I am back from my visit to Kosovo. I need some time (maybe a few days) to edit and will let you know as soon as I post.
Today was a great day as a photojournalist visiting the school in Shurdahn Kosovo. The school is located in the mountains outside of Gjilan, near the border of Serbia and Macedonia, or more precisely outside the village of Zegra, Kosovo. I photographed students in Biology and Albanian language classes as well as at recess. I also visited with American soldiers from Minnesota who visit the school once or twice a week, helping with some maintenance of the school and also with Englsih lessons. The students were excited to see me, standing as I (or the teacher) enters the class. They say hello, one boys says, "What's Up?"
They are all learning English and some were eager to practice the language. I also visited with the school director and on this day, the inspectors from the Kosovar governement were visiting. With help from the English teacher, she translated. They made Turkish coffee for all, including myself, and offered cigarettes and cookies.
The school is in bad condition and in need of repair. The governement wants to close it but the director, of 26 years, says no, they need this school. There is no other school in the area. So it remains open and with heat from wood burning stoves in each class and water stained ceilings and walls, education continues.
At recess the children play soccer. It is madness. These children, both boys and girls are tough. The boys also like to arm wrestle. They have two ten minute breaks, and 15 minutes for lunch. Most children do not bring any food and none is offered at the school. There are two school sessions. The morning students attend from 7:40 AM to 1:40 PM then another shift of students arrive.
I travelled by bus from Gjilan to Zegra, then took a taxi to Shurdahn.
Shurdahn was all Albanian people however, in Gjilian there are some Serbians. As an American it is almost impossible to recognize the difference. Albanians can see the difference in the face.
I hope tomorrow to visit with Alabnians.
I will stay tonight in Gjilan. My favorite town in Kosovo, not as big as Prishtina and I feel the locals are more connected, a more intimate town.
I am shooting film and will have a roll processed today and a CD made from the roll. I will post a couple photos tonight.
My health is well and I feel respected.
Tomorrow I meet with an Albanian translator and learn more about the town of Gjilan where he is from. -END
The coffee in Kosovo, or Kosava as Albanians spell the name of the world's newest country, is fantastic.
More to come when I find time and can gather what I think.
I am off to Kosovo this February, 2008, to photograph Kosovo's declaration of independence. I will also be in Skopje Macedonia and make a stop at Camp Bondsteel (Bond-Steel) the U.S. Military base in Kosovo. If you are seeking photographs from Kosovo, please email me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Kosovo, attached is an article from Reuters, by Fatos Bytyci.