Conflict Resolution through Education: Scholarship for Two Kosovar Youth
Project location: ITALY, Duino
Project start date: August 2002 - Project end date: May 2004
Project number: 2001-22
Beneficiary: Collegio del Mondo Unito dell'Adriatico
The Ferdinando Peretti Foundation has agreed to grant two scholarships for Kosovarian students for the UWC of the Adriatic. This project was originally conceived by Marina Catena, an ex-student of Adriatic College, who was for two years the Special Advisor to Bernard Kouchner in Kosovo. Marina, a UN staff member, has played a key role in the developments leading up to the final interview session.
In addition, Pearson College (Canada) had offered one more scholarship to a Kosovarian student (2002-2004), and the UWC of South East Asia had offered one 3 year scholarship covering the two years of the IB Diploma programme followed by one year in a community service project, possibly in the Balkans (2002-2005).
Interviews were held in Pristina, at EXIMKOS Building of Ministry if Education, Science and Technology.
10 candidates were interviewed (5 male, 5 female), comprising: 6 Albanian speaking, 1 Bosnian speaking, 3 Serbian speaking (Gorani).
These observations came from the interviews:
- During the last few years, the educational system of Kosovo has been severely disrupted. Most Kosovar youth had to study in their homes for some time. Education varies considerably according to residence, with possibilities much more limited in the (Serbian-speaking) enclaves which live under constant UNMIK guard.
- 2 of the candidates had spent some time out in Germany in recent years because of the political and ethnic situation. They had returned in the summer of 2000. They were retained as candidates since they represent one important aspect of recent Kosovar history. Their reintegration had not been easy.
- The education of the Gorani youth had encouraged them to be less demonstrative and more guarded in their interaction with others. They also had a lower level of English (Russian rather than English is still often taught in their schools; they had practically no opportunities to speak English).
- An apparent - and understandable - lack of interest in "politics" was expressed by most of the candidates. This, ironically, did not prevent them from discussing recent developments in Kosovo.
- There was a definite lack of interest in the South East Asia 3-year option. This may be explained by the recent considerable interruptions in education.
After the conclusion of the interviews, UWC of the Adriatic decided to offer the scholarship places funded by the Nando Peretti Foundation to Arnel Ahmeti (Gorani, Serbian-speaking candidate from Dragash) and to Adelina Mustafa (Albanian speaking, Pristina). Full scholarships included travel and pocket money.
Mersiha Kiksic (Albanian speaking, from Pristina) was offered the full scholarship place to Pearson College. Regretfully, the scholarship to UWC of SEA was not offered anymore that year. Hesitation encountered in Pristina included distance (many people in Pristina had already been displaced) and time (the Kosovar candidates are already slightly older than many other UWC candidates due, in part, to the impact of war events on their education).
Both Arnel Ahmeti and Adelina Mustafa have settled in well during their study period in the College. Both appeared to make good use of the many possibilities and interacted well with the student representatives from 81 countries.
Although he struggled academically at first, Arnel has persevered to overcome the challenges, and his teachers indicated that he produced stronger results in the second than in the first year. Although he is naturally rather retiring, Arnel proved to be more able than was at first evident. Arnel demonstrated to be a sensitive and thoughtful young man. He played the key role in supporting his room-mate, a physically handicapped student from Khabul, in all aspects of day-to-day life and study.
Like Arnel, and perhaps on account of the difficult (national) background, Adelina seemed rather nervous and retiring when she arrived at the College. She has applied herself most carefully and, although she was rather hard on herself, she has gained confidence by participating in more and more activities in her courses. By May 2003 she seemed much more flexible and relaxed.
Adelina volunteered to be one of the student leaders of the discussion groups which set the tone at the start of her second year and she made a strong contribution to their success. One teacher subsequently reported that he was much struck by Adelina's allusion, during a discussion group session, to the fact that she hated Serbs before arriving at this College, but that she had been able to engage in meaningful discussion with a Serb during her summer holiday in Kosovo.