Kosovo's Flag. Last time for now.
When I moved to Kosovo last September, I was excited. I was also irritated. I was excited to be in a place I’d read about, but never visited. I was irritated, because change is hard. In Kosovo, the driving was chaotic and needlessly loud, the water would be out once or twice a day, and you couldn’t walk on the sidewalks because cars took precedent. These seemingly trivial things grated my patience and I felt on edge for the first two months I was here.
For the last venture in the Balkans during this year, we headed to Albania. I say this as a fierce defender that Alaska is one of the world's most beautiful places: Albania is one of the single most beautiful places I have ever been. I hope you enjoy this newest photographic installment here.
This past winter, I wrote about the trials and tribulations of having to lie in an introductory language course. I even wrote an apology letter to my Albanian teachers because I had, like a sociopath, lied to them regarding the inane. My complaint, as with any introductory language course, was: don’t ask me questions about my favorite furniture or how many balconies my apartment has if you don’t want to get lied to. I just wanted a class that was going to put me on a path towards useful Albanian.
Forsaking the inane for the unknown, I jumped back into the world of introductory Albanian, but with a new teacher. This new teacher is a solo act working out of an extra room in her apartment. She teaches in the local dialect (Gheg), she does not ask us inane questions, and every simple mistake we make is a “katastrofë”. I love this new teacher.
Welcome to the new and improved Legally North of Babylon! Same quality content with a more appealing aesthetic. Any and all constructive feedback is welcome.
Kosovo's Flag. Still a Juvenile.
My apologies for some lack luster posting the past few months. I've been traveling around Kosovo interviewing judges, prosecutors, and Ministry of Justice officials for my Fulbright research about the state of juvenile justice in Kosovo. Recently, I gave a talk on the state of the juvenile justice system, the use of diversion, and my recommendations. My entire talk can be seen below.
For those of those not inclined to watch an hour long video of a person you kinda know speak about juvenile justice in Kosovo, here are a few highlights:
This last weekend, a small troupe of brave explorers left Pristina by minivan to explore the Orthodox version of Carnival in Strumica, Macedonia. To no one's surprise, the unexpected Sufi tomb in the countryside was more interesting. There was some time in Skopje too. Here is a small batch of photos from the journey.
It’s never a good thing when your region or political system begets a noun. Stalinization sucked, de-Ba’athification didn’t work, and Balkanization was a blood bath. Yugoslavia’s death, ie. Balkanization, came at a cost of four secessionist wars, hundreds of thousands of lives, and bore seven new states. After Kosovo finalized its secession, it seemed like Balkanization had, like the flu, run its course. However, violent riots in the capital of Macedonia, Skopje, this past week are just one reminder that Balkanization is not yet over. The riots are symptoms of Macedonia’s shaky national identity and an insurgent Albanian unification narrative that leave the future of the country, and the region, anything but certain.
Kosovo's Flag. Promise.
Dear Albanian Language Teachers at Alliance Francais:
I lied to you. Twice a week for fifteen weeks, I lied to you.
It didn’t start that way. Those first few weeks, when we were learning to introduce ourselves in Albanian, I told you who I was. And I told the truth. I was a lecturer at a local university. I taught students about the law. But being 28, boyish in nature, and unable to grow a beard, you didn’t believe me. You thought I was too young to lecture at a university, and while you might have been right, it was the truth. It was the last truth I told you.
If Albanian wasn’t hard enough, getting to class is also a challenge. The walk to my Albanian language course is largely unlit. The only way you can judge the distance between you and others is the floating cherry of a cigarette in the possession of an oncoming pedestrian. Luckily the smoking rate in Kosovo is unofficially at 80% thus leaving only 20% to cause me surprise and direct harm.