Transformational Leadership Program - Scholarships and Partnerships

Scholars’ Research Presented At Conference In USA

Economics students Dorina Grezda and Nehat Dobratiqi spent their summer working as research assistants at the University of Maine in the United States.

The young Kosovars, who are supported by Master’s degree scholarships from the Transformational Leadership Program – Scholarships and Partnerships (TLP-SP), analyzed data from an energy survey related to people’s behavior in recycling and other environmental areas previously conducted by the University’s School of Economics.

Professor Mario Teisl, the scholars’ advisor and School of Economics director, presented their work at an UNITWIN/UNESCO program-sponsored conference for “Food Waste and Sustainability Concerns” in Wisconsin in early September.

“They helped me a lot to get through the data…very valuable,” said Teisl, whose family heritage and work experience have brought him to the Balkans often, even during the outbreak of the Yugoslav Wars. This background, he says, helps him better relate with students and issues from the region.

Image Grezda (second from left) at the "3rd Maine Economics Conference" withprofessors and students on the University of Maine campus. Photo courtesy Dorina Grezda.

The hands-on experience also allowed Grezda and Dobratiqi to practice their data analysis skills while increasing their interests in areas relevant to their academic and professional plans.

“Since I have come here I have had the opportunity to work in other fields more related to environment and recycling….and I found that [they are] related directly to policy issues,” said Grezda, a Master’s candidate in Resource Economics and Policy.

The pair will continue to work with Professor Teisl in independent study projects while looking forward to their return to Kosovo next summer.

“We were thinking we could do something when we come back to analyze some issues and sort of transfer this experience to doing something concrete in Kosovo,” said Grezda, explaining that natural resource and waste management efforts have less priority in the developing nation.

Image Nehat Dobratiqi with a poster presentation at the School of Economics at Univeresity of Maine. Photo courtesy Nehat Dobratiqi.

But the two scholars are making a case for increased action in that area. “To generate economic growth and development are the main issues,” said Nehat, who is pursuing a Master’s in Economics and spoke about Kosovo’s use of lignite, a fossil fuel that accounts for 97% of Kosovo’s electricity generation.

“But I think if we were to find other means to produce energy…we would spend less resources and use more energy and that would contribute to the economy.”

“There’s a lot to be done,” said Grezda, suggesting ways to bring solar energy initiatives, recycling, and increased tourism to her home country of Kosovo.

And the ideas keep flowing: “Why not we export that energy somewhere else?” said Dobratiqi. “That would really help the economy.”

Image Dobratiqi (second from left) and Grezda (far right) atWorld Bank Group with other TLP-SP scholars.

TLP-SP is a USAID project implemented by World Learning in Kosovo that provides scholarships for advanced studies in the United States for Kosovars to build their knowledge and skills in a wide range of fields and to promote cross-cultural understanding to develop the next generation of leaders who will work together to improve their country for a better future.

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