PRISTINA, Kosovo—More than 150 guests celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Kosovo American Education Fund (KAEF) last week at the Night of the Rising Stars.
The annual fundraising event supports the next generation of KAEF fellows, rising stars with ambitions to use their education to help their country. Keynote speaker and member of the Parliament of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, noted the impact alumni have had in the young country.
“KAEF and many other programs that have supported the young people of Kosovo to get an education abroad, have not only changed the lives of those people but have helped the state-building process and institution building process immensely,” Mrs. Osmani said in her address.
“When the organizers of this program draft their annual reports, I am sure they need to deal with lots of numbers and finances, but the influence of this program goes way beyond the Excel sheets,” she added.
Mrs. Osmani said the unsung heroes of Kosovo are people who create jobs, and KAEF alumni are helping add many jobs to the economy.
Special guests at the event included KAEF honorary committee member and former president of Kosovo, Atifete Jahjaga, USAID Kosovo Director Lisa Magno, and Ray Nayler, deputy public affairs officer at the US Embassy in Kosovo.
Mr. Nayler, who worked for American Councils prior to joining the foreign service, spoke of the impact that exchange programs have on students. He quoted Dan E. Davidson, American Councils' co-founder and president emeritus, saying that “the exchange begins once the student returns back home.”
Kosovo country representative of American Councils for International Education, Gjeni Shporta, welcomed guests and thanked all the attendees and donors who made the event possible.
“Last year we celebrated the 100th scholarship and this year coincides with program's 15th year of operation,” he said to the audience. “Throughout these years your support has been—and continues to be—instrumental to the program's success.”
The evening concluded with remarks from KAEF alumna, Albulena Basha, who recently returned to Kosovo after graduating with a double degree in economics and agriculture from Iowa State University. Ms. Basha talked about the many professional and academic opportunities she was afforded while on the program, including working with renowned agricultural economists and presenting her work in several distinguished conferences. Ms. Basha said the best part of the program is that the impact lies beyond the students. She is now working with Kosovo's farmers and sharing her expertise to help them grow out of poverty.
The event was moderated by alumna Tringa Krasniqi and included a musical performance by Art Lokaj.
The event was also supported by: Limak Kosovo, Finca, BpB, Ecoinvest, HIB Petrol, KOSTT, Trepharm, UCX, Creative Fields, Finese Events, Gagi Print, Rrota and many goodwilled champions of education.
About the Kosovo American Education Fund
The Kosovo American Education Fund (KAEF) annually offers up to eight graduate fellowships at US universities to talented Kosovars who demonstrate a strong commitment to the economic development of their country. Fellows study in master's level programs for one or two years, obtain a degree, and participate in professional internships.
Established with funds from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), KAEF has operated as an independent entity that does not receive funds from the American government since 2004. Today, KAEF is supported largely through the charitable support of individuals and businesses in Kosovo, American supporters, and American universities.