Monthly Archives: April 2015

Vienna Focus Group comlpeted successfully

Virtual Registration of Diaspora initiative has successfully completed the discussion forum. Held at the premises of the Kosovar Embassy in Vienna, the event gathered representatives of the departments of Kosovo, specifically the Ministry of the Diaspora, representatives of various Albanian organizations in Austria and numerous members from the civil society. The forum once again highlighted the importance of meeting directly with citizens and exchange of information with related institutions.2

The discussion form brought together participants from Kosovo,Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania. A question and answer session with the  Secretary of the Ministry of Diaspora, Mentor Borovci, Director of Media Department of the Ministry of Diaspora Mr. Lorik Pustina and the Consul of Kosovo in Austria, Mr. Imer Ladrovci.1

Among many question, a rather important one was raised by Mr. Abdullah Abdullahi from Prizren, who asked whether Albanians who have Austrian citizenship have the right to register and proposed that the registration process intensify during the summer months. Representatives of the Ministry of Diaspora explained that this registration will not cause legal trouble to anyone and does not create any legal complication with dual citizenship, thus it encourages diaspora community members of every legal standing to register.

Mr. Hamez Morina from the ESIKS organizations in Vienna is seeking to promote the Diaspora Registration by ease of access to public services or  reward based program. Another efficient method highlighted by Mr. Morina has been contacting members of the diaspora previously engaged in projects such as “Brain Gain”.

The discussion form has been characterized also by numerous questions regarding Albanians from Montenegro, Macedonia and Albania.  Mr. Sabri Osmani from the city of Ulqin demanded that the registry is more inclusive, alongside Mr. Osmani, a number of people demanded that the Kosovar embassy contact the Macedonian and Montenegrin counterparts in order to expand the reach of the registry.3

Gjakova is historically known the home of fine craftsmen and builders whose quality of work have developed the city’s reputation as a textile, carpentry, and metalwork hot spot. Excitingly, since February this year, a new kind craftsmanship has emerged and it is spearheading the city into the digital age.

A makerspace is a “physical location where people gather to share resources and knowledge, work on projects, network, and build.” The idea is to create a “collaborative studio space for creative endeavors” where “informal combination of lab, shop, and conference room form a compelling argument for learning through hands-on exploration” (source).

Children as young as 9 years old can build prototype circuits with LittleBits.

Children as young as 9 years old can build prototype circuits with LittleBits.

Bonevet is Kosovo’s first makerspace and what better place than Gjakova for it to feel right at home among makers? The non-profit center aims to “nurture a vibrant community of idea and resource sharing among its makers, which will foster character building traits like grit, creativity, open-mindedness, social responsibility and most importantly team work” (source).

Building robots with Arduino

Building robots in Bonevet with Arduino.

Bonevet’s activities primarily revolve around technological experimentation where participants can make use of various professionally maintained manufacturing tools. This enables them to work on projects that involve metal machining, electronics, robotics, automation, 3D printing, computer-aided design, programming, Arduino, LittleBits, and much more.

They’ve already accomplished many interesting creations thanks to a training program that engaged students between the age of 9 and 12 with LittleBits and those between the age of 13 to 17 with Arduino:

Lately, they’ve started working with AutoCAD workstations to create 3D models and designs, as well as using 3D printers and experimenting with CNC Machines. Access to these tools is a great resource for the community as it enables students to further develop their inner-craftsmanship and invent prototypes of great potential for future digital product developments.

Young participants of Bonevet's LittleBits workshop and the electric guitar they built.

Young participants of Bonevet’s LittleBits workshop and the electric guitar they built.

Vllaznim Xhiha, a former member of the Diaspora, is the founder of the idea. Through “Unë e du Kosovën”  Foundation, he invested on the acquisition, renovation, and furnishing of Bonevet makerspace. It’s an initiative he continuously dedicates himself to and that others can support via donations.

Bonevet is already shaping the next generation of made in Kosovo digital craftsmanship and, who knows, maybe it will be known as the birthplace of a future Kosovo Silicon Valley.

Burrneshat At The Tribeca Film Festival

Burrneshat is a movie based on Elvira Dones’s novel Hana that portrays the life of little Hana Doda, a girl in the isolated mountain life of Albania. The story examines the subject of “sworn virgins”, a cultural trait among many patriarchal cultures where women taking the roles of men, adopt a new identity shaped through the gender roles imposed by the culture. The film screenplay has been written and directed by Laura Bispuri and Francesca Manieri and acted by an international cast with Italian actress Alba Rohrwacher ,Albanian actor Flon Kodheli, Lars Eidinger and actors Luan Jaha, Ilirjan Vinca, Bruno Shllaku.

Burrneshat will be screened at the North American Tribeca Film Festival held between 15-26th of April where viewers will have a chance to learn more of the tradition and cultural norms of Albanian highlander life.

The film Burrneshat is a coproduction of Italy (Vivo Film, Colorado Film Production), Kosovo (Kosovo Film Era – Sabina Hill), Albania (Era Film), Switzerland (Board Cadre Film) and Germany (Match Factory). It is funded by the Italian Ministry of Culture, Kosovo Cinematographic Centre, Eurimages and the Media Programme (European Community).

“Four Elements” of Shqipe Mehmeti

Shqipe Mehmeti is an up and  coming artist, combining philosophy and visual aesthetics, her personal art exhibition in Nuremberg  will revive the wisdom of the  ancient philosopher Empedocles. “Four Elements” is a straight forward description of a complex  and sensitive play between fire,water air and soil, a play that makes life possible on earth.

The exhibition is to be held on 30th of April at 19 in the city of Nuremberg,  at the Galerie im Kleinen Saal,  Gemeinschaftshaus Langwasser.

Swiss misconceptions over Albanians: “Wait…what, you are Albanian?”

Swiss newspaper “Tages Anzeiger” interviewed three ethnic Albanian students, to prove how inaccurate are misconceptions over ethnic Albanians in Switzerland. Denise Marquard interviewed Burim Lusha, Vjosa Ismaili and Arbnora Aliu who study at the University of Zurich and the University of Applied Sciences in Zurich.

Does Switzerland make you feel more Albanian or Swiss?

Lusha: I cannot fully answer this question. I am lucky to have been raised in both countries.


There are ongoing discussions if the football players for the Swiss national team are “decent Swiss”.

Lusha: People, in a wider sense, think that Albanians are skilled only in sports. But they don’t consider that there are many students and PhD candidates at Swiss Universities. Since there is no existing codex that defines the values that make a person a “decent Swiss”, this statement seems pointless to me.


Albanians are only football players, bodyguards or people who practice martial art. Is that true?

Ismaili: Unfortunately that’s how the majority of people perceive us. Since high school, I was continuously bullied by being asked: wait what, you are Albanian? There is this idea: if you are Albanian, you are not able to study.

Aliu: I deal with this sort of situation even today at my University. Since I do not give much credit to these comments, I ironically answer back: I was forced to get married, so I study in secret. Then no one dares do discuss it further. The truth is that both my parents studied in ex-Yugoslavia, therefore it is understandable to study in my family.


What’s the deal with Balkan machos? Do they exist or not?

Ismaili: I do not read daily news, because they do not reflect the reality.

Aliu: That what is written about Balkan machos, is still unknown for me, my relatives and my friends. We cannot allow our nation to be humiliated like this.


If a teenager swears in his/her school in Prishtina, what would happen?

 Aliu: This would not end well. This is not how Albanians behave. This derives from gangsters and rap culture that we find on youtube, instagram and twitter.

Lusha: When I read what a school mayor had said, that albanian kids are told that their mother is of no value, I questioned his seriousness. In Albanian culture women, and especially mothers, are given a big respect.


There is the irresponsible driver from the Balkans, and then the Balkan macho. Is there a stereotype for people from Balkans?

Aliu: It disgusts me when I see this generalization. Even the “yugo” notion is used for humiliating Balkan people.


But Croatians, Serbs and Albanians altogether have conflicts between each other, right?

Ismaili: Firstly, we honor each other as human beings. Ethnicity comes second.

Aliu: We are all united by one fact, that we all are immigrants in Switzerland.


Is there gender equality between Albanians?

Ismaili: My dad does the housework, so gender inequality is not an issue in my family.

Aliu: In my family, we are four women. Trust me, it’s not easy for my dad.

Lusha: I love cooking.


Albanians are conservatory rural people and they suppress women’s rights, isn’t that so?

 Aliu: Take a ride to Skopje, Prishtina or Tirana. It’s ridiculous to say that Albanian women are oppressed. On the contrary, they are open and secure about themselves.


So they do not wear burka or anything similar to it?

The three of them: In Albanian territory, we do not know anyone who wears burka.


What about equal rights?

Lusha: Speaking for myself, I have never experienced discrimination.

Aliu: Back in high school, I had a teacher who barely gave me a B. When I asked her what was the reason about it, she answered: do your parents read the Neue Zurcher Zeitung? This was absurd. Later on I had another teacher, and I had excellent grades.

Ismaili: I was one of the few immigrants who succeeded to get into high school, and I think that if we had more support, many of other immigrants could have been attending it.

Aliu: In my primary school, 80% of the kids in my class were immigrants. I was the only one who could get into high school. Every year, only two people can get through high school without attending extra courses. That is why today I teach extra courses to the kids from my neighborhood, so they can be better prepared.


How important is islam for you?

Aliu: In my family, religion is a very important part of everyday life. We practice islam in our manner.

Ismaili: Religion is something personal.

Lusha: As for me, religion is very important, not because of the tradition, but because of obedience. Based on Albanian history, I would say that Albania is less religious than Kosovo or Macedonia. There is a fact that there are no religious conflicts in Albanian society, since the religious diversity is present and embraced.


Would you marry a Swiss?

Aliu: My life partner is Albanian, I met him during my holidays. My dad always said to me that it is up to me to decide with who I want to spend my life with. But he clearly said that if I fall in love with a Swiss, I would have to deal with the education and religious issues myself.

Lusha: For me, nationality is not important at all.


How do you picture your future? Would you still live in Switzerland?

Ismaili: I don’t know. It is a great priority that we have experienced the lives in both countries.

Lusha: I will surely stay in Switzerland. We can learn so much from Italians. Today, they are integrated. I hope that Albanians will someday be part of Swiss Academia. There are many talents in different Swiss Universities.

Aliu: I cannot say If I will be staying here or not. What I can say about the future is that there will be many opportunities for the next generations. Then, they will not be talking over us, but about us.

* Arbnora Aliu (24) studies pedagogy, Vjosa Ismaili (23) economy, Burim Lusha (25) economy and engineering.