Experts from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) discuss the meaning of the term "rule...
Challenges and Hope in Kosova
It’s not uncommon to experience a wide-range of emotions when traveling or studying abroad, but there is something about being in a community facing tremendous despair that can feel like a roller coaster ride.
I had been to Kosova (the politically and culturally acceptable spelling for what we usually refer to as “Kosovo”) once before, shortly after the Declaration of Independence in 2008. At that time, the constitution was in place and the people of the country were hopeful about the future.
Returning in 2011, three years later, the economic prospects appeared bleak, with more people begging in the streets, including elderly women and children. But I could still see the hope in people’s faces.
On this visit, I had the opportunity to get close to a few Kosovar Albanian young women, which provided me with great insight into their lives and what it is like to be female in a male-centric society.
One of my new Kosovar friends became an inspiration to me. Routinely, through an academic course we took together, she would push any guest speaker to get beyond “politically correct” responses to questions. It did not matter if the speaker was a male member of parliament or from the government; her questions were persistent and generally well-supported with data. She not only inspired me for being a strong woman, but she also showed me that there are youth in Kosova who are engaged and motivated to help their country meet the goals and expectations of the population.
During my four weeks in Kosova there were times when I felt deep despair as I looked at the future of the area, which faces many challenges. But I was quickly lifted by the curiosity and ambition that emerged during encounters I had with young people.
Through the relationships I built during my time studying and traveling in Kosova, I learned far more about the society than I could have through any other means.
It is impossible to fully understand another culture; however, if you are able to learn from the people who live in other places around the world, you may gain insight and understanding, which are important to building peace.
-Celena Canode, Research Assistant, USIP