It sounds like a dream come true - and it is. These scholarship programs give Kosovar students the chance to spend an unforgettable summer, semester, or year studying in the United States.
Study visits on the other side of the Atlantic are a dream many young Kosovars look forward to in their careers. Many have already made such dreams come true.
“It was a dream come true. We went to NASA to meet an astronaut and saw where they are building components of the Nancy Grace Roman telescope, a new telescope that is going to be launched in 2027,” 12th grade student Era Thaqi said.
Thaqi is one of more than 400 Kosovar students who have participated in US exchange programs in the last five years, and one of many who have described it as a “life-changing experience”.
These programs give students the chance to learn about American culture and traditions, gain professional skills, and share Kosovar culture.
There are several opportunities that young Kosovars may use to study in the US.
Below, you can explore some of the opportunities offered to high school, university, and graduate students to study in the United States. These nine embassy-sponsored scholarship programs are merit-based and require at least an intermediate working knowledge of English.
High School in the US
For high school students looking to spend a year attending high school in the US, the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange & Study (YES) Program offers full scholarships. Approximately 20 Kosovar students per year participate in the YES program, where they spend one year living with a host family and attending an American high school.
Erëza Racaj, a 12th grade student from Fushë Kosovë, spent one year in Lincoln, Nebraska, as a YES program participant. Racaj said she got the chance to have a second family in the US “|that considers me their daughter, got the chance to make life-long friends, and got to see and live a new way of life. YES is an amazing experience that made me see the world through different eyes”.
Applications for YES 2024-25 open in September 2023.
If an entire year spent away from home seems too long, the US embassy in Pristina offers two additional summer exchange programs for high school students.
One opportunity is TechGirls, a summer program that brings together 150 high school girls from 35 countries to spend one month learning about technology and computer programming at Virginia Tech. The summer program focuses on coding workshops, STEM education, cultural exchange, leadership skills, and hands-on job experience.
Last year, Era Thaqi was one of the first participants to attend from Kosovo.
She visited NASA and the State Department, but her favorite part was building “a global network, with friendships from the six different regions of the world”.
Equipped with technical and leadership skills from TechGirls, Era founded two “Growing with Tech” clubs at ShFMU Ismail Qemali and ShFMU Faik Konica in Pristina on returning home. She hopes to expand the programming to more schools to inspire young girls in Kosovo to pursue careers in STEM fields.
The deadline to apply for TechGirls Summer 2023 has passed, but students interested in TechGirls 2024 should check for updates here.
Another summer programming opportunity for high school students is the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Summer Institute, BFTF. This program brings together students from the US and 45 European countries to study democracy, citizenship, and politics at Purdue University.
“This program will give you everything that the United States has to offer. You see everything from the rural countryside of the US to the big metropolises like Chicago and D.C.,” said Leon Axhemi, a high school student from Gjakova who attended the BFTF program last summer.
The highlight of Axhemi’s summer: seeing bison in Indiana. He also said that BFTF made him more outgoing and open-minded, and inspired him to pursue a degree in international relations.
Applications for the BFTF 2023 program are due in February.
University in the US
There are several opportunities to attend a US university as well. These programs offer talented students the chance to explore American culture, enhance their professional skills, and study at some of the world’s best universities.
The American Advising Center, AAC offers free advising sessions about how to navigate the U.S. higher education application process.
AAC also runs three college prep clubs where high school students can attend TOEFL, SAT, and essay-writing workshops. These clubs focus on securing admission and scholarships for Kosovo students to attend American universities.
“The [AAC] College Prep Club was simply one of the best activities I have ever participated in,” said Blendë Nishori, an AAC participant who received a full scholarship to attend the University of Pennsylvania. “I recommend it to every single person I know,” she added.
At the American Advising Center, Nishori took part in sessions on TOEFL and SAT prep courses, writing workshops, and volunteer activities to prepare her applications for US universities.
UGRAD funds one semester of study in the US for current Kosovar university students. Drin Çela, who participated in the UGRAD program in 2022, found that “people in the US are very driven, very open minded in general. They kind of have this ‘can do’ attitude about everything”.
This optimism rubbed off on Çela. He discovered that living and studying in the US provided him with “really valuable life experience” that helped him “stand out to employers”. He gives the UGRAD program his highest recommendation.
CCIP funds one academic year of study in the US. This year, five Kosovar students are studying digital media and communications at the College of DuPage in Illinois.
Current CCIP participant Florentina Lipovica’s favorite part of CCIP is volunteering at campus events, theater performances, and food banks. She is currently organizing a mental health support group for students at the College of DuPage.
When she returns to Kosovo this June, Lipovica plans to use the digital media and community organizing skills she has learned “to help my people and help my country in any way possible”.
Lipovica urges Kosovar students “not to think in any way that they’re not suitable for the program, that they’re not good enough, or that their university grades are not good enough because this program gives an opportunity to everybody”.
The next deadline for UGRAD and CCIP is in November 2023.
There is also a summer program for university students. The Study of the US Institutes (SUSIs) for Student Leaders from Europe is a five-week program that brings together European university students to study freedom of expression, media literacy, and counter-disinformation tactics at Arizona State University.
The SUSIs application will re-open in the fall for students interested in attending in summer 2024.
Master’s degree in the US
There are two scholarship programs for students to get their master’s degree in the United States. American universities are known for their academic rigor and hands-on approach to learning, making them a great place to pursue a graduate degree.
The Fulbright Foreign Student Program provides scholarships for citizens of Kosovo to get their master’s degree at a US university. Fulbright Scholars are often early career professionals who plan on returning to Kosovo after completing their program to share their new skillset with their community.
“This experience is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Donika Sollova, a current Kosovar Fulbright Scholar studying at Brandeis International Business School.
On returning to Kosovo she plans to work in the private sector to “improve the lives of youth and women.”
Fulbright Foreign Student Program applications for 2024-25 are available in May 2023.
The Kosovo American Education Fund (KAEF) awards six to eight graduate fellowships for citizens committed to the long-term economic development of Kosovo. Applications for 2024-25 open in August 2023.
KAEF fellow Rina Bulliqi, who is getting her MBA at UNC Kenan-Flagler, has had the chance to speak with experts who “work at these amazing companies that we only hear about in Kosovo,” including the CFO of Microsoft. Bulliqi is also enjoying traveling around the US and trying food from different cultures.
Bulliqi’s advice to future exchange participants: “Bring a Kosovo flag with you!” You will have the chance to share Kosovo’s history and culture with your American peers – maybe you’ll even convince them to visit Prishtina.
The YES Program, Community College Initiative Program, Fulbright Foreign Student Program, and KAEF are administered by American Councils. Visit their website for more information on these programs.
TechGirls, Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Summer Institute, UGRAD, and Study of the U.S. Institutes are administered directly through the US embassy Pristina. Visit their website for more information on these programs.
The College Prep Club and Junior College Prep Club is run by the American Advising Center. Visit their website for more information.
All US embassy-administered international exchange programs for non-U.S. citizens are available here.
03 February 2023 - 12:33
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