When I tell people that I am moving to Kosovo, I am usually greeted by nervous smiles and blank stares. Haven’t heard of Kosovo? No worries. Most Americans know next to nothing about Kosovo.
Before I left for Kosovo I wrote about the most common misconceptions about my Peace Corps service. For example, a lot of family and friends confused Kosovo with Kuwait.
Kosovo is a tiny country in the Balkans region of Europe. It officially declared its independence from Serbia in February of 2008, so it is a very new country. Half of Kosovo’s population is under 25 and unemployment is extremely high.
Area: 4,200 square miles (the size of Connecticut)
Language: Albanian and some Serbian
Main Religions: Muslim (90%) & Orthodox Christian (9%)
Terrain: Mountainous (and beautiful!)
Climate: Humid continental, meaning it has highly varied seasonal temperatures, i.e. hot sticky summers and snowy winters
President: Hashim Thaçi
Prime minister: Isa Mustafa
Where are the Peace Corps Volunteers?
PCVs are spread all over the country, with the exception of the northern tip above Mitrovica. Most volunteers work in villages or smaller towns, but several of us are in the larger cities. The map to the left shows the seven largest cities in Kosovo.
There are currently 51 Peace Corps Volunteers working in Kosovo in the field of education. In January six Response Volunteers arrived to work with the Peace Corps for six months in Community Development. The third group of 35 PCVs will arrive in June of 2016, with most working in the education sector and several in community development.
The Kosovo War
The conflict between Kosovo and Serbia occurred in 1998-1999. To read a very brief explanation of the war, click here. To read about the history of the region and the tension that led up to the war, click here.