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A Brief Report

28 June 2012

A group of foreign students headed to Kosovo this end-of-May to embark on an experience that they were hoping would be good. By end of June, as they were leaving Kosova to head back to their home universities, they felt their experience was awesome, life-changing, beyond expectations, and inspirational.  

Participants of the Balkans Peace Program – Summer 2012:  Post-Conflict Development in Kosovo, a new program of TBG Foundation that started this year, felt that they had benefited tremendously in terms of academics and culture by having been part of this three-week program.  

An educational program, the Balkans Peace Program  provided its participating students with the opportunity to spend about three weeks in Kosovo studying and learning about development in practice in a post-conflict area right in the middle of Europe. Participants of the program visited three other Balkans countries, Albania, Macedonia, and Montenegro.

Apart from its academic character, the program provided participants with a wonderful cultural immersion opportunity. Foreign students participating in the program were placed with local peers of the Gjilani College and their families for the duration of their stay in Kosovo.  

Some key highlights of the program included meetings of the participants with the President of Kosovo, Atifete Jahjaga as well as the Speaker of Parliament of Kosovo, Jakup Krasniqi. Program participants got to meet many other high ranking government officials in Prishtina including Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth, and Sports, Hajdin Abazi, and Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Izmi Zeka, as well as the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Parliament of Kosovo and leader of the opposition political party Vetevendosje!, Albin Kurti. Program participants got to meet the Mayor of Gjilan, Qemajl Mustafa, who treated them to dinner as well.  

National media outlets, including dailies and the public broadcaster of Kosova, RTK, covered the program. Program participants were also featured in a couple of reports of local news portals and a local TV show.  

A six-day tour of historic sites in Montenegro, Albania, and Macedonia brought the program to its end. A ceremony marking the completion of the program was held at the Gjilani College and certificates of program completion were handed out to each student by the President of TBG Foundation, Tony Bislimi, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kosova, Ibrahim Gashi, and Dean of the Gjilani College, Naim Mustafa.

Three Certificates of Appreciation were also handed out during this ceremony. The Gjilani College presented Mr. Halit Bislimi, Executive Director of TBG Foundation with a Certificate of Appreciation for the foundation's and his invaluable support for the BPP 2012. Whereas, on behalf of TBG Foundation, Tony Bislimi presented a Certificate of Appreciation to the Gjilani College for their excellent partnership in this program and to Mr. Halil Korca for his invaluable support as a tour guide during the three-country tour of the program.

What's been said about the program - a few quotes:  

“I thank you professor Bislimi and your foundation for the excellent job you’re doing in educating young people and in building cultural, academic, and societal bridges between the young people of Kosova and their peers abroad.”
Atifete Jahjaga
President of Kosova

"The program was comprehensive in that there was an academic aspect, time for socializing and connecting with local people, official government visits, and the opportunity to visit various sites in Kosova and some of the surrounding countries. It would very difficult to experience the best of Kosova any other way. Kosova is a beautiful and fascinating place, rich in natural wonders, culture, history, and hospitality.   I would go back in heartbeat."
Jessica Alexander
Participant, Balkans Peace Program 2012

“There is no better way to build the true image of Kosova and our people than by brining here young scholars such as these students of your summer program.  This is an educational program that helps the world better understand us and that helps us better see the world.”
Jakup Krasniqi
Speaker of the Parliament of Kosova

"My time in Kosovo on the BPP 2012 has put me on a different trajectory as an educator of adolescents: I am now driven to discuss grief, conflict, communication, and reconciliation whenever possible with my students."
Gordon MacKinnon
Participant, Balkans Peace Program 2012

“Our city has been privileged to have been the host of this program. TBG Foundation has continuously brought honor and shine to our city, our community and our country, through its educational programs. I am sure Gjilan has now become a new home away from home for the foreign students in this summer program.”
Qemajl Mustafa
Mayor of Gjilan

"Overall, it was fortunate for me to learn an interesting topic like post-conflict developments with the great professor who kept me interested in the topic and my classmates who all are kind, friendly and funny.  At the same time, it was also lucky for me that I could have shared a lot of wonderful experiences with them, I believe."
Masayuki Kishimoto
Participant, Balkans Peace Program 2012

"This program is one excellent way in which we can show the world what Kosova and the region have to offer and what we have learned from the past. I see this as a great way in which public diplomacy can work. These foreign students can be our best ambassadors throughout the world."
Ibrahim Gashi
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Government of Kosova

"I am sure that nothing comes close to learning than the experience itself. Coming on this program, I am confident, will turn out to be a worthwhile endeavour for these students. What they learn here in a very short time is what they will probably remember for a long time."
Hajdin Abazi
Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth, and Sports, Government of Kosova

Some Pictures from the BPP 2012:

BPP 2012 Participants

BPP students during a class meeting with Professor Bislimi

BPP 2012 participants with President Jahjaga (6th from the left)

With Speaker of the Parliament of Kosova, Jakup Krasniqi (middle, standing)

With Deputy Minister of Culture, Hajdin Abazi (4th from the right, standing)
With Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Izmi Zeka (5th from the left, standing)

With Mayor of Gjilan, Qemajl Mustafa (middle)

At the Gadime Cave, Kosova

Looking at the hilltop Castle of Prizren, Kosova

View from the Castle of Shkoder, Albania

Visit at Mother Theresa's Birthplace in Skopje, Macedonia
A view from the Castle of Ulqin, Montenegro (pic taken by G. MacKinnon)

Sports time...

Professor Bislimi speaks on national TV about BPP 2012

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ibrahim Gashi, hands out Certificates of Completion to BPP 2012 participants

BPP 2012 Participants, TBG Foundation Staff, and The Gjilani College Staff involved in the program take a farewell pictures on the steps of the Gjilani College, Gjilan, Kosova


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