Category Archives: LEARN

Labbox, Kosovo edtech startup teaching kids engineering, is looking to expand beyond the Balkans

For more than two years, edtech startup Labbox Education has been bringing science, electronics, and computer engineering closer to children across Kosovo, through fun and interactive ways that encourage thinking and finding new and innovative solutions for various challenges.

According to the startup’s founder Arta Zaimi, who has already founded a coding academy in Kosovo and also has extensive experience in programming and electronics, the idea about the company originated while she was searching for a solution that would solve both the difficulty of teaching and understanding the complex scientific fields. 

Enjoying the magic of creation

“Labbox aims to expose children to real-world electronics and engineering as early as possible. Based on our testing and general pedagogical advice related to child development, the best age to start exposing children to technology from a creator’s perspective is age 8. This is the time when their mathematical thinking is developing strongly and children have a grasp of the basic math functions, which if compared to how electronics work, are similar in difficulty,” Zaimi tells The Recursive.

“By learning and practicing engineering activities, kids not only start to enjoy the magic of creation, but they also develop crucial skills in the process. That form of thinking takes children a long way in life,” Zaimi points out.

Arta Zaimi combines more than nine years of experience developing complex systems for bank and enterprise use, as well as more than four years of experience in the field of education.

The main concept behind the startup’s products is using STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education. Every month, kids that are using Labbox are getting boxes with new STEM projects and engineering tasks, through which they learn to understand ‘Why’ and ‘How’ things work. 

Expansion plans

While public schools in Kosovo have already started using Labbox’s curriculum, now the company is looking to expand on foreign markets as well.

In 2018, Labbox received joint-equity financing from the EBRD and the EU through the Western Balkan Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility (WBEDIF). Labbox is also a Techstars portfolio company, accelerated from Techstars Berlin in the first quarter of 2021.

This year, Zaimi and Labbox will also be featured in the Romanian investment platform SeedBlink. For Zaimi, this cooperation means that the startup will also gain more exposure and visibility.

“As Labbox is growing beyond the borders of the Balkans, and with the demand, we are seeing from European countries, we felt it is the right time for a crowdfunding round. We decided to share the opportunity of investment with smaller investors that usually don’t have the chance to invest in a startup at this stage,” Zaimi tells The Recursive.

“We also would like to give the opportunity to high-value individuals who are also parents, as we believe that the best supporters and investors we can have with us are those that will be our customers,” she adds. 

At the moment, with an investment of €300K the company has set up its own production line in Kosovo. And Zaimi points out that there is room for growth.

“There is an amazing opportunity for growth for Labbox and due to the economics that we are seeing and the market performance, I think the business is basically a no-brainer,” Zaimi explained during the SeedBlink presentation earlier this month.

“The other reason is, especially for those that understand the importance of our mission and the value proposition, I think that there is an opportunity to take joy in helping our world develop in the right direction and opening the minds of those that will hold our future,” Zaimi concludes.

This article was first published at The Recursive – an independent community-born online media focused on the emerging tech and startup ecosystems in Southeast Europe (SEE).

OH, THOSE SUMMERS IN KOSOVO

REFLECTIONS FROM THE DIASPORA ON SUMMER VISITS BACK HOME.

Every summer we left at different times. Sometimes at dawn, sometimes in the evening just after dinner, sometimes at midnight. No matter what time it was, the only thing that really mattered was the direction: Kosovo.

Every year we were enraptured by this magic that made us forget the length of the journey, one that sometimes took up to 36 hours. Endless waiting at the borders, nights spent trying to sleep in the car, everyone sitting in their own seat. One summer, having grown, my legs needed more space, so I slept on the ground in a parking space next to the car. I did it with pleasure. We did everything with pleasure because the only thing that mattered to us was to get to Kosovo as fast as possible.

I grew up near Milan, in Italy, and just getting to Trieste at the border with Slovenia would have been enough of a journey. 500 kilometers is a long way. But that was only the beginning.

Once we entered Slovenia everything tasted different. The language changed, the signs on the road were different and my mind was filled with anticipation. Then came Croatia and that endless coastal stretch before leaving the highway and entering Montenegro. 

Driving through the mountains of Montenegro we tried to eat up as many kilometers as possible. These mountains were the point when happiness began to take a concrete shape, even if there was still a long way to go. And so, as we toured those mountains, I began to imagine what that summer in Kosovo would bring. 

The football matches with my cousins and my friends, the evenings playing hide and seek, all the delicacies I would eat every time I visited a relative. I would lean my head against the window, smile and ask mum and dad to confirm that we weren’t far away. 

“Almost there, almost there,” they would say. 

After Montenegro, a slice of Albania, with just enough time to enjoy our language, and then finally Kosovo, where we immediately went off to visit uncles and cousins. Their happiness to see us and ours at finding them. My joy at people pronouncing my name correctly and the excitement about the next month of fun.

ONLY DURING THAT MONTH, ONCE A YEAR, DID I SEE MY PARENTS HAPPY.

And so began the most wonderful time of the year, the one we had been anticipating for 11 months. Sometimes I think that the life of an immigrant is just that, survival in the country where she/he has decided to go, just waiting for the moment of the year to go back home. Especially if she/he is as lucky as we were, being able to afford going home to Kosovo every summer. And after all, it was not so far away. 

Only during that month, once a year, did I see my parents happy. I have never seen them smiling like that, except in Kosovo. I never saw them so relaxed, so full of life. I saw them living and breathing properly during those summers. But they could do it only one month out of 12, and believe me, that’s not enough for a person. 

As a child I didn’t understand, but as I grow older, I am starting to get what it meant to live as they lived, and how fundamental those summers were for my parents. How crucial for their health it was to go back and see their parents, siblings, relatives and friends. To touch, smell and breathe what used to be their life.

But those summers were also important for me. They meant freedom, running in the country fields, climbing trees, playing football until dark, being with my cousins, hugging my grandparents and having someone of my own to share my life with, even if only for one month a year. 

Growing up abroad, you’re rarely lucky enough to have a few relatives by your side. You see your friends going to their aunts, uncles and grandparents, celebrating birthdays and holidays with houses full of relatives, and you know that you will have to wait until summer to enjoy just a small part of it. 

But most of all, now I can say how crucial those summers were in shaping my identity, and in helping me understand parts of myself and who I am. This is especially true after having decided not to go back for several years, a decision that I do not regret at all. I might be wrong, but to understand what something means to you, you have to deprive yourself of it and see if you can live without it. It may sound incoherent and weird, but the less I went back, the more I felt I belonged there. 

The real sign of what those summers meant to us are all the tears we cried. We cried when we arrived, our happiness was enormous and our bodies could not contain it. And then we cried even more when it was time to say goodbye. I was always the first one to start, both as a child and a teenager, and then everyone followed behind me. 

The sadness I felt was too strong. I didn’t want to leave, for any reason in the world. I didn’t want to go back to Italy, I wanted to stay and play with my cousins and be around people who pronounced my name correctly. 

Every summer I would tell mum that I wasn’t going to go back to Italy, I would ask my aunts if they were okay with having an extra child. Every summer I tried to come up with a plan to hide somewhere. One summer I thought of disappearing into the fields, I thought that they would never find me, that they would get tired of looking for me and go back to Italy. 

I was so sad in the days before returning to Italy that I could hardly wake up in the morning. I started crying days before the return and tried to hide away, like I’m doing now; I’ve been crying since I started writing this piece and luckily there’s no one at home to see me.

I miss those sensations, those smells and that magic that took shape in those summers. I didn’t grow up waiting for Santa Claus, as my Italian friends did; instead of Santa Claus I had that highly anticipated journey home each summer.

IN 28 YEARS OF LIFE, NOTHING HAS MADE ME AS HAPPY AS THOSE YEARLY SUMMER RETURNS TO KOSOVO.

I have a feeling that the concept of happiness for a person changes as they grow. You focus much more on yourself and personal goals become your highest aspiration. You become happy when you get a good grade at university, or get a job, or date someone you like. Yet I have the distinct feeling that the happiness I felt during those summers in Kosovo will forever be the highest point. 

I miss feeling that explosion of joy in my heart, I miss living through that 11 months of anticipation, knowing that happiness would arrive in August. I don’t think happiness as an adult can be compared to what we experienced as children. No matter how lucky one may be to have the opportunity to achieve remarkable personal goals, to have a person to love and enjoy good health, nothing compares to the joy one experiences as a child. 

In 28 years of life, nothing has made me as happy as those yearly summer returns to Kosovo. Even though I’ve been lucky to have a wonderful life so far, in the end I think it’s okay for this to be the case, because Kosovo is where I was born and people say that the attraction of your homeland is the strongest thing you will ever experience.

I would just like to go back for a couple of days and relive those moments, when my life, looking back at it now, was so simple. I was constantly waiting for that journey, because Kosovo represented my idea of happiness and I didn’t need anything else. 

At the same time I’m so proud and happy to be able to write about those moments, about the fact that the happiest moments of my life were related to my roots and the place where I was born. Is there anything better? I don’t think so.

Feature image: Arrita Katona / K2.0.

This article was first published at Kosovo 2.0 

GERMIN Launches ShqipShop: Handcrafted Products from Albanian Artisans Online

GERMIN has launched a new platform called ShqipShop that brings together artisanal crafts and patriotic home-goods sourced from producers around Albania and Kosovo.

ShqipShop provides our large Albanian Diaspora with the opportunity to buy traditional Albanian handicraft products no matter where they live; and gives Albanian artisans the chance to reach a wider market to sell their products, thus increasing their revenues and providing them with more opportunities to develop their skills. Shqip Shop aims to serve as a platform that provides space and access especially for local artisans – those who do not have visibility and access to online markets to promote their carefully handcrafted, authentic highly valuable products. 

Your purchases on Shqip Shop will show your love for your people, as the money you spend will provide income for small producers and further development of their skills. This support is particularly critical given the negative economic impact of COVID-19 over the past year.

Among the products listed in ShqipShop you can find folk costumes, traditional instruments, art and home goods, books, etc. For those of you who want to know more and get acquainted with the creators behind these special products, please visit shqipshop.org/pages/meet-the-aritisans and read the stories of all of the artisans.

Through Shqip Shop you are one step closer to the homeland.

Pyetjet më të Shpeshta: Votimi nga Diaspora

1. Cilat zgjedhje do të mbahen sivjet në Republikën e Kosovës?

  • Më 14 shkurt 2021 do të mbahen Zgjedhjet e parakohshme për Kuvendin e Republikës së Kosovës.

2. Kur fillon periudha e aplikimit për tu regjistruar si votues jashtë Kosovës?

  • Periudha e aplikimit për tu regjistruar si votues jashtë Kosovës fillon me datën 13 janar 2021 dhe përfundon me datën 21 janar 2021, në orën 18:00, sipas kohës lokale në Kosovë.
    KUJDES! Nëse ju dërgoni aplikacion për regjistrim me datën 21 janar 2021 pas orës 18:00, aplikacioni i juaj për regjistrim nuk do të shqyrtohet.

3. Unë jam interesuar për të aplikuar për regjistrim të votues jashtë Kosovës, dhe si mund ta dërgoj formularin e aplikimit për regjistrim?

Ju mund të aplikoni për tu regjistruar, sipas tri mundësive që i ofron KQZ‐ja, sipas Ligjit dhe rregullës zgjedhore, e të cilat janë:

  1. Duke dërguar aplikacionin për regjistrim të plotësuar dhe nënshkruar me kopjet e dokumenteve të nevojshme, përmes e‐mailit, në njërën nga këta e‐maila: [email protected]‐ks.org; ose [email protected]‐ ks.org, ose [email protected]‐ks.org; ose
  2. Duke dërguar aplikacionin për regjistrim të plotësuar dhe nënshkruar me kopjet e dokumenteve të nevojshme, përmes faksit, në numrin e telefonit +383 (0) 38 213 200, ose
  3. Duke dërguar aplikacionin për regjistrim të plotësuar dhe nënshkruar me kopjet e dokumenteve të nevojshme, përmes postës, në adresën e më poshtme:

Komisioni Qendror i Zgjedhjeve Votimi Përmes Postës Posta 6, kutia postare 351 10 000 Prishtinë Republika e Kosovës

4. Për sa persona mund të aplikoj për tu regjistruar si votues jashtë Kosovës?

  1. Për një e‐mail adrese, ju mund të aplikoni për tu regjistruar për vetëm rrethin e ngushtë familjarë, që keni të njëjtin mbiemër. KUJDES! Nëse ju dërgoni aplikacione për regjistrim për persona që kanë mbiemra të ndryshëm, aplikacionet nuk do të shqyrtohen.
  2. Po ashtu, nëse aplikoni për tu regjistruar, duke dërguar aplikacione përmes faksit, ose përmes postës, do të vlejë rregulli si në pikën (1).
  3. KQZ‐ja do të verifikoj procesin e regjistrimi, duke iu kontaktuar të gjithë aplikuesit përmes telefonit. NËSE aplikuesi nuk lajmërohet në telefon, atëherë aplikacioni i juaj do të refuzohet. Secili prej aplikuesve, duhet ta ketë në formular numrin personal të telefonit.

5. Nëse kam aplikuar suksesshëm për tu regjistruar si votues jashtë Kosovës në Zgjedhjet e vitit 2019, cilat dokumente duhet t’i dërgoj për tu regjistruar si votues në listën e votuesve jashtë Kosovës në Zgjedhjet për Kuvendin që mbahen me datën 14 shkurt 2021?

Po, ju keni të drejtë. Në këtë rast nevojitet që ju t’i dërgoni këto dokumente:

  1. (Formularin e aplikimit për regjistrim I) të plotësuar dhe nënshkruar,
  2. Kopjen e dokumentit të vlefshëm identifikues të Republikës së Kosovës (letërnjoftim i vlefshëm, ose pasaportë të vlefshme, ose patent shofer i vlefshëm). ‐ NËSE nuk posedoni dokumente të vlefshme si në pikën (2) mjafton që ju ta dërgoni edhe një kopje të vlefshme të dokumentit identifikues me foto të shtetit ku jetoni, për shkak se në zgjedhjet e fundit ju keni dëshmuar kriterin e zotësisë juridike, ndërsa për zgjedhjet që mbahen me datën 14 shkurt 2021, mjafton që ta dëshmoni vetëm identitetin.

6. Nëse jam shtetas i Republikës së Kosovës, dhe regjistrohem suksesshëm për të votuar përmes postës, a kam të drejtë që të votoj në Kosovë, në vendvotim brenda Kosovës, në ditën e zgjedhjeve me datën 14 shkurt 2021?

Jo, nuk keni të drejtë.
‐ Bazuar në Rregullën Zgjedhore Nr. 03/ 2013 Votimi jashtë Kosovës, sipas neni 3.8, nëse ju keni aplikuar suksesshëm për tu regjistruar si votues nga jashtë Kosovës, dhe jeni shtetas i Kosovës, i regjistruar në regjistrin qendror civil, emri i juaj do të largohet nga lista përfundimtare e votuesve që përdoret brenda Kosovës në vendvotime. Në këtë rast, ju nuk do të keni mundësi që të votoni në vendvotimin brenda Kosovës, nëse me datën 14 shkurt 2021, do të jeni në Kosovë.

7. Nëse jam shtetas i Republikës së Kosovës dhe jetoj jashtë Kosovës, dhe posedoj dokumente të vlefshme të Republikës së Kosovës, a kam të drejtë që të votoj përmes postës?

Po, ju keni të drejtë. Në këtë rast nevojitet që ju t’i dërgoni këto dokumente:

  1. (Formularin e aplikimit për regjistrim I) të plotësuar dhe nënshkruar,
  2. Kopjen e dokumentit të vlefshëm identifikues të Republikës së Kosovës (letërnjoftim i vlefshëm, ose pasaportë të vlefshme, ose patent shofer i vlefshëm).
    KUJDES! nëse dokumentit të identifikimit të Republikës së Kosovës, i ka skaduar afati i vlefshmërisë, në këtë rast ju duhet ta dërgoni edhe një kopje të vlefshme të identifikimit të shtetit ku jetoni.

8. Unë nuk posedoj dokumente të identifikimit të Republikës së Kosovës, a kam të drejtë që me dokument identifikimi të lëshuar nga UNMIK‐u të regjistrohem që të votojë përmes postës?

Po, ju keni të drejtë. Nëse ju posedoni dokumente identifikimi të lëshuara nga UNMIK‐u (letërnjoftim, pasaportë, patent shofer) të cilat nuk janë valide, ju mund të regjistroheni për të votuar përmes postës. Në këtë rast, ju duhet t’i dërgoni këto dokumente:

  • (Formularin e aplikimit për regjistrim II) të plotësuar dhe nënshkruar,
  • Kopjen e dokumentit të UNMIK‐ut (letërnjoftimin, ose pasaportën, ose patentshoferin), dhe
  • Një kopje të dokumentit identifikues të vlefshëm me fotografi të shtetit ku jetoni.

9. Unë nuk posedoj asnjë dokument të identifikimit të Republikës së Kosovës, dhe asnjë dokument të identifikimit të lëshuar nga UNMIK‐u. A kam të drejtë që të regjistrohem që të votojë përmes postës?

Po, ju keni të drejtë. Nëse nuk posedoni dokumente të identifikimit të lëshuar nga Republika e Kosovës, dhe dokumente të identifikimit të lëshuar nga UNMIK‐u, ju mund të regjistroheni që të votoni përmes postës, duke i dërguar kopjet e këtyre dokumenteve:

  • (Formularin e aplikimit për regjistrim II) të plotësuar dhe nënshkruar,
  • Kopjen e certifikatës së lindjes e lëshuar nga Republika e Kosovës, ose që është lëshuar nga UNMIK‐ut. NËSE nuk e keni këtë dokument, ju mund ta dërgoni kopjen e certifikatës së martesës, ose kopjen e bashkësisë familjare, që është lëshuar po ashtu nga Republika e Kosovës, ose UNMIK‐ut, ku në këto dokumente shkruan vendi i lindjes në Kosovë, dhe
  • Një kopje të dokumentit identifikues të vlefshëm me fotografi të shtetit ku jetoni.

10. Unë nuk posedoj asnjë dokument të identifikimit të Republikës së Kosovës, asnjë dokument të identifikimit të lëshuar nga UNMIK‐u, dhe as certifikatë të lindjes, martesës apo bashkësisë familjare të lëshuara nga Republika e Kosovës dhe UNMIK‐ut. A kam të drejtë që të regjistrohem që të votojë përmes postës?

Po, ju keni të drejtë. Nëse nuk i posedoni dokumentet sikurse në pyetjen numër 10, ju mund të regjistroheni suksesshëm për të votuar përmes postës, duke dërguar këto dokumente, si më poshtë:

  1. (Formularin e aplikimit për regjistrim II) të plotësuar dhe nënshkruar,
  2. Dokumentet e lëshuara nga administrata e ish – Jugosllavisë, ku data e lëshimit të këtyre dokumenteve duhet të jetë jo më vonë se data 10 qershor 1999, për këto dokumente si: ‐ letërnjoftim, ose ‐ pasaportë, ose ‐ patent shofer, ose ‐ certifikatë të lindjes, ose ‐ certifikatë të martesës apo bashkësisë familjare (ku theksohet se ju keni lindur në Kosovë), dhe
  3. Një kopje të dokumentit identifikues të vlefshëm me fotografi të shtetit ku jetoni.

11. Nëse nuk posedoj asnjë dokument të lëshuar nga Republika e Kosovës, as nga UNMIK‐u, dhe as nga administrata e ish – Jugosllavisë, a mund të regjistrohem që të votojë përmes postës?

Po, ju keni të drejtë. Nëse nuk i posedoni dokumentet sikurse në pyetjen numër 11, ju mund të regjistroheni suksesshëm për të votuar përmes postës:

NËSE: Njëri prind i juaji është shtetas i Republikës së Kosovës, në këtë rast ju duhet t’i dërgoni këto dokumente:

  1. (Formularin e aplikimit për regjistrim II) të plotësuar dhe nënshkruar,
  2. Një kopje të dokumentit tuaj identifikues të vlefshëm me fotografi të shtetit ku jetoni,
  3. Kopjen e dokumenteve të lëshuara nga Republika e Kosovës, si: letërnjoftim, ose pasaportë, ose patent shofer, të prindit tuaj, dhe
  4. Një kopje të dokumentin, si certifikatë e lindjes së shtetit ku jetoni, ose certifikatë familjare, ku në këto dokumente dëshmohet emri i prindit tuaj, për të cilin e keni kopjen e dokumentit të Republikës së Kosovës.

NËSE: Njëri prind i juaji ka lindur në Kosovë, por nuk është shtetas i Kosovës, në këtë rast ju duhet t’i dërgoni këto dokumente:

  1. (Formularin e aplikimit për regjistrim II) të plotësuar dhe nënshkruar,
  2. Një kopje të dokumentit tuaj identifikues të vlefshëm me fotografi të shtetit ku jetoni,
  3. Njërën nga kopjet e këtyre dokumenteve me të cilat vërtetohet si prindi i juaj ka lindur në Kosovë:
    ‐ Certifikatë e lindjes, e lëshuar nga Republika e Kosovës, ose UNMIK‐u
    ‐ Certifikatë e martesës, certifikatë e bashkësisë familjare e lëshuar nga Republika e Kosovës, ose UNMIK‐u, ku në këto dokumente theksohet se prindi i juaj ka lindur në Kosovë
    ‐ Letërnjoftim, pasaportë, patent shofer, certifikatë të lindjes, certifikatë të martesës, ose certifikatë të bashkësisë familjare, që janë lëshuar nga administrata e ish – Jugosllavisë, ku data e lëshimit duhet të jetë jo më vonë se 10 qershor 1999.

12. Në formularin nr. 2 kërkohet numri amëz, mirëpo unë nuk e di/kam. A mund ta lë të zbrazët këtë hapësirë?

Po, mund ta leni të zbrazët nëse i keni plotësuar pjesët tjera dhe keni bashkangjitur dokumentacionin e kërkuar.

Mentorship Program for Kosovar Students

There is so much potential that students who live in Kosovo have. There is a lot of talent that needs to be nurtured and guided. The lack of access to platforms where they can channel their potential and achieve personal development is a huge barrier to them. But why does this only remain rhetoric? Why are so few Kosovar students achieving their dreams and goals? After racking my brain for an answer, I realized that the root of the problem was not the students themselves, but rather the lack of opportunities that are presented to these students. 

Upon attending the sixth form in the United Kingdom, I have noticed a large amount of differences between the schemes and programs available to students in the UK and in Kosovo. In the UK, we have various career meetings, opportunities to talk to professionals about their careers, we get chances to visit workplaces that we might be interested in, and weekly exposure to various different challenges and schemes. However, I have recently become aware that a large majority of schools in Kosovo do not have these opportunities. Economic difficulties may prove to be barriers for such programs, however, I’ve started my own initiative to give students who are interested in STEM a chance to a virtual network with professionals for free.  

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) are such important career paths for the development of humans but also for the development of a fledgling country like Kosovo. These careers contribute towards the formation of a better society, for example, medicine helps medicate ill patients and technology improves the methods of living by making processes more efficient. After witnessing the lack of support for students in Kosovo to achieve a STEM career, I decided to take matters into my own hands, and create a mentoring opportunity for these students. Kosovar-Albanian students who have an interest in STEM have the opportunity to sign up for a mentoring scheme that partners any interested student with a professional or researcher from their field of choice. After the coordination of dates and times, the student and mentor will be able to participate in one-hour weekly Zoom calls, in which the mentor will be able to explain the pathways for entering their career, and any other relevant information that the student might need. The program is three weeks long and has begun on August 3rd, and any interested students can sign up by clicking the link and filling out the form. (https://forms.gle/Tg4yHrR813bugpsN9)  

I am very lucky to be a part of the Kosovo diaspora in the UK, because I am aware that I have opportunities here which youngsters in Kosovo most likely don’t have. Not only do I have the possibility to encourage positive change in Kosovo by voicing my opinions here in the UK and abroad, but I also have the chance to gain support from a wider variety of people here in the UK and promote awareness of a lack of opportunities for Kosovar students. I aim to use my power to create a positive environment in terms of career development for students in Kosovo because going into STEM requires students to have a lot of knowledge about the subject. Making informed decisions in terms of a career and commitments is also a key aspect to having a successful career, so I hope that this program provides these students with the right amount of knowledge, and to have any questions answered about their future. No student should be left without support, and this is what I hope to promote through the creation of this mentoring program. 

– 

My name is Ideja Bajra, and I am a 16-year-old currently living in the UK. Since the age of 7, I have aspired to become a scientist, and I wish to fulfill that dream by studying biochemistry at university, focusing on the importance of protein structure for the function of proteins in the human body.  

It has always been a particular passion of mine to encourage more youth into STEM, therefore, I have created a non-profit, ‘Based In Science’, that aims to encourage more of the youth in the UK and Kosovo into STEM-related careers. As part of the non-profit, I will be offering free activities, events, and opportunities to students interested in STEM who are from the UK and Kosovo. Aside from organizing a non-profit, I am a student at Drapers’ Academy Sixth Form in the UK, studying Biology, Chemistry, and Physics for A Levels.  

In my spare time, I enjoy reading and writing and am currently writing a book about the contribution of the 21st-century female biochemists to the field of biochemistry, and the major scientific developments that have occurred in the last 50 years. I also co-authored a featured article about BAME women in STEM for the Biochemist magazine, as well as having written a book review for the Biochemist. As the Ambassador for Biochemistry at the Young Scientists’ Journal, I regularly write articles and interviews for the journal, to promote a love for science and to encourage more people into biochemistry careers.

Covid-19: Interview with Dr. Marsela Ceno, Leader of the Association of Albanian Doctors in Germany

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty and instability in its management in terms of health, even in the most powerful states, all this due to its extremely rapid and widespread. This rate of spread of infection has taken many developed countries unprepared by not having sufficient capacity in hospitals to treat all infected patients. Given the situation created, we considered it very important to conduct an interview with Mrs. Marsela Ceno who leads the Association of Albanian Doctors in Germany, in order to provide lessons and information on how Germany as a developed country has managed the situation with Covid-19, as well as what we (Kosovo and Albania) should do as countries developing, that we have limited capacity compared to a developed country such as Germany.

KD: Could you tell us about the situation in Germany regarding the Covid-19?

Dr. Marsela Ceno:Well, the situation here in Germany can be said to be under control, of course, the number of those affected is increasing, especially those who return from vacation, but here the health system has shown stability, even in the pursuit of people who are confirmed as affected or in finding persons who have been in contact with the latter. Tracing is a very important process in Germany as well as mass testing, so a map is created of people who are affected, and those who have had contact, then self-isolation is required for 14 days until the onset of symptoms. You should also know that the health system has very large capacities, so even if a significant number of patients go to the family doctor or are in serious health condition and need intensive therapy, the capacities in Germany are very large, so at the moment the situation is under control and the trust that the Germans have in the health system of their state made them experience the situation without the panic that characterized it at the beginning of this pandemic.


KD:As you may know, in Kosovo and Albania, in recent days and weeks there has been an increase in the number of people infected with COVID-19. What do you think are the main reasons for such a thing?


Dr. Marsela Ceno: I think the reasons are several. The pandemic in Europe has reached Italy probably since December, while it became official in March. Even the Balkan countries, here referring to Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania suffered a very heavy lockdown and very large restrictive measures, and this was different from the reality we experienced in Germany. It is true that in Germany most of the public services, schools and kindergartens were closed, but life in a way “continued normally”, so there was no curfew. The person who went to work if he was not obliged to do home office, leaving the house was not forbidden, going to the markets also, so there was no closure of life, complete isolation of life and this made the wave of spread of the disease to be not in the highest numbers, but to be continuous, while in our countries both in Albania and in Kosovo perhaps the lockdown caused the postponement of the spread of the disease in the population. Then with regret, I want to point out a phenomenon, which I have actually followed through the constant contact I have with my family in Tirana, but also through my short visit I had in Albania a month ago, and the awareness of the general population, at least until recent weeks has been very small. There have been people who questioned the existence of this virus, and by not really appreciating the importance of the situation they also showed negligence, either in respecting the distance or also wearing the mask, so it is unfortunate, in a way irresponsible or the easy taking of the situation by a large number of the population, caused that by not observing the necessary measures, the spread of the virus increases in the months or year we are observing. Then we must take into account the regulation of movement between countries, so we who came from Germany to Albania, and also the possibility of movement from the Balkans to European countries, certainly increases the risk of spreading the virus. I say the reasons are multifactorial and I believe the time has come for us to reflect on each of these reasons together so that the pandemic passes as easily as possible.


KD: It has been emphasized many times that citizens are neglecting the danger of the virus, maybe this fact needs research…


Dr. Marsela Ceno: I think those coercive measures are in fact against the instinct of every human being because the main principle of every human being is to be free, free in living daily life. So indeed the figures of the countries we had at the border like Italy with a very large number of deaths per day made it a little easier psychologically for people to accept the lockdown when in fact the figures of the persons affected or those who had lost their lives were not dramatic so it was a precaution which people because of the danger they thought might come easily accepted, but seeing that the level of those affected fortunately remained very low, then people believed that all this great measure of restraint, prevention was probably not necessary, so for this reason, some thought it was just a game or it was a lie or it was a conspiracy theory, so they thought it would not find them which the danger had passed. If now they think it is just a fabricated situation, a situation created for certain purposes, of course, the vigilance decreases, they do not start taking care of themselves, they see no reason why to wear the mask, to maintain physical distance. But I have an appeal for all those who doubt the existence of this virus, to see the persons who are hospitalized. Even young ages who may not have concomitant diseases fail to win the battle against this virus, so it is fortunate for the part of the population who are not to see these sights. People should be aware of respecting the minimum distance of 1.5m to each other, to keep the mask especially in environments where physical distance can not be preserved, large gatherings should also be given up whether on holidays, engagements or even at funerals. We are in a pandemic situation and solidarity between us is the only way to emerge victorious in this situation.


KD: How do you assess the work of state institutions in Kosovo and Albania in pandemic management?


Dr. Marsela Ceno: I do not have very accurate first-hand information to say or I am not in a position to judge the work of institutions. I think that both health systems in Albania and Kosovo have done their best, but now it is felt that the situation is slowly getting out of control.

KD:How do you see the contribution of the diaspora in combating the COVID-19 virus pandemic? Is there room to do more? If so, how can such a thing be done?


Dr. Marsela Ceno: I have mentioned in other interviews also that every evil has a good, and the good of the pandemic caused by Covid-19 was the emergence, the advertising of the Albanian diaspora as an extremely powerful instrument, with dignity and personality. I am referring here to the contribution given by a very large number of Albanian doctors working in Germany, who within the initiative of the association since mid-March 2020, so we just realized that the pandemic or virus had arrived and in Germany, and many Albanians, whether from Albania, Kosovo, or Northern Macedonia, remained confined to Germany, and perhaps lacked a family doctor or, due to a lack of knowledge of the language were unable to find out how they should act like. We set up our own support groups for each German Bundestag, made our telephone numbers and e-mail addresses available, and tried to give as little support as possible to all Albanian citizens who needed our advice. In fact, this is a part of the great contribution of all other Albanian doctors everywhere in the world. You may have followed on almost all TV channels or also in the print and radio media, there have been interviews from all Albanian doctors everywhere who have faced this virus in their countries where they live, and tried to share with their countries of origin a way of strategy in the first place how diseases could be identified, secondly what are the preventive measures, to give an appeal to the Ministry of Health in the way of testing patients and providing therapies, what are the alternatives, what has resulted in effective therapy, ie has been a mobilization or is still ongoing extraordinary life of the diaspora, at least in the prism of Albanian doctors who are in the diaspora, and also we have noticed or heard that in recent months the economic aid that has come from Albanians living in the diaspora to their families has been higher than ever. Then we have the philanthropist, for example, the director of the international firm Ecolog, who has donated free tests for COVID, whether in Kosovo, Northern Macedonia, as well as in Albania, so it is a mobilization and an extraordinary commitment. So I can not say at the moment what there is room for improvement, I have the impression that each of us who is in exile either individually or even organized, we have managed to give the maximum of what we have had the opportunity.

KD:It has often been pointed out by infectologists that in case of an increase in the number of infected, there may be a shortage of anesthesiologists. In this aspect, how much could the diaspora or the doctors there have contributed?


Dr. Marsela Ceno: Yes, this is a very fair remark because all those patients whose condition worsens and need treatment with intensive therapy, ie integrated, to give them enough and necessary oxygen, which they can no longer realize lungs affected by Covid-19, they all end up in intensive therapy and anesthetists are the ones who mainly give the first treatment. What has been done in Germany and so far has been very successful, has been the mobilization of other medical forces which means all doctors regardless of their field of action, so it does not matter if they are internists or surgeons, you should to be trained so that at the moment the situation becomes such, that anesthetists are no longer enough to provide assistance to these patients, to have the opportunity for doctors of other profiles to come to the service of treating these patients. Many universities in Germany have also invited students who are engaged in the treatment of these patients, certainly not in making the main treatment but in providing assistance, such as assistance to the anesthetist. There have also been people of different profiles who have given their free contribution through hospitals, whether for moving beds from one ward to another. Before turning our eyes to diaspora doctors, it is important for me that the medical and non-medical staff present in our countries be trained in such a way that if the situation reaches such a level that the situation gets out of control, then other staff be prepared to provide first aid. Perhaps what can be thought and that would be very good, is that some of the doctors who are in the diaspora come and give their contribution in Kosovo or Albania, but we hope that this point does not reach, and also probably would be a very good alternative for the respective countries then come in contact with countries such as Germany that have very large capacities in intensive care, that cases in which are difficult that can not be treated to the end in Kosovo or Albania then to be sent by special transport and treated in Germany. Germany provided such assistance to France, it also received some of the patients who were in very bad condition from Italy, but these are agreements that must be concluded at the state level between these two countries.


KD: What would you suggest to prevent the spread of the virus in Kosovo and Albania, based on the experience of the country where you live?


Dr. Marsela Ceno: Then I refer to the experience as well as reality or actuality in Germany. Starting from the individual behavior of each of us, i.e. maintaining social distance and also wearing a mask in all those environments where maintaining distance is not possible, i.e. in the supermarket, post office, or restaurants which are not well ventilated. I must also emphasize that wearing a mask is something that has two medals of its own, i.e. if textile masks are used they should be washed occasionally if disposable ones are used they should not be worn for days, but even after 4 hours of use should be changed, because in recent days there are announcements which talk about the complications caused by wearing the disposable mask for a long time. They make up a very favorable terrain through the moisture and warmth that comes from our breath and the placement of fungi for causing inflammatory lung diseases, which lungs are just as at risk as pneumonia caused by Covid-19, so I take the chance in this interview to emphasize this appeal, i.e. textile masks should be washed regularly and those that are disposable should not be used for days, weeks or even months, but should be changed after 4 full hours of use. I also want to appeal to all people, to give up the holiday, the big family gatherings, no matter how great the reason to be happy or even sad. We are in a time of pandemics and therefore we must show solidarity, not only to protect ourselves but also to protect others, especially the ages who are most at risk of this virus are people over the age of 55 or 60, people who are polymorbid, ie suffering from diseases such as diabetes or hypertension, or persons who have other systemic diseases of the immune system. I also want to urge people who feel they may have signs of COVID, cough, or fever to isolate themselves for 14 days and see a doctor only if their condition worsens.

The Biberaj Foundation Inc. announces $1.1 million scholarship for 40 students at Rochester Institute of Technology – RIT in Kosovo

The Biberaj Foundation Inc. announces a new academic scholarship, in the amount of $1,160,000, for 40 students to study to obtain a Bachelor’s degree at Rochester Institute of Technology in Kosova/American University in Kosova Foundation (“RIT Kosova (A.U.K)”).

The competitive Biberaj Family Scholarship provides for a total of 40 scholarship awards, granted over four years, to students with strong academic records and demonstrating financial need. Thirty-six of the scholarship awards will be granted to students of Albanian descent from Tropoja, Plava, Gucia, Presheva, Tetova, Shkup, and rural parts of Kosova, and four to students from minority groups in Kosova. It is the goal of the Biberaj Family Scholarship to grant a minimum of fifty percent and up to seventy-five percent of the scholarships to women.  Preference in receiving a scholarship will be given to students interested in Science, Engineering, Technology, Math and Journalism concentrations.

Mr. Ken Biberaj, a spokesman for the Biberaj Foundation stated that: “The Biberaj Foundation is proud to support this innovative and exciting program. Like countless other families that emigrated to the United States, our family is very appreciative of the opportunities that America has given us and the success we have achieved.  This scholarship aims to provide a truly global experience for these young people, with a strong emphasis on women and those prioritizing course work in science, engineering, technology, math and journalism.”  

RIT Kosova (A.U.K.) will administer the scholarship and be responsible for recruiting the students. The College will provide Room and Board.

The RIT Kosova (A.U.K) President, Dr. Kamal Shahrabi, upon establishment of the Biberaj Family Scholarship thanked the Biberaj Foundation by stating: “I am very happy and appreciative that the Biberaj Foundation has selected RIT Kosova (A.U.K) to be the institution of their choice to provide the education to the recipients of the Biberaj Family Scholarship. The generosity of the Biberaj Foundation will enable 40 youngsters of Kosova and the region to receive an exceptional American education near home with the opportunity to get U.S. experience as well. The Biberaj Foundation generosity is a clear indication that the Biberaj family counts on our graduates for a better future in Kosova and the region. Thank you for placing your trust and support in RIT Kosova (A.U.K.) to turn the passion of the recipients of the Biberaj Family Scholarship into a career.” 

As requirements of the Biberaj Family Scholarship, each student will spend one month each summer between each academic year, working to support community service in their home region, and each student will be required to complete a Capstone project by the end of their fourth year. Additionally, each student will spend one academic semester studying in the U.S. under RIT Kosova (A.U.K.) Global Scholar Program at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s New York campus. To maintain his or her scholarship, each student will need to maintain a superior grade point average.

Mr. Ken Biberaj, a spokesman for the Biberaj Foundation stated that: “The Biberaj Foundation is proud to support this innovative and exciting program. Like countless other families that emigrated to the United States, our family is very appreciative of the opportunities that America has given us and the success we have achieved.  This scholarship aims to provide a truly global experience for these young people, with a strong emphasis on women and those prioritizing course work in science, engineering, technology, math and journalism.”  

RIT Kosova (A.U.K.) will administer the scholarship and be responsible for recruiting the students. The College will provide Room and Board.

The RIT Kosova (A.U.K) President, Dr. Kamal Shahrabi, upon establishment of the Biberaj Family Scholarship thanked the Biberaj Foundation by stating: “I am very happy and appreciative that the Biberaj Foundation has selected RIT Kosova (A.U.K) to be the institution of their choice to provide the education to the recipients of the Biberaj Family Scholarship. The generosity of the Biberaj Foundation will enable 40 youngsters of Kosova and the region to receive an exceptional American education near home with the opportunity to get U.S. experience as well. The Biberaj Foundation generosity is a clear indication that the Biberaj family counts on our graduates for a better future in Kosova and the region. Thank you for placing your trust and support in RIT Kosova (A.U.K.) to turn the passion of the recipients of the Biberaj Family Scholarship into a career.” 

As requirements of the Biberaj Family Scholarship, each student will spend one month each summer between each academic year, working to support community service in their home region, and each student will be required to complete a Capstone project by the end of their fourth year. Additionally, each student will spend one academic semester studying in the U.S. under RIT Kosova (A.U.K.) Global Scholar Program at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s New York campus. To maintain his or her scholarship, each student will need to maintain a superior grade point average.

This merit-based financial need scholarship is open to anyone who meets the following requirements:

  • Is of Albanian descent from one of the following regions: rural parts of Kosova, Tropoja, Plava, Gucia, Presheva, Tetova, and Shkup, or is from one of the minority groups of Kosova.
  • Completes RIT (A.U.K)’s application specifically for this program.
  • Able to demonstrate an outstanding academic record and achievements.
  • Has been active in extra-curricular activities.
  • Must have completed a High School Degree by the time of scholarship award.
  • Able to demonstrate financial need.
  • Proficient in spoken and written English at the time of application. The application, selection process, and interview are all conducted in English.
  • Able to demonstrate strong mathematical skills.

An announcement with more information and access to the online applications for the 2021-2022 academic year, will become available at https://Kosovo.rit.edu/

Source: Here

Ylfete Fanaj – The new President of the Council of the Canton of Luzern

The long list of the Albanian role models in Diaspora has added a new name…that of Ylfete Fanaj.

Even though she was born in the beautiful city of Prizren in 1982, when the social crisis started to grow in Kosovo, Ylfete and the rest of her family moved abroad to Switzerland, where her father was first working as a seasonal worker. She studied Social Sciences at the University of Luzern, and immediately engaged as a social worker, relating mainly to issues regarding the youth, such as integration and addiction.

Her political career started in 2007 when she was first elected to the Lucerne city council on the Social Democratic Party (SP) list, and from 2011 she has been part of the Council of the Canton of Luzern. In 2019, she served as vice-president of the forementioned council until this June.

On 23rd of June 2020, she got elected as the President of the Council of the Canton of Luzern thus becoming the first-ever Albanian to be elected in such a prestigious position in the political scene. The inaugural ceremony was a really special one, which drew many plaudits from the outsiders. Former President of the council, Mr. Josef Wyss during his speech complimented Mrs. Fanaj before the ceremonial handover of the Presidency, and he also congratulated her on the new position.

The ceremony turned into a really sentimental one for Mrs. Fanaj, when two Swiss artists acoustically performed the song “Moj e bukura More” which is an old Arbëresh song that has been sung by Albanians since the medieval times.

Ylfete is added to the long list of powerful and inspiring Albanian women around the world who continue to set the standards for future generations and serve as excellent ambassadors of the Albanian community where they live.

Gazmend Freitag – Portraits of the Famous

Fascination and respect – portraits of the Famous by Gazmend Freitag

What motivates an artist to draw the portraits of historical and contemporary figures? Fascination and respect, is the opinion of the painter Gazmend Freitag, whose portfolio celebrates the successful, courageous, kind, creative and beautiful people of the world.  A special place in the heart and the ever expanding collection of the artist is reserved for those poets, fighters and philosophers, whose life and work is crucial to the identity and history of the Albanian people.

  1. Aleksandër Moisiu
  2. Ali Podrimja
  3. Bekim Fehmiu
  4. Behgjet Pacolli
  5. Çun Lajçi
  6. Dua Lipa
  7. Gjergj Kastrioti – Skënderbeu
  8. Havzi Nela
  9. Ibrahim Rugova
  10. Ibrahim Kodra
  11. Ismail Kadare
  12. Klara Buda
  13. Krist Maloki
  14. Lasgush Poradeci
  15. Martin Camaj
  16. Shën Tereza
  17. Nexhmije Pagarusha
  18.  Pjetër Bogdani
  19. Princesha shqiptare Fevzia Fuad
  20. Rita Ora
Alexander Moissi
Gazmend Freitag: Aleksander Moisiu, 2017
Ali Podrimja
Gazmend Freitag: Ali Podrimja, 2016
Bekim Fehmiu 1
Gazmend Freitag: Bekim Fehmiu, 2014
Behxhet Pacolli.jpg
Gazmend Freitag: Behgjet Pacolli, 2016
Çun Lajçi
Gazmend Freitag: Çun Lajçi, 2017
Dua Lipa
Gazmend Freitag: Dua Lipa, 2018
Skanderbeg
Gazmend Freitag: Gjergj Kastrioti – Skënderbeu, 2013
Havzi Nela
Gazmend Freitag: Havzi Nela, 2016
Ibrahim Rugova
Gazmend Freitag: Ibrahim Rugova, 2013
IK
Ibrahim Kodra by Gazmend Freitag, 2017
Ismail Kadare
Gazmend Freitag: Ismail Kadare, 2014
Klara Buda.jpg
Gazmend Freitag: Klara Buda, 2016
Krist Maloki
Gazmend Freitag: Krist Maloki, 2016
lasgush-poradeci
Gazmend Freitag: Lasgush Poradeci, 2016
Martin Camaji
Gazmend Freitag: Martin Camaj, 2015
Mutter Teresa
Gazmend Freitag: Shën Tereza, 2013
Nexhmije Pagarusha 1.jpg
Gazmend Freitag: Nexhmije Pagarusha, 2013
Pjetër Bogdani
Gazmend Freitag: Pjetër Bogdani, 2016
Princess Fawzia Fuad
Gazmend Freitag: Princesha shqiptare Fevzia Fuad, 2016
Rita Ora
Gazmend Freitag: Rita Ora, 2014

Original link here