During the spring of 2014, one Wagner student is using a prestigious scholarship to live and study at an unusual destination for American undergraduates.
Arijeta Lajka ’16 received the US State Department’s Gilman International Scholarship. The first Wagner student to win this highly competitive award for study abroad, Lajka (pronounced ‘LIKE-ah’) is studying at the American University in Pristina, Kosovo.
An English and government double major with a minor in journalism, Lajka wants to become an international journalist. “Kosovo is a good place to be right now for what I want to do,” she says. “They’re a newborn country and just came out of an ethnic war not too long ago.” She had already begun working for the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network before going to Kosovo, covering stories such as the participation of Kosovar expatriates in their home country’s elections.
But Lajka’s interest in the Balkan region is more than just academic. Lajka was born and raised on Staten Island, but her family’s roots are in Montenegro, a neighbor of Kosovo. Both are former Yugoslav republics that gained independence less than a decade ago. Lajka is bilingual in English and Albanian, one of the main languages spoken in Kosovo.
Before her departure, Lajka was excited about the opportunity. “It’s so close to my heart, because my family is from there. It will be nice to spend a semester with people who speak the same language.”
And if she gets homesick, her grandmother is in Montenegro, only a few hours’ travel away.
UPDATE: Read a report by Arijeta Lajka about her experience in Kosovo.