Category Archives: Know Kosovo

Veton Kurteshi: Taking the love for photography to the next level

Veton Kurteshi has had a soft spot for photography since he was ten, when his father bought him a professional camera.  Now a 25-year old student in Vienna, Veton has built on his love for photography with stunning results.  Whether it is swaths of green valleys, snow capped mountains or beautiful frozen lakes, his photographs capture the essence of nature.

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Veton enjoys shooting with long-exposure feature as it is great for photographing stars and the Milky Way. He uses photography to memorialize moments and share the beauty of nature with others.  He is currently working on a photographing the Semmering Railway, which is the first mountain railway in Europe constructed in the middle of the 19th century under the guidance of Carl van Ghega.  Veton reminds us that Ghega was born in Italy in an Albanian family.

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Veton wants to counter negative stereotypes of his homeland in Austria by showcasing the magnificent landscapes of Kosovo.

To see more of Veton’s amazing shots, check out his Instagram.

As they continued to develop their love for nature, five young men from Kosovo recently joined forces and took their passion to another level.

Arian, Taulant, Leorent, Adi, and Kushtrim are the founders of Supercampers—a group that organizes camping and hiking trips around Kosovo. Driven by their love of nature, about five years ago, these young men started exploring the natural beauty of Kosovo’s ancient mountains. “We have mainly been inspired by the endless potential that Kosovo’s nature has to offer and by the many experiences each of us has had while travelling for work to Europe and the US”, say the founders. Each of them were able to draw lessons from the way other countries have embraced and incorporated nature in their respective cultures. Supercampers want to apply those lessons towards creating a similar culture in Kosovo.

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The idea to create something like Supercampers has been brewing for a long time, according to them. Seeing how such initiatives are rare in Kosovo, they decided that showcasing Kosovo’s beauty is the best way to give back to the country.

During the past five years, the founders have been able to hone their skills and have come across numerous beautiful and interesting places in the country. As a result, Supercampers now organize hikes and camping trips in many different locations in Kosovo. During each trip, their goal is to be able to discover something new and then to share it with others. Some of the most popular spots remain Bjeshket e Nemuna (Rugova Mountains) and Sharri Mountains. In addition, Supercampers have also started working on branching out and organizing trips to the neighboring countries, such as Albania, Montenegro, and Macedonia.

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Considering that it is in the initial stages, Supercampers’ current plans include mostly weekend camping and hiking trips. However, the founders hope to extend the length of the trips during summertime. During the summer months, Kosovo becomes a popular tourist destination for thousands of Kosovar Albanians who live abroad. Supercampers want to be able to help acquaint people with what Kosova has to offer in addition to the vibrant urban atmosphere.

Finally, Supercampers understands that proper usage of social media and technology can be very beneficial. They have embraced the social media world to the fullest as the most convenient and effective way to reach their targeted audience. “By taking advantage of technology and modern media, we think that visually documenting our activities will help us reach the goal that we have set for ourselves—promoting Kosovo and its beauty and showing the world that we are capable of organizing and creating beautiful things.”

A quick look at their Instagram feed and their Facebook page will give you the urge to pack up your bags and leave on the first possible flight.

Rona’s Musical Journey with Albanian Motives

“Me motive tonat” is the new album release by Rona Nishliu, our renowned Kosovar artist and former Eurovision performer who received the highest score that Albania has ever achieved in Europe’s greatest music contest.

Her new project (to be found here: http://bit.ly/1NeHLgt) is the final cycle of research and transformation that Rona Nishliu has applied to classics of Albanian urban music, dating back from the late 14th century. What started as her personal search of the roots of Albanian musical heritage, of the original emotions or sins that led to the creation of the songs, in the quasi academic setting of piano-and-vocals duo experimentation, has now matured into a musical show that transcends traditional content through fusion with Free Jazz, Trip Hop and Soul, offering a unique and refreshing blend of Balkan sounds.

“Me motive tonat” deconstructs ethnicity through the search for connections between different schools of music and by exploring the inner workings of traditional national songs, which to the ancient Balkan people are larger than life and official history books.

“Me motive tonat” rearranges the architecture of traditional Albanian music in a constant search for connections to today’s world, it maps and reinterprets cultural milestones, and questions the accepted national and social role of music and entertainment.

The project is presented through the following products:
• Music Album (9 songs)
• Documentary (40 min)
• Music Videos (9 videos)
• Live Concert (1 hour, possibly up to 75 min)

All these products may be presented separately, and also through a single package for everything, in the form of the so-called Music Cloth, a stylized handkerchief with a 8GB USB attached. The Music Cloth is our substitute to the conventional CD and DVD, and we hope it will be able to convey more of the spirit and intent of this project.

The intention is to penetrate the World Music Scene and create opportunities for representation of Kosovar culture on International Jazz and World Music Festivals and other venues, as well as across the whole range of traditional and social media.

In the summer of 2015, the University of Konstanz and the University of Prishtina collaborated to run a biological summer school, held in Junik. While running the school, the director, Dr. Schmitz along with eight biology students from the University of Konstanz, two biology students from the University of Prishtina and a taxidermist of thee natural-history museum of Stuttgart talked about a potential museum. It was Liridon Hoxha’s idea to open a specialized museum for natural history.

20150808_120054Liridon Hoxha, a biology student at the the University of Konstanz explained for Kosovo Diaspora the main idea for having such a museum. Hoxha who is completing his MSc in Konstanz, Germany is originally from Kosovo. He is an active member of many student groups, such as Green, student’s parliament, Etudes Sans Frontiéres. While attending meetings at Etudes Sans Frontiers, he heard about projects in countries such as Congo, Afghanistan, and Chechenia all of which face numerous challenges. This motivated him to do something for Kosovo.

Hoxha then started a group called ‘Work group Kosovo’, with some of his friends. They brainstormed about what possible projects they could do for making studying in Kosovo possible and in the same time better. Having a background in Biology, Hoxha explained that he always wanted to raise people’s awareness about nature and how they could protect it.

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After the excursion of four universities located in different cities of Kosovo (Prishtina, Peja, Gjakova and Prizren), representatives of the Municipality of Junik, environmental organizations and the Agency for Environmental Protection of Kosovo (KEPA), are interested in cooperation, they have expressed interest and would like to implement this project together with the University of Konstanz. The aim of this ambitious project is to strengthen education about the environment in Kosovo, and improve the scientific data on the flora and fauna. They also hope to boost tourism and the local economy through this project.

It is worth mentioning that during the team’s trip to Junik Mountains, students came across rare species or habitats, which have disappeared from other European countries. For example, they found Lanius senator, a bird type that has abandoned the territories of European fauna long ago.

Wiki Loves Monuments is an international photo contest for monuments running this September, organized by Wikimedia globally, as well as FLOSSK in Kosovo and Open Labs Albania.

Cultural heritage is an important part of the knowledge that Wikipedia collects and disseminates. Everybody can contribute images as well as write articles. An image is worth a thousand words, in all languages at once, and enthusiastic people can (re)discover the cultural, historic, and scientific significance of their neighborhoods by uploading photos to Wikimedia.

http://www.wikilovesmonuments.org/two-days-until-2015-competition/

http://www.wikilovesmonuments.org/two-days-until-2015-competition/

In 2012, Wikipedia volunteer communities in 35 countries joined this initiative. In 2014 nearly 40 countries all over the world are participating through national contests organized with their national monuments, partners, rules, events and winners.

The organizers – FLOSSK from Kosovo and Open Labs from Albania – through digital access to cultural monuments, want to promote the cultural heritage of the respective countries to the world. 

Every national contest, including the ones in Albania and Kosovo, will be able to nominate 10 of their winning photos to the international contest. These nominated photos will be judged by an international jury, which will then award extra prizes to the best images from all participating countries.

The list of monuments of both countries is already published in the official website of the project, including the rules, requirements and the detailed description of this competition at wikilovesmonuments.al. After the end of the competition on 7 October, 10 best photos will be selected from each country – Kosovo and Albania. These photos, in November,  will be sent to the international competition and will be judged by the global community.

FLOSSK is organizing several information sessions in Prishtina, Mitrovica, Prizren, Gjakova and Gjilan during the period September 28 to October 1 to explain the rules, demonstrate the upload process and answer questions from potential participants. To provide access to selected heritage sites and ease the journey, three guided photography excursions will be held in the weekend of October 3-4. To attend these activities please see the details here.

FLOSSK (flossk.org) in Kosovo and Open Labs (openlabs.cc) in Albania are non-profit organizations, established in order to support, promote and develop, among other things, free access to knowledge and culture.

The competition is supported by the Kosovo Institute for the Protection of Monuments of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.

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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

Balcony: A Kosovar movie travelling through international film festivals

“Balcony”, a movie by Lendita Zeqiraj, is going to be part of several international film festivals, starting with Paris, France. This movie has already had 116 screenings in different film festivals around the world.

Zeqiraj’s “Balcony” will be screened in France, Germany, USA, Turkey, Canada, Brasil, Denmark and Austria during this month. “I am very happy that the movie is already part of different international festivals around the world, since it represents Kosovo’s cinematography” said Zeqiraj when interviewed for KultPlus.

The movie will start travelling from Paris on the 15th of April, at the festival in Sorbones – the World Center. The following destination is the Movie Festival in Dresden, where “Balcony” is nominated for the Best Short movie and will be screened three times during the festival. Zeqiraj will also be premiering her movie in Canada, Brasil and Denmark.

 

#InstaKosova Winners Announced

Organized for the second time in celebration of the seventh anniversary of Kosovo’s independence, the competition has brought about  25 thousand photos posted in all social networks with the hashtags #InstaKosova and #InstaKosovo.

#InstaKosova competition is a platform for supporting Kosovo’s digital diplomacy in promoting the young country to the rest of the world. The competition seeks to bring about the best of Kosovo through engaging its citizens at showing their frame of how Kosovo looks like in the morning,  the way Kosovo streets portray life and the daily macchiato breaks. All in all, the competition seeks to highlight what is the force that produces the love that so many have for the little country of Kosovo.

The #InstaKosova team explained that “the selected photos represent the purest illustration of the feelings by the people breathing in this country. They channel the views from the eyes of the youngsters that wake-up in the city center, in the sprawling suburbs, in the picturesque villages, on the magnificent mountain peaks, or at dazzling festival parties and after-parties all over this country. So yes, these are the photos that we wanted to showcase in this edition of #instakosova/#instakosovo and these are the select photos that your eyes will gaze upon in this book.”

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This year’s winner is Sara Rodiqi and her photo titled “N’kamp verës në Ngom Fest, Prizren”. The jury consisted of Blerim Racaj (photographer), Nita Salihu (designer), Blerta Kambo (photographer), Arjeta Emra (director at the British Council) and Era Istrefi (singer).  The  jury commented that “the winning photo gave an aura of  sincere, pure, real, and lush with life feel- a charming snapshot of friends that seem to have all the world bubbling within them, conveying a state of limitless utopia with each other and with us as viewers. It is not a photo that is instantly noticeable, but it is one whose beauty gracefully grows and multiplies as you stare at it.”

Winners of the 10 best photos are: Jetmir Idrizi, Diellza Hasani, Armend Krasniqi, Agon Syla, Agron Beqiri, Nita Deda, Orgesa Arifi, Fisnik Dobreci, Drenusha Lika and Nëntor Oseku. The jury has also selected 100 photos which will be published in a book of photographs. Available for free throughout various state institutions around the world.

#instakosova is initiated and supported by The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Kosovo and is present online at  www.instakosova.com, where you can check all winners and best 100 photos.

#KosovoEverywhere Prize Winners Announced

On February 13, the jury of KosovoDiaspora.org selected the winners of #Kosovoeverywhere campaign. The winner is a picture from Kazakhstan, a country that does not recognize Kosovo yet. The second prize goes to a group of youngsters in another non-recognizing country, Bangladesh. Bronze goes to a beautiful picture taken in Rocky Mountains, Canada. The three winners will receive a prize. Among the eight jury members were three Kosovar professional photographers: Bujar Gashi, Shkelzen Rexha and Korab Basha.KosovoEverywhere_1

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“Although the campaign is officially finished, we think it is a great idea to keep taking pictures with the Kosovo flag in the world. We will put every picture in our online album,” says Kanarina Shehu. “The power of digital diplomacy can benefit Albanians around the world. This campaign is an easy and friendly way of showing the world Kosovo is everywhere,” she explains further.

#Kosovoeverywhere campaign started on July 2014. Kosovo Diaspora invited people around the world to take pictures with the flag of Kosovo during their holiday, study, or business trips. The campaign resulted in showing Kosovo in around fifty different countries around the world.

Starting from last year’s summer, dozens of people took pictures and uploaded them via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. “People brought a Kosovar flag in their suitcase or printed the flag on a piece of paper. They made a selfie in the center of a city or at a beautiful nature sight. Some even managed to take pictures of local people carrying our flag, even in countries that do not recognize the Republic of Kosovo”, explains Kanarina Shehu, coordinator of KosovoDiaspora.org.

All picture submissions can be found at the following link in our Facebook page:  bit.ly/KosovoEverywhere. The call for submissions can be found here.