Laura of Ljubljana: An Up-and-Coming Civil Society Activist in Slovenia

By: Kosovo Diaspora    April 22, 2015

Laura Seferaj is a 22 year-old Kosovar law student living in Ljubljana, Slovenia. She is the founder and president of the Albanian students organization of Slovenia/ Shoqata e studentëve shqiptarë në Slloveni/Društvo albanskih študentov Slovenije (DAŠS), and a member of the society for the protection of animals, based in Ljubljana.

The following is an exclusive interview with Laura for KosovoDiaspora.

KD: Tell us a bit about your background and the work you do every day?

I was born in Ljubljana 22 years ago. I graduated from Poljane high-school (Gimnazija Poljane). During the years in primary and high school I received many awards in national competitions in different areas (Logic, Slovenian language, History). I am currently studying Law at University of Ljubljana. In 2014 I founded Albanian students organization of Slovenia (DASŠ), of which I am also president. In january we also founded “Albanian youth and students association of Slovenia and Croatia”. I am also an activist in the Society for the protection of animals Ljubljana.

KD: Can you tell us more about your organization?  

Albanian students organization of Slovenia (DASŠ) was founded in 2014 with the aim of organizing meetings and events with a focus on students. The objectives of DASŠ are: exchange of information; education and dissemination of intellectual development; expansion of humanitarian and ethical ideas; assistance and support to Albanian students who are studying or beginning to study in Slovenia. The organization has a membership of 95 students.

DASŠ acts as a connecting bridge between the two countries (Slovenia – Albania).

During the visit of the Albanian President Bujar Nishani in Slovenia, in November 2014, DASŠ participated in Slovenian – Albanian Business Forum, on an invitation of Slovenian Chamber of Commerce in talks B2B (“bussiness to bussiness”) to help with the translation of Slovenian and Albanian companies that have demonstrated an interest in mutual cooperation.

DASŠ also participated in the event “Day of Albania – culture and tourism” (4th April 2015) in collaboration with the Embassy of Albania where we promoted our culture, tourism and gastronomy to the passers in the city center of Ljubljana.

The organization enjoys the full support of the Embassy of Albania and Kosovo in Slovenia.

DAŠS is also a member of  the national network of non-governmental organizations for an inclusive information society (NVO-VID) in which we strive to promote advocacy and representation of the views of NGOs in the process of shaping public policies and legislation.

The organization supports The Federation of Associations of constitutive nations of the former Yugoslavia countries, in an effort to recognize their (our) status of minorities in Slovenia.

DAŠS is a member of the network “Albanian youth and students association of Slovenia and Croatia”, supported by the Ministry of Diaspora, in which we connect with the Croatian students of Albanian ethnicity and other networks of young Albanians around the world.

In the sign of New Year holidays,  in December 2014, we organized an all Slovenian humanitarian campaign “Donate a toy – give a smile” / ” Daruj igračo podari nasmeh” / Dhuro loder- dhuro buzeqeshje”. We collected toys and school supplies for orphans in Kosovo, socially disadvantaged children and for the children of pediatric clinic in Pristina. We gave gifts to more than 200 children. The humanitarian campaign was very welcomed by the civil society in Kosovo, since this was the first time a group of diaspora students organized such an action.

We also devoted an amount of money we received by organizing students  parties to the victims of the floods which hit the south of Albania in February this year.

The association organizes various theme parties and celebrations. A large part of the funds we collected go to charity.

KD: How are you committed and dedicated to the Kosovo issue abroad?

As a representative of the third generation of immigrants, it was very important for me to preserve and cultivate Albanian language and culture.  I founded DAŠS in order to connect Albanian students in Slovenia in the course of which we would: with education and dissemination of intellectual development, and expansion of humanitarian and ethical ideas, promote the Albanian youth in Slovenia as prospective, active and ethical, and also help our native country in different areas.
I try to be present in the events associated with our minority in Slovenia. In the context of the EU project, in a partnership between the European Commission, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia and the European Parliament, I participated in a round table titled “Active citizenship minorities” organized by Educational association Pina.

KD: What are your plans for the future?

Finish my studies, be even more present with different projects in the civil society of Slovenia with DAŠS and contribute to Kosovo in every possible way I can (knowledge, charity etc).

KD: What do you think about the civil society sector in Kosovo?

My personal  experience so far is that they are ready to co-operate and are helpful. I believe they should be more present in the media and powerful in the process of shaping public policies and legislation.

How can diaspora members help better the image of Kosovo?

Diaspora members should integrate in the countries where they live but not assimilate; evolve in the areas they are best in and promote Kosovo as a nation of values, talents and intellectuals.