Monthly Archives: November 2014

Alma Hetemi Brings European Flavors to Idaho

There is a food truck stationed along Addison Avenue in Idaho’s Twin Falls where one can get delicious Kebaps, the Balkan beef sausage complete with flat bread, chopped onions, ajvar pepper spread and sour cream. The 3D Euro Food Express is run by Alma Hetemi, a Kosovar who fled the 1999 conflict and found herself a new home in the United States.

Alma and her husband have been engaged in cooking and food services for quite some time, thus making them popular faces for the community of Twin Falls. One can find their truck giving out food throughout various events, from concerts to farmers’ markets. The love for cooking runs on the family. With siblings owning restaurants and the mother acting as a coaching kitchen chef, Alma was conditioned to be a great grill master. Her cooking philosophy is simple: ‘one time you might cook something bad, but the next time it will be better’ claims Hetemi.

However, baking 200 pita breads a week does indicate that Hetemi does not let chance get in her way. The 3D Euro Food Express brings its customers the international flavors, be that Bosnian, Greek or Albanian.

For more info, please follow the related article here.

Kosovo’s Balkanspring at JuleExpo

BalkanSpring, a Kosovo based craft shop, has been a part of JuleExpo 2014 held in Lillestrom Norway, one of the biggest craft fairs. The fair gathers annually 20,000 craft lovers from around the world. This is the first time products from Kosovo have been on display at this fair, thus making this a very exciting step towards bringing Kosovo closer to the rest of the world. is a web based platform that offers Kosovo based craft-work to international markets. At the fair, Balkanspring has presented traditional and unique clothing, accessories, scarfs and shoes. The sole aim of such an initiative is promotion of crafts as well as strengthening capacities of current Kosovo based entrepreneurs.


Street Food Kosovo Wins First Price at Chef Pierre Wind Competition

Street Food World is an initiative focused on bringing the best of the traditional dishes of countries worldwide. Currently, the initiative has covered food from India, Vietnam and Kosovo. The project is focused on producing a cookbook with selected dishes.

What makes this initiative particularly interesting this year is the fact that their published cookbook Street Food Kosovo won the first price at Chef Pierre Wind competition held in Amsterdam. Street Food Kosovo includes recipes that are collected in Kosovo from laypeople and owners of small food shops. Furthermore, the cookbook is a co-initiative and supporter of Care For Kosovo Kids through sending 50% of the sales directly as a donation to Care for Kosovo Kids, the organization that helps children in their fight against cancer.

If you would like to learn more on the Street Food World follow the link here. You could also purchase the Street Food Kosovo cookbook here and donate to the Care For Kosovo Kids Organization.

Kosovo Diaspora To Hold A Global Google Hangout

The Virtual Google Hangout is the first ever event held online with the aim of providing an interlinkage between the Kosovar Diaspora and government  representatives. This will in turn stimulate a much needed discussion over the current and future possibilities of involving the Diaspora community in the decision making process in Kosovo.

Part of the Global Entrepreneurship Week Kosovo 2014, this Hangout is marked as an important event for it will for the first time, bring the thoughts of individuals worldwide into understanding the opportunities and challenges faced towards fully utilizing an organized cooperation between Kosovo and its diaspora. The event shall bring together stakeholders of varied background, who through their work have affected the Diaspora, be that in civil society, activism or policy making.

We invite you to join the live broadcast on Thursday, November 20th 2014 (Time Zones announced on the poster). Click here to join. Please make sure you are using your Google account to join the event. If you are interested to participate in the discussion live or want to know more about the event please e-mail us at [email protected].



Saliu Salutes The United States Veterans

Read on the great story of giving back, where Nazim Saliu, a Kosovo refugee,  found a way to thank the United States Veterans for their contribution to Kosovo. The story was published by Eye Witness 3 News and could be found here.

A Kosovo native, who is a barber in Rocky Hill, said he was brought to the United States with the help of American soldiers.

On this Veterans Day, Nazim Saliu gave back to them by cutting their hair for free on Tuesday.

Saliu, also known as “Noli,” is a barber who is living a dream in his Rocky Hill salon. It’s a dream that didn’t seem possible when he was in his native Kosovo in the late 1990s.

“When I was in a refugee camp, how they help me and brought me here,” Saliu said. “It’s my favor to do.”

Saliu and his family were chased out of their native Kosovo where war was leaving thousands dead. The United States Military came to the rescue and Saliu got a new chance in this country.

After living in Minnesota for about nine years, Saliu said he knew it was time to make some kind of change and that’s what ultimately brought him to Connecticut where he has been living with his family and cutting hair now for almost seven years.

That is why Saliu offered free haircuts to any veteran, police officer or firefighter all day on Tuesday at his salon Noli’s.

“I like to help pay back whenever they need me,” Saliu said.

Read more:

From a Concept to Success: Kosovo Diaspora Focus Group in New York

Join the discussion forum that will bring together New York-based Albanian business and civil society leaders to discuss and develop ideas that will make the  Diaspora Virtual Registration platform a success.

The event will be held on November 14th, 2014 from 18:30-20:00 at the School of International and Public Affairs ,Columbia University. Floor 13, Room 1302.

The discussion aims to firstly introduce the project to our Diaspora and familiarize them with the potential outcomes of Registration. One of the goals of the Registration of Diaspora refers to utilizing the Diaspora Registry in order to establish evidence-based policies in Kosovo and address the needs and concerns of Diaspora worldwide. Secondly, it seeks to enhance communication between the Kosovo government and its Diaspora. The Focus Group shall also cover the importance of the registry in the lives of the Diaspora members, the privacy of the information, as well as other means of registering family members.

Most importantly, this meeting seeks to take ideas and opinions of the members of our Diaspora regarding ways to promote the Diaspora Registry effectively, address areas that need improvement and examine ways in which the project could enable the Diaspora influence the policy making process in Kosovo.

Rina Lila Talks Kosovo Diaspora

In an interview for the Columbia University SIPA Magazine, Rina Lila shares her story and involvement with the succesful online media campaign, the KosovoDiaspora Initiative.

Born and raised in Kosova, Rina Lila MIA ’15 came to the United States in 2005 to finish high school in southern California; she went on to major in political science at Whittier College. Lila spoke with SIPA News about growing up in Kosovo, the impact the United Nations has had on her life, and being a part of Kosovo Diaspora in New York City.

Kosovo Diaspora’s upcoming event, “From a Concept to Success: Focus Group on the Diaspora Virtual Registration,” will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, November 14, in room 1302 of the International Affairs Building.

Tell us a bit about Kosovo Diaspora.

A former SIPA student, Behar Xharra MIA ’12, established the Kosovo Diaspora initiative, which is meant to raise awareness on Kosovo, and to highlight Kosovo through digital diplomacy. We want to make available positive digital media about Kosovo.

Behar graduated in 2012, before you came to SIPA. How do you know him?

Everyone from Kosovo knows each other. Behar actually convinced me to come to SIPA. [I was considering other schools], but he told me that SIPA is more international. He said you have more international students, you get to make more connections, it’s close to the United Nations—it’s an invaluable experience. So I came here. Then, last year, he got me involved with the Kosovo Diaspora.

Tell us more about the Kosovo Diaspora event you’ve planned for this Friday [November 14].

This year Behar asked me to lead the first focus group discussion on diaspora registry. Kosovo Diaspora is partnering with International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Kosovo Ministry of Diaspora to promote the registry among our widespread diaspora communities across five continents. The information collected will provide the Kosovo government with a better understanding of geographic and demographic profile of Kosovo Diaspora in order to establish evidence-based policies in Kosovo to address the needs and concerns of diaspora worldwide. As Kosovo Diaspora, we see a lot of potential to having a database of all Albanians everywhere, while working on our mission to digitlize diplomacy. The mission of this diaspora virtual registration is to bring together Albanian civil society leaders, successful entrepreneurs politicians well as students.

Where does your interest in politics and the Diaspora stem from?

I grew up in Kosovo during hard times. I experienced the war. I lived under an oppressive force. I saw the United Nations come in, and this changed my life. So, I wanted to focus on international affairs. I remember peacekeepers coming to Kosovo when I was little, and running to them. I was 11. Since then, I thought “I want to do something like that.” The firsthand experience of war stayed with me.

Until 2008, I didn’t have a Kosovo passport, I had a UN passport, and I was always passionate to see how the UN works. The UN played such a big role in our country. And when Kosovo declared independence, I wanted to see what I could do. Now we’re working on Kosovo’s recognition.

You are currently interning at the UN; tell us about that experience.

I am one of the Albanian advisors for the Albanian Permanent Mission to the UN. I was just in touch with people from the mission and I told them I was interested in representing Albania in the UN. Now I am in the second committee and I listen to the speeches and all the agendas. It is mostly on financing and economics. The main discussions are currently on the post-development goals, so we talk about how to come up with finances.  Sometimes I also do the third committee, and that one is in human rights.

Do your interests lie more with human rights or economic policy?

I think more human rights. But I love being in the finance committee, because I love learning more about the private sector since they play a big role. I like learning something different. My background is in human rights and humanitarian affairs. Now, I’m learning more about the other side.

How are your studies at SIPA related to this?

My concentration is in Economic and Political Development, and my specialization is in International Conflict Resolution. I am one of the co-presidents for the UN Studies Working Group and the Conflict Resolution group and I work very closely with Professor [Elisabeth] Lindenmayer as one of her course assistants. She’s been an inspiration for me with respect to the UN. I’ve always wanted to work for the UN. The fact that the UN was here was the main reason I wanted to come to SIPA.

Interview conducted by Tamara El Waylly MIA ’15; responses are edited and condensed.

Kërçova Albanians Hold Their Annual November Festival In Zurich

This year marks the 7th annual festival of Kërçova Albanians in Zurich, an event that has gathered the attention of many. Every year, the cultural center “Kërçova” invites fellow Albanians to a gathering of three generations, where music, dancing and traditional food are to be enjoyed. An estimate of ten thousand Kercova Albanians live and work in Zurich, thus making ti an important community that contributes to the city’s diverse cultural life.


Image Source-Dialogueplus; Photo of traditional Albanian dance

If you would like to know more on the life of the Kercova Albanians in Switzerland, their history and current affairs, please have the look at the following video coverage.

For more information and contact, follow their page on Facebook here.

Naim Latifi’s great journey on Expressen- Sweden’s biggest newspaper

This story began with a dream of a Kosovar boy of studying abroad in the USA. As a high school student in Prishtina, Naim had read of an American Library in Kosovo and opportunities offered to learn English. Naim marched determined to learn the English language, and so he did. Three years later and piles of English literature books read, he finally gathered the courage to apply for admission to US universities. Naim was offered a scholarship and a spot at a university in Philadelphia. However, unable to cover the rest of the costs, he had to turn down the offer.

Naim is not a quitter. He wrote to the admission office of Växjö University in Sweden and he was offered the Erasmus Mundus scholarship, which covered all the costs. He was one of the 400 students from around the world that got the opportunity to study there. It was a dream come true. However, no dream comes without sacrifice. Naim explains for Expressen one of his most difficult moments: “It was difficult to leave the family. I saw my dad cry for the first time at the airport. It was not easy to come to a foreign country and meet a different culture and not know the language. It took me two years to finally merge in the new culture.”

Once in Sweden, Naim started to apply for jobs so he could cover his living expenses. He started working as a student mentor with the Mentoring Project Näktergalen and then later on became an actor at the police academy in Växjö. At some point, he also worked as a dishwasher at a restaurant. This was an excellent opportunity for him to learn the Swedish language. Naim says that he was very proud of himself when people would finally understand him fully.

Naim hadn’t planned to stay in Sweden but as time passed by, he started to enjoy the country more and more. He had now reached his goal; he finished his studies. Naim decided to go a little further and explore opportunities in Sweden. Soon, he got a job in Stockholm. Naim took his belongings and was headed to a relative’s place, where he was going to stay temporarily. While at a coffee shop on a random day, Naim was greeted by a stranger who had asked if he could sit down next to him and charge his laptop. The well-dressed man had inquired upon Naim’s career and life outlook; it turns out that Naim had applied for a job at this stranger’s company and that they had been in contact through email. Naim had finally found a stable job and a place to stay, thanks to that lucky encounter. To this day, Naim is in touch with the ‘stranger from the coffee shop’ who is now a close friend of his.

After that experience, Latifi always talks to people with suitcases he meets at coffee shops and does not hesitate to offer them a place to stay. Naim Latifi currently works at HiQ, one of Sweden’s biggest IT-consultant companies.

New York’s Favorite Steak at a Kosovar’s Steakhouse

Benjamin Prelvukaj is no common Albanian in the USA. As the owner of Benjamin Steakhouse, he has managed to rank his restaurant among the best of New York City. The New York Times writes of the tough competition among the 14,000 restaurants in the city, where Mr. Prelvukaj’s steakhouse received 27 out of the possible 30 points.

The guest lineup for the steakhouse appears to attract some of the current stars from all the walks of life. From sports to movie stars, Benjamin’s Steakhouse brings its guests a unique experience.


Have a look at some of the reviews Benjamin Steakhouse has received:

The restaurant was also featured in the Westchester Business Connection site: