How the Albanian language was included in Harvard University and the role

Oct 23, 2023. Posted by  Balkan Periscope - Hellas

At the beginning of the year, the Albanian language was added to the list of foreign languages ??taught at Harvard University. 

This came after the request of the Albanian-American students and the support of the Albanian-American employees in the administration of this university. This is the second semester of giving the Albanian language course at Harvard.

The Albanian language, an elective course in the department of Near Eastern languages ??and civilizations at Harvard University, is offered at three levels, beginner, intermediate and advanced, depending on the students' knowledge.

Lecturer Faton Limani says that students who choose the Albanian language do not only learn the basics of the language. "Students learn language structure, grammar and morphology, but also speaking, writing and reading. Also, as a lecturer, in addition to the basic things that students need to learn, speak and write the Albanian language, I also included the part of culture and history. For each semester, the students make a presentation, where they choose certain topics such as the history of the alphabet of the Albanian language, the history of the Albanians, or folklore, music, tradition and others", says Mr. Limani for Voice of America.

It was the Albanian-American student Edona Cosovic who last summer submitted the request that the Albanian language be part of the studies at the prestigious American University. The Political Science student was born in the United States to Albanian parents from Montenegro.

In an interview for Voice of America, Edona says that it was the desire to study more about her origins that prompted her to request the inclusion of the Albanian language program at Harvard. "This is an important reason to have this course at Harvard. I wanted to learn the language, it is very important for me. Both my parents are Albanian. I want my children to speak Albanian too. But I also want to have the culture. Learn more about the history of Albania. I am Albanian from Montenegro and I do not know all the happenings in Albania and Kosovo. Now, little by little, in every class I learn more", she says to the Voice of America.

Albanian language classes were also chosen by Kevin Dervishi, an Albanian-American student originally from Tirana.

"Maybe I shouldn't say this on television, but I haven't told my family yet, because I want to surprise them with a better Albanian and being closer to the Albanian community. One day, when my Albanian is much better, I will tell them what I have learned. I can't wait to surprise them," he says.

  Kevin is pursuing his doctoral studies in cancer biology at Harvard.

 He says that after choosing the Albanian speaking classes, his speaking skills have improved significantly.

"I am very happy because when I was little, I forgot the entire Albanian language. But now I will practice the language and speak Albanian again", he says.

Student Cosovic says that preserving the language is the best way to maintain ties with family.

"My parents are very proud of me because they have always wanted me to be very close to my culture and family. When you are more connected to your culture it is easier to be closer to your family. The culture of Albanians is to be closer to your family and maintain ties with your community. They are also very very proud of me. Even those in Montenegro. They always ask about me. I am very happy", she says.

 Edona is one of the leaders of the Albanian-American student association at Harvard.

She says that at the moment there are 12 Albanian-American students at Harvard.

This network is an information window for all young Albanian students who want to study at this university.

"When I first came to this program, I immediately got to know other Albanian students who were a few years ahead of me. I had the opportunity to learn from them. During these years at the university, I got to know and helped young Albanian students. We are a community that supports each other", says Albanian-American student Kevin Dervishi.

This is the first year that the Albanian language is taught as a subject at Harvard and there are currently 5 students, 3 of them Albanian-Americans.

"These students tomorrow, when they leave the university, usually go to their countries or to their communities and it has a multi-dimensional impact because they stay informed about Albania, they know about Albanians in general. This can be a very positive thing because tomorrow they can be potential investors, or potential ambassadors of their countries", says Mr. Limani.

Harvard is the only one among the most famous and prestigious American universities that offers the Albanian language.

Besides him, the Albanian language is taught in several other American institutions such as Arizona State University, DePaul University and Mercy College in New York.

"I invite all Albanians, wherever they are in universities in the United States and abroad, to see how they can start an elective course, or an Albanian language course, or even students, for example, in universities different groups can start a student club which is organized around the Albanian language and Albanian culture in general", says Mr. Limani.

Mr. Limani adds that his goal is that in the future, as students' interest in the Albanian language increases, a center for Albanian studies will be established at Harvard University.

VOA, Sot,