Monthly Archives: May 2015

Jaren Sina is a 21 year old student and basketball player of George Washington University in Washington D.C. Born in Portugal to Albanian parents and raised in New Jersey, USA, Jaren is pursuing his dream of becoming a professional basketball player.

Ben Emelogu and Jaren Sina

Well, as they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Jaren’s father played professional basketball throughout Europe, including France, Italy and Portugal. He made sure to coach Jaren from an early age and teach him the discipline needed to excel in sports.

Previously, Jaren played for Seton Hall University in the BIG EAST Conference. In November 2013, he was named BIG EAST Rookie of the Week and has also been selected as one of the best 100 players by ESPN. He recently transferred to George Washington University to take his game to the next level and get one step closer to his dream of becoming a professional player.

Jaren Sina

Jaren is currently in the process of obtaining Albanian citizenship and is excited at the possibility of representing Albanians in the future. He wants to play either for the NBA or follow his father’s legacy in European basketball clubs. As he continues to practice four to six hours every day, Jaren pursues his ascent to success on the basketball court.

Lis Cena: Kosovo rising

Peja-born, Nushi-raised, New York-based. Lis Cena is Kosovodiaspora’s persona of today.

The following is an exclusive interview with Lis for KosovoDiaspora.

Why architecture?

I have been immersed in architecture for so long; architecture is what I feel and think. I believe in building, and I believe in the power of making. I believe that bricks, stone, wood, concrete, glass, have  a life of their own, and I believe that I can sculpt a expression of this life. Making a house, and making a city are the same exercise for me; they engage an understanding of how we live and what it means to transform this life as we evolve in our complex and rather difficult world. I believe the architect is a master of poetry, painting, sculpture, music and language: I feel a deep passion for each of these disciplines of thought and I cannot imagine them to be separate from one another – for this reason I am an architect.

Where does inspiration come from?

Inspiration comes from within, however, I do not believe inspiration belongs exclusively to the spiritual realm; for me inspiration is borne out of intellect. To be inspired I must engage either my eyes or my ears; a painting, a color, a sound, a building, a conversation. Beauty inspires, but I understand beauty as the expression of the strange and the unusual, the provocative – not the simple, silent and the symmetrical. The beauty of Rosy de Palma is most inspiring to me!

Why teaching?

I feel teaching is an obligation. I was raised by my grandfather, a great teacher and thinker, who instilled in me the thirst and desire for knowledge, as well as an understanding of learning as a way of life. I would not be able to live without a constant cultivation of the mind. I have been very fortunate to study with and be inspired by great teachers, who have helped me realize that my education is a result of conversations, discussions, confrontations and exchanges between cultured and educated minds. In that spirit I continue to fuel this same model of existence as I believe I have much to share with others.

What is natural?

To think out-loud. To talk to yourself. To question, to disagree. To admire and resent. To seek pleasure. To appreciate the absurd. To long for laughter. To feel indignation.

Where is love?

Love is elusive. To understand it means to constantly search for it. I often find it and lose it.

How do you stay sane?

Playing the piano, but, once entranced by the music I make, I dive into a madness of the subconscious. I often feel thirst for this kind of madness. It is an intoxication that to me symbolizes the spiritual sentiment. Music is my spirituality and I find comfort in the pleasures and evocations it provides me.

Is it necessary to be sane?

No! Sanity, or rather the lack of some level of intellectual and emotional discomfort, creates sedentary thinkers. Sanity is the end of culture!

What is God?

God belongs to the power of imagination. It is untouchable and unattainable; it is not spiritual, it is not material – it belongs to that which people do not understand or to that which they refuse to understand. In ancient Egypt it lies beyond our world, and its presence is felt through the sun. In Greek temples it resides beyond the horizon; the temple aligns itself to the horizon to address the vast space between its presence and the people who worship its absence. In medieval cathedrals God is in the echo of our voice reflected from the towering vaults and domes of stone. God is an invention of the poet – architecture, music, painting, sculpture rise from poetry. But god is also the perversion of the ignorant mind: this creates religion, and religion creates a world without poets.

How can we best listen to music?

By suspending our ears somewhere between our minds and our hearts.

Are we here to be or to do?

I don’t see these two modes of existence as mutually exclusive. But I can say with certainty that being without doing does not have any meaning to me.

For more on Lis please check:

Meet Prishtina Developers (PrDev), a start-up founded in 2013 by determined and aspiring young Kosovars aiming to develop more apps for everyday users. Recently, PrDev launched a new game on Android called “Ngjyrat” (eng. Colors) based on the Stroop Effect, which speeds up with every point you score; making the game very competitive and allowing the user to compare scores with players worldwide.

Aiming to develop Mobile and Web apps for businesses and everyday users, PrDev works based on the motto “It’s all about the User.” Currently, the team consists of three people: Drilon Reçica, a mobile application developer (Android, iOS), Kastriot Çunaku, a graphic designer and web developer, and Amra Sezairi, an Android App Developer. Their main areas of expertise are WEB, Mobile App Design and Development, Graphical Design, and Branding.

When asked about the inspiration behind the creation of the newest app “Ngjyrat,” Reçica explained for that the idea came spontaneously; “while working in our office we were kind of bored and thought why not develop our own game, so that we can have some fun when there is free time.” Moreover, he talked about the language choice of the game, – Albanian- stating that they wanted to design and develop a game that “every Albanian whether they know a foreign language or not may be able to play this game.”


In addition to the timed bar that gives the “Correct / Incorrect” options, the user is also presented with the game achievements that one gets after scoring certain amounts of points which are based on everyday funny jokes, and topics that young people are faced with everyday. Therefore, PrDev promises that if you download the game you will certainly have fun.


While, this app is a great way to spend time doing something fun according to PrDev, it could also be a great way to learn and improve your Albanian skills, especially for the foreign audience and young diaspora members.

Summer Courses for the Diaspora

Summer is fast approaching and with it we prepare to greet the Diaspora in their annual homecoming. For the Kosovans who live and work abroad, it is a moment many cherish as an opportunity to reconnect with their hometowns and families.

The Diaspora who come to spend the summer in Kosovo also bring their families. Among them are youths attending universities abroad who hardly, if ever, grew up in Kosovo. Consequently, they may be less enthused with the idea of spending their summer in their parents’ homeland.

It is often expected for these youths to seamlessly integrate in Kosovo despite actually being brought up abroad in countries such as Germany and Switzerland. This can be quite a challenge in terms of having them develop a strong sense of Kosovan identity and getting them to engage with the local culture.

The American University in Kosovo has recognized these challenges and responded by offering the young Diaspora an opportunity to sign up for summer courses that will put them in touch with local peers in Kosovo’s academic scene. The courses are offered during the summer period  from June 1 to July 31, 2015 and are aimed at university level students.

Degree credits are awarded by Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, USA. Signing up for one or several of these courses will certainly keep students busy and engaged during their summer in Kosovo.

The regular summer offerings are:

  • BUSI 205 Managing the Workforce
  • BUSI 221 New Venture Development
  • BUSI 324 Introduction to Logistics and Transportation
  • BUSI 510 Project Management
  • COMM 201 Public Speaking
  • MTSC 111 Interdisciplinary Mathematics I
  • MTSC 211 Introduction to Statistics I
  • POLS 220 Global Political Economy
  • POLS 335 Politics in Developing Countries
  • POLS 345 Politics and Public Policy
  • TCOM 365 Video Production

There is also a Summer Program in Peacebuilding courses:

  • POLS 205: Ethics and International Politics – the course covers topics related to institution-building, journalism and human rights in conflict situations
  • POLS 525: Special Topics in Political Science – the course covers topics related to war, diplomacy and peace in Yugoslavia during the 1990s
  • ECON 448: Development Economics – the course deals with economics and social development in post-conflict societies
  • POLS 525: Special Topics in Political Science – the course covers peacekeeping and conflict transformation in international conflict situations

Furthermore, regional trips are offer which are sure to provide a greater sense of The Balkans:

  • Trip 1: Montenegro, Bosnia, Serbia (June 28 – July 4, 2015)
  • Trip 2: Albania, Greece, Macedonia (June 28 – July 4, 2015)

There are also day trips withing Kosovo; to Prekaz, Prizren, Sharri Mountains, Peja, Decan, Gjakova and more.

For more information on the summer programs offered at AUK and how to register, check out their Summer Program 2015 page.

A Concrete Success Story

The immigration influx of the 1990’s brought a great number of young Kosovars with ideas and ambitions  to Germany. With lawmakers seeing these changes in a positive light, legal barriers to business-doing were quickly removed ,thus enabling businesses to utilize such potential. These changes offered the opportunity for the Viqa brothers to open up their own business.When brothers Nazmi, Gani and Viqa Ilmi came to Germany in 1992, they brought with them a ambition and determination to work. Established in 1994, they established the  AWR Company and initially started with works on ruined structures, reconstruction and recycling.Through work and great discipline, as well as high quality services, the company expanded to all projects in Germany, winning bids from different companies and German institutions. Their large presence in various industrial complexes, airports and numerous workshops in the meantime shows that AWR is among the leading companies in this sector in the whole of Germany. One of the most prestigious projects of the company was breaking 116-meter building at the University of Frankfurt , which was once the tallest building in Frankfurt. About 30,000 people were gathered last year to see this spectacle, which was conducted with high professionalism of the team’s AWR. 

The number of diaspora businesses in Germany is yet to be known, however there have been steps taken towards creating a database and information log, in particular, the establishment of the Union of Kosovo-German businesses in Cologne in October 2013 marks the starting point of a serious attempt at networking the diaspora based businesses in Germany.The Kosovo-German business union has set up regular meetings with Albanian businesses, visiting the in cities where they work, but also their workshops. These meetings serve to share information of general developments, but also for any current project.

AWR GmbH Company is a good example of success and shows that hard work and courage to invest in the realization of ideas pays off.

Football Helped Me Present a Different Side of Albanians to Sweden

Sweden is a rather small country in Scandinavia where more than 9 million people reside. When you mention Sweden to the non-Swedes, they usually ask whether polar bears walk around the Swedish cities on a daily basis. However, the matter of fact is that you have greater chances in meeting an Albanian football player in the Swedish League than getting introduced to a polar bear.

Approximately 40 000 Albanians live in Sweden, leading one to at times forget that one is in Sweden since there is an Albanian around every corner. Unfortunately, Albanians in general have a bad reputation in Sweden. On numerous occasions people refer to me as a Swede just because I am not a troublemaker but rather someone who often raises my voice and reminds everyone that being Albanian does not mean that you come from a criminal family. Of course, do not misunderstand me – I love Sweden. I have been living in this country for more than 20 years. My roots, however, are red and black. Fed up by the negative perceptions, I always wanted to help give Albanians a better image. I never knew how to go about this, however, until an idea came upon me in 2010.

It all began in June 2009, when I was 18 and when I got interested in watching football, after seeing the U21 Euro Cup that hosted by Sweden. Emir Bajrami and Labinot Harbuzi were among the players who represented Sweden, leaving me shocked and wondering when Albanians learned to play football. The experience inspired me to follow other events and the Swedish League (Allsvenskan). I was surprised by the number of Albanians who played in the first league and their presence in the National Team. But, when I spoke of this to my friends, only a few had heard of these Albanian talented young people.

Since I was new to the world of football, I had to work hard to learn everything there is to know about this wonderful game. I stayed up late at night in the library, reading about football and memorizing entire career paths of several Albanian football players, sharing the information with people who had negative perceptions of Albanians. “Did you know that Besart Berisha scored the fastest hat-trick ever (6 minutes) in Australia’s A-League?” was one of my favorite phrases. Since I wanted to have an impact on many other people out there with a negative image of Albanians I began a blog a year after the above mentioned events – Albankollen.

Albankollen means “keeping track of the Albanians” in Swedish. I began by writing a few things I knew but the blog gradually grew and I gained followers from around the whole country. My work was even recognized by Kosovo’s head coach, Albert Bunjaki himself! The former Örebro SK and Kalmar FF assistant coach was impressed by me and called me to help him with the team when Kosovo played its first official friendly game.

Kosovo welcomed Haiti to the field as its first contenders when the home team announced the former Swedish NT assistant coach Tord Grip as Kosovo’s assistant coach. This caught media’s attention even more. However, he was not the only familiar face in the Swedish newspapers.

Kosovo’s NT was led by Anel Rashkaj, a former Halmstads BK player who currently plays in the Norwegian Sandnes Ulf. Lined up alongside him were Ardian Gashi and Loret Sadiku, both playing for Helsigborgs IF at the time. Another Swedish player present was the striker Shpetim Hasani, a player of Örebro SK. The game against Haiti ended in a draw (0-0) and several of the Scandinavian teams welcomed back their players during the spring of 2014.

This was a great event and it helped me a lot in my mission of introducing several players and young talents to Sweden. Apart from the ones I mentioned above, the current Malmö FF player Agon Mehmeti and his former teammate Dardan Rexhepi are both Albanian. In addition, Etrit Berisha, the first goalkeeper of Albania’s National Team, managed to make his way to the Swedish All Start Team last season but left the country to play for Kalmar FF in Lazio shortly before the season ended with Besnik Rustemaj, Liridon Leci and Alban Dragusha accompanying him. Besides these, Valdet Rama played in Örebro SK a few years ago together with Ilir Berisha, Kushtrim Lushtaku and Shpetim Hasani while the 22-year-old Dardan Mustafa in Gefle scored his debut goal in the Swedish League this year. However, he was not the only one to do so. Even Elfsborg’s youngster Arber Zeneli, born in 1995, accomplished the same this season.

The number of Albanians playing football in Sweden is even greater, of course. They helped me achieve my goal of presenting a different image of Albanians to Sweden in these past years. I recently overheard two people on the bus talking about my blog. One of them commented on the number of talented people around the world while the other responded that he has heard about them through my blog – Albankollen. Their conversation made me walk out of the bus with a huge smile on my face my heart full of joy. This inspired me to make a change – I shut down Albankollen last month and began a new era – welcome to the Albanian Eagle Football!

Meet Merita Gashi, Kosovo’s Paris Based Expert

Merita Gashi is Kosovodiaspora’s persona of today. Currently a PhD candidate in Geopolitics at the University of Paris 8, Ms. Gashi is an adviser to the Kosovar government and is in charge of research, analyses and report writing on a wide range of projects. Currently, she is an adviser to the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare and a board member of Riinvest Institute in Kosovo. 

Due to her international outlook and expertise, Merita has been given the task of acting as a liasaon between Kosovar institutions and international bodies in Kosovo for EU integration. Merita has been frequently active in the written press. She has contributed to public discourse in Kosovo while writing columns for the daily newspaper “Zeri” as well as for other notable journals and blogs. In line with her commitment for social activism, Merita has recently been involved as a Member of the Board for Kosovo’s Institute of Peace, a newly established think-tank in Kosovo, which aims to contribute in advancing peace in Kosovo and the wider region. Merita has a long track of engaging with civil society activities in supporting Kosovo’s European path. In her current position, Merita works as an adviser to the Miniser of Labour and Social Welfare Mr.Arban Abrashi through a project of KFOS and UNDP. She is also a board member of Riinvest Institute located in Prishtina, Kosovo. In the past, she has worked for the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning; supporting the establishment of procedures that ensure regular communication and coordination between the Ministry and local governments.

Alongside other significant academic achievements and workshops, Ms. Merita Gashi is known throughout written media for her publications and most notably for her columns  “Ne për veten dhe … të tjerët për ne…” , and works on Kosovar experts studying abroad under the title of Ekspertët e shkolluar jashtë dhe injorimi që iu bëhet në Kosovë, as well as Koha për protestat akademike të studentëve. Merita has demonstrated her capacity to act as an advocate for Kosovo through all of her academic and professional work and looks forward to continuing this work through contributions to the Diaspora.

For more on Merita please click here

By Ermira Babamusta 

An evening with Klement Tinaj opened in New York City, where actor, director and producer Klement Tinaj premiered his latest four short films. The red carpet film premiers with “Helping Hand”, “There Is a Night”, “Escaping The Gang Life”, and “Last Chance” gave a glimpse into the art of film of rising star Klement Tinaj. The special NYC premiere took place on April 12, 2015 at Producers Club Theater, a favorite locale in the heart of the Theatre District, steps away from Times Square. Actor Praq Rado, Klement Tinaj and John Blenn (actor, writer, director and producer) arrived on the red carpet and posed for the photographers after watching the films.

Klement Tinaj and Lin Zhao

“I think all four movies that premiered at Producers Club were written, performed and directed very well. You can see Klement Tinaj surprise the audience with the different film genres in each movie. Great acting as well! Klement has a great future in the movie business and I wish him all the best,” said Praq Rado, lead actor of “Dreaming American” and host of the New York premiere.

“Facebook needs a “Love” button right next to the “Like” button, because there was a lot of love in the room for my friend Klement Tinaj that night. All I have to say is that the BEST IS YET TO COME! I am so happy and filled up with energy now from the NYC people that IDK what I am going to do after the show,” said Antonio Pertuz, martial artist, artistic designer, and owner of Latination Designs Studio.

Klement Tinaj has created some of the most incredible character portrayals in cinema and theatre history. Starring in over twenty films that include big Hollywood productions  such as “Fast & Furious” starring Paul Walker and Van Diesel, “The Second Coming of Christ” directed by Daniel Anghelcev, and “4Got10” starring Dolph Lundgren and Danny Trejo.

The special NY film premiere aired “Helping Hand” (2015), a great film with a powerful story, directed by Lin Zhao, written by George Mcgrath and Klement Tinaj. The short drama tells the story of how a homeless woman inspires a hard-hearted man to help others. The film is produced by Alice Lee, cinematography by Hertz Zhang, with music by Jaden Hwang, starring Klement Tinaj, Melissa Carvajal, Kayla Eva, Tariq Issa, Edgar Roche, Roman Xing, etc.

Twenty Days

The writer and the star of “Helping Hand”, Klement Tinaj says his inspiration for the script came from a heartbreaking story he witnessed:  “The film is about love vs. power. While I was giving out food and drinks to homeless for my foundation in Downtown Los Angeles, I saw a rich guy pulling up with a luxury car in front of his store; he passed by the homeless person who was begging him for a dollar and he slams the store door on him. That was heartbreaking. After talking with a few homeless people, listening to their stories how they get treated, I went home and I wrote Helping Hand. It’s a heartbreaking story. I wanted to make a compelling film to show people how the homeless are mistreated in society today and how love can make the difference. That’s the beauty of art.”

“Escaping the Gang Life” (2014) is an action film written and directed by Klement Tinaj, produced by Dave Leon, Leandro Simozza, and Roman Xing, with cinematography by Aloaye Melvin Omoake. The short has great action sequence featuring Klement Tinaj, Kayla Eva, Dave Leon, Selena O’Sullivan, Adam Ohl, Laura Ollikainen, Kathleen Roy, Leandro Simmozza, Vakhtang Tkhelidze and Roman Xing. “There is a lot of fights and killing throughout the film. Especially, when Luan murders Al’s brother and decides to escape from the gangs. By the end of the film the gang members attack Luan’s family and now Luan is looking for them to take revenge,” said writer, director Klement Tinaj.

“Action and horror films are my favorite genre at all time. I also realize those kind of films are the one that will draw the audience internationally and all the people in the world will understand violence and fear. I like to tell a story in a much visual way then dialogue and it fits into those two genres really well,” said Lin Zhao director of “Helping Hand”, “There is a night” and “Last Chance”.

“Last Chance” was audience’s favorite film. The audience walked out of the theater speechless after the premiere of Last Chance because the film was unpredictable. “I always like to surprise my fans. The story, action, and the shots were on point. You can feel the pain of Leo. It feels almost like you are going through the pain with him while you are watching the movie. The action and the acting was another bonus for the film,” stated Klement Tinaj, writer and producer of “Last Chance”.

“Last Chance” (2015) is an action film directed by Lin Zhao, written by Klement Tinaj, produced by Klement Tinaj, Lenadro Simozza and Roman Xing, with cinematography by Alister Conway. Klement Tinaj is also the Stunt Coordinator for “Last Chance”.  The short featured Klement Tinaj, Robert Factor, Jean Hyppolite, Paula Meilli, Adam Ohl and Shawn Roth.

“There is a night” (2014) is produced, directed and written by Lin Zhao, a short action film that was shown at the special April 12 NY premiere, starring Cristy Fuentevilla, Jean Hyppolite, Adam Ohl, Klement Tinaj, with cinematography by Alvaro Ortega.

“It has been a pleasure working with Klement, not only because he is great and passionate about what he is doing, but he can always bring you something new in a creative way. Me and him are very alike in some way, we both like to go off the wall, to think outside the box. He takes direction really well and he knows how to handle stress on set. Overall I enjoy working with Klement Tinaj,” said director Lin Zhao.

The LA Red Carpet Premiere of “Last Chance” is scheduled for May 24, 2015 at 7:30 pm at the Secret Rose Theater, in Los Angeles, California, followed by Q&A with director Lin Zhao, lead actor, producer and writer Klement Tinaj and the cast of the film.

“Twenty Days,” an original two-act play written and direct by Klement Tinaj also premiers the same day, May 24, 2014 at 8:00 pm at Secret Rose Theatre in North Hollywood. “Twenty Days is a play which will take the audience on a journey to a by-gone era. The play is an unconditional love story about a young couple that tries to make an honest living in the middle class society. That unconditional love is torn apart by infidelity, and heartbreaking news that changes Adolfo and Adriana lives forever” (

Kosovo Paving the Way in the World of Basketball

The sound of balls bouncing on Kosovo’s concrete grounds resounds ever more loudly as Kosovo paves its way in the world of basketball. Everything began in 2008, shortly after Kosovo’s independence day. Kosovo had barely swept away the confetti from Prishtina’s streets after celebrating the Independence Day when FIBA’s (International Basketball Federation) delegation visited the country. The topic was Kosovo’s chances of becoming a FIBA member. However, despite impressing the delegation, Kosovo’s application was put on hold.

KB Prishtina

Nevertheless, this was not the end of the story. The Balkan International Basketball League was introduced that same year and the hosting country – Kosovo, made its debut last season (2013/2014) with two of its teams participating in the tournament. The teams came from Pristina and from Peja. Pristina did exceptionally well. It played against and unfortunately failed to beat Hapoel Gilboa Galil as one of the final four teams left to compete. Since the competition was extremely difficult, Pristina lost once again in its game against the Bulgarian Balkan Botevgrad while competing for the third place. However, the fighting spirit and positive energy of the team were visible throughout the tournament.

Friday the 13th 2015, seven years after sending in the application, Kosovo were granted a full membership to FIBA. FIBA announced the news on their official website. This in turn, pushed Kosovo another step in the right direction since it meant that Kosovo will finally be able to participate in bigger tournaments.

Kosovo justified the trust but in them. KB Sigal Pristina made history as it won against BC Rilski Sportist 165-147 and was crowned as the Balkan League Champion. Since the team from Peja played extremely well, a curios turn of events occurred. Namely, Pristina almost faced Peja in the final match. However, Rilski, the team that eliminated Peja in the semi-finals and ended up losing to Pristina, avoided this. Moreover, Prishtina’s Dardan Berisha was voted as the Most Valuable Player and Balkan League’s Player of the year. Berisha recently left Poland’s national team to join Kosovo. Pristina’s historical win was celebrated all over the country and when the heroes returned about thousands of people had gathered in Pristina to welcome them home.

Kosovo has, thus, shown FIBA that they made the right decision by granting them membership. The next big challenge is the U16 Euro Championship when the U16 teams will introduce themselves and where U16 is lined up against Andorra, Malta and San Marino in the first round. The tournament is being hosted in San Marino from July 6th onwards. That same week, the U20 team will play against Portugal, Luxembourg, Montenegro and Georgia in the Eurobasket U20 preliminary round.