanian culture, artistic talents and lifestyle, as represented on-screen by visionary artists from all over the world. 

The Albanian Artists Association was established in 2012 as they commemorated Albania’s100th year of independence by screening 100 old and new Albanian films, at TriBeCa Cinemas, Producers Club Theaters and BronxNet at Lehman College. In the second year, AAA proved to expand its success as it featured 28 films at the SVA Theater and the Producers Club Theaters.

Ariot Myrtaj, founder and artistic director of the festival explains that Albanian Film Festival will pursue opportunities in cities with Albanian ties in Northern America, to explore how Albanian culture is manifested and experienced throughout cinema nationwide. These cities include Boston, Detroit, Dallas, Los Angeles, West Palm and Toronto. Myrtaj also explained that on October 11th and 12th AAA will present in Boston.

Here are some of the 2014 highlights:

October 2nd: The event will open with a ceremony and red carpet gala. The gala will feature Albanian celebrities, artists and directors involved in AFF, as well as interviews and photo opportunities for the media. The opening event will be followed by an Albanian film screening, including its cast and crew in attendance, as well as a glamorous opening night after-party.

October 5th: Film debriefs, discussions, and debates surrounding Albanian film and culture, and the effects of the war and communism on Albanian artistic expression.

October 8th: A closing Film during the ceremony night as well as the Awards Ceremony which will feature audience awards and jury prizes recognizing best short, best feature, and best documentary.

To learn more about American Film Festival and purchase your ticket please visit their webpage HERE 

Kosovo-Switzerland, a historic Beach Soccer match

Kosovo will be playing Switzerland on July 9th, on an international friendly Beach Soccer match which has been officially appointed by FIFA.

This event was initiated and organized by Selami and Rabit Rexhepi, the founders of the football club “Illyria” in Switzerland. After a long process, the Kosovo team has received the approval from FIFA and the necessary arrangements have been made by the Football Federation of Kosovo, the Swiss beach soccer team is one of the most prestigious teams in this category. They were the finalists of the 2009 World Cup in Dubai where they were defeated by Brazil. They currently rank the 5th on the FIFA World Ranking for Beach Soccer. The Swiss League, “Swiss Beach Soccer League Suzuki” is also recognized as one of the strongest and best organized leagues in the world.

While Kosovo football lovers are working for an international promotion of the Kosovar football, Beach Football (Beach Soccer) is only played on a local tournament level.

Prior to the game of July 9th, the Kosovo team will play two  test matches against “BSC Havana Shots” and “BeachKings Emmen.”

 The original article was posted at – Click here to read the original article

Albanians at the New York Emigrant Parade

On 21st of June, New York City held its annual International Emigrant Parade, a parade that gathers hundreds of participants from 10 different communities inhabiting this great city. During the event, the participants show their cultural heritage by dressing in ethnic clothing. This year marks the 30th parade where groups from diverse communities bring the unifying character of America. 

The Albanian section of the event has been organized for the 5th year in a row by the “Albanian Roots”. At the parade, the Albanian community presented its cultural pride and heritage, traditional clothing, folk music and traditional dances; all in all, it is an entertaining event for the thousands of by standers who chose to stay and watch the parade.

The greatest addition to the festivities are the children, especially the Albanian children born in the United States. Each and every child part taking in the event has represented a piece of Albania: Tirana, Durrësi, Shkodra, Vlora, Korça, Fieri, Lushnja, Elbasani Berati, Tetova ,Dibra, Ulqini ,Tuzi, Prishtina, Gjakova and Prizren. The “America” square was covered in red and black, flags everywhere and one could hear the sounds and dances of Albanians.

The pictures are the best indicator of the red and black river that covered the parade on 21st of June.

Check out a youtube video from the actual parade:

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

Albanian ethnic identity at UK cultural exhibition

Traditional costumes, tunes from the çifteli, dances and songs were performed at the “1+1 = Love and Life” exhibition at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, UK. Mrs. Remzije Zeka Sherifi, talked on how this is a great opportunity for UK residents to meet and get to know the Albanian culture and Balkans in general.

“The idea has been around for roughly three years now, it is when professionals from 11 museums : Museum of Prishtina, Novi Sad, Sarajevo, Zenica, Banja Luka, Macedonia, Belgrade, Gjakova, Cetinja, Tirana and the Historical museum of Shkodra; in the spirit of good will and cooperation, decided to work on a grand project. The current Glasgow exhibition is truly unique, it has a selection of original photographs as well as traditional ethnic clothing hand made by the women of “Nënë Tereza” women’s group in Glasgow”- explained Mrs. Sherifi.

What made the event so special was the presence of a 45 year old traditional Albanian woman’s dress, made with wool and cotton and hand decorated with beads. The visitors had the chance to see traditional clothing from various Ethnic Albanian cities, as well as clothing from around the world. The event was concluded with a fashion show with colorful clothing and Albanian folk tunes.

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

Yllka Istrefi: Talent beyond borders

Yllka Istrefi: Talent beyond borders

Yllka Istrefi is a talented classical pianist from Kosovo, living in London since 2001. She left Kosovo to follow her dreams and learn more from Professor Benjamin Kaplan. Yllka was awarded a Postgraduate Diploma from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and completed a Master’s Degree in Advanced Piano Performance at the Royal College of Music in London with Vanessa Latarche. Up to date she has had over 200 concerts and performed in many countries across the world, including festivals such as Chelsea Schubert Festival, Mozart Piano Sonata Festival and many others.  

In an interview for Kosovo Diaspora, Yllka talks about her performances and the role of diaspora.

KD: Can you tell us more about your performances?

One of the great advantages of being a performer is that you get to travel and meet lots of different people. I find it amazing that when I get invited back in some concert venues and there are people who come to hear me again and again. In April I performed at the Chopin Festival in Prishtina and going back home for a concert is always a great feeling. I also love performing in Italy; my most recent concert was near Lake Maggiore and the audience was amazing. Obviously, I feel most at home performing in the UK and am very happy to have great relations with many concert venues and promoters across the countries.

KD: What projects are you working on now?

I am working towards a few recitals here in the UK in the coming months and am preparing for a recording session, which I hope to complete during July. I am also working towards a tour of South-West England in 2015. Apart from performing, I am also a very enthusiastic runner and last month in Edinburgh I completed my second marathon in 3 hours 42 minutes, which has qualified me to run at the London Marathon in 2015.

KD: How do you see the art and culture scene in Kosovo?

I find that there is a lot of individual initiative and enthusiasm in Kosovo. There are lots of hard-working professionals who are keeping the cultural life alive. Unfortunately, Kosovo still lacks the basic conditions for proper cultural growth. It is imperative to start thinking and acting as soon as possible towards a structure that would make Kosovo compatible with the rest of Europe.

KD: What are some of the challenges you face as a pianist from Kosovo?

I don’t feel that being from Kosovo has held me back in any way. Especially here in the UK, I have been surrounded by musicians from all over the world and was not much different from them. In some ways, people are more curious about where I come from, our culture and our music.

KD: How can diaspora members help better the image of Kosovo?

By integrating into the adopted culture and setting high standards for themselves. This is important because often the diaspora is the only reflection of our country that many people will see.

For more please check Yllka’s Webpage


Petrit Çeku in the Czech “Open Guitar Festival”

Kosovo-born classical guitarist Petrit Çeku will perform at the “Open Guitar Festival” in Czech Republic this week, which will be held in the historic Gothic castle of “Krikvolat.”

Petrit Çeku was born in 1985 in Prizren where, during primary music school, he received instructions from Luan Sapunxhiu. In 2002 he moved to Zagreb, where he continued his music education under the instruction of Xhevdet Sahatxhija. Later he entered Darko Petrinjak’s class at the Music Academy in Zagreb and graduated from the program in 2008. He currently studies with Manuel Barrueco at “Peabody Conservatory” in Baltimore; USA. His first solo album was released that year under the “Naxos Records” label.

According to the “Peabody Institute” he performs regularly with symphony orchestras as well as in chamber music setting with various musicians.

Petrit has won first prize in “the All-Croatian Competition” in Dubrovnik in 2003 and in the international “Anna Amalia Guitar Competition” in Weimar. He has also won a lot of other prizes and awards, such as “Anna Amalia Competition for Young Guitarists” (Germany-2003), “Emilio Pujol Guitar Competition” (Italy-2004), “Andrés Segovia Competition” (Germany-2004), “the Gold Medal in the Parkening International Guitar Competition” (California, 2012) and other awards all around the world.

Besides the concerts, the “Open Guitar Festival” will also have lessons for the students and teachers of art and music schools. During the festival, the prominent guitarist Richard Wright will also give lessons.