Which images and readings from class have had the most meaning for you historically, intellectually, and personally? Why?
REVISITING THE PAST
Every time the war is mentioned I picture bloodshed, massacre, flames, and fear which people of my country; especially my family, suffered during the Kosovo war of 1998. Each of the war-related images that my Professor showed us in the class affected me personally, especially the History of Balkans and the NATO bombing of Belgrade. The Kosovo War was a painful experience for me. I lost my father, got separated from my mother and my one-year-old brother and had nowhere to go. I thought my family was dead. It wasn’t until a month later that I was able to find my family at a refugee camp in Albania.
A GLIMMER IN THE DUST
People would tell us different stories about them, occasionally giving false information. My brother Vali, who was only five years old at the time, never stopped searching for our mother. He would ask people, weeping: “have you seen my mother, I lost my father I don’t want to lose her, too.” You see, our mother was everything to us. She was both a mother and father for us. For her to become a widow at 32 years of age, it was quite difficult for her to raise five children without a husband. Though, war makes you stronger and thankful for being alive. I never forgot Bill Clinton’s speech in Albania in which he said, “We are committed not only to making Kosovo safe but in helping people rebuild their lives and rebuild their country and then to rebuild Kosovo.” That speech gave all of us hope. Clinton further said, “So I ask you; please be patient with us. Give us a couple of more weeks to take the landmines up if the people here ask you to do that because you are going to be able to go back in safety and security. I want to make sure it is a happy return.” President Clinton became a hero for us, a light at the end of the tunnel.
Looking at the pictures from the Professor’s visit to the death camp Auschwitz; Poland, I was so touched to see hundreds of thousands of pairs of shoes and suitcases of people killed in the field. It reminded me of roads filled with personal items that people of my country left behind on their way to Albania because even the clothes we had on were heavy after walking for two days and three nights to the Albanian border. Taking this class made me realize that all wars are the same there are always civilians who suffer the most, just because of some insane evil intentions of political leaders who try to do ethnic cleansing. Be that ethnic cleansing of Jews, Bosnians, Kosovars or Syrians.
WHAT DOES NOT KILL MAKES YOU STRONG
Going through pictures from Kosovo’s Independence, in class, made me feel proud and sad at the same time. I am pleased because the intervention of the United States and its allies led to the freedom of my country, which I had always dreamed about. Had my father been alive today, he would have been pleased to see his efforts coming to fruition. While realizing that economically Kosovo is still one of the poorest countries in the region, made me sad. There is a massive brain drain in Kosovo.
THE MEANING OF MY LIFE
One reason why I stand here today, hoping for a better life and opportunity, is the effort of my fellow countrymen and me, who dream of a prosperous future. I thank this fantastic country; the land of opportunities for achieving the American Dream. Today, I am a full-time student and an honors student. I have two jobs, one as a manager of a multi-million company and other as a waiter at a restaurant. I have dreams of becoming an entrepreneur one day.