A few weeks ago, a course of Croatian language was introduced at the Faculty of Philology at the University of Prishtina. When I heard the news I was thrilled, even though I already knew it was going to happen since the Dean of the Faculty, Lindita Rugova, told me about it a few months ago. Why is this such good news? There already is a department of Balkanology at the Faculty which includes courses on Slavic languages. However, what is different is that finally the University will have a native professor from the region teaching the language in Prishtina. Thus, for this intensive course they hired a professor of Croatian language from the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Zagreb, Croatia, Ivančica Banković-Mandić with whom the students will have a chance to finally learn the language from a professional native speaker. From what I have heard, there are already around 30 students from the University of Prishtina who are interested in taking this course and studying Croatian this year.
This is a great opportunity for young Kosovars to learn the Croatian language. Because of the similarities of the Slavic languages in the Balkans, learning one of them makes it possible for one to understand others as well. Not only will this ease up the communication between the Kosovars and the various countries surrounding them, not to forget the Slavic communities living in Kosovo, but it will also open up many opportunities for Kosovo’s young academics to continue their education or find work in the region in the near future.
Another good example that this course provides for the region is that it shows the readiness and willingness that the youth have to study and speak Slavic languages in Kosovo. According to a myth spread in some of the Kosovo’s neighboring countries, mainly in Serbia, it is no well accepted to speak a Slavic language, i.e. Serbian, in Albanian populated areas. From my personal experience I can confidently say that this is false and that the myth itself is a dangerous concept that does not help the region at all. What is more, whenever I speak with the older Albanian generations who still remember the Serbian language from their youth, which they had learned in school or by serving the army in former Yugoslavia, they immediately switch to Serbian even though I speak Albanian to them. There are some young people as well who have learned the language through growing up with or simply working with Serbs, Bosniaks or Gorani people in Kosovo. Therefore, introducing the Croatian language course at the University of Prishtina will yet be another opportunity of cooperation and acceptance that the youth in Kosovo want to learn the language and that they are interested to seek opportunities for jobs and schooling in the region. Importantly, the Department of the Albanian language is expected to be founded soon at the University of Zagreb, which would lead to signing an agreement between Kosovo and Croatia that would enable the exchange of students and professors between the two countries
Finally, this presents a great opportunity for students of Albanology in the region, as well as students of Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian or Montenegrin, to find work in Kosovo in the near future. In my opinion, this course is just one step towards opening up a Department of Croatian language, as well as other Slavic languages including Macedonian, Bulgarian and Slovenian. This will create new and serious opportunities for regional student exchange as well as career-wise for young academic citizens of the Balkan countries.
Author: Tomislav Perušić
Tomislav is a graduate of the High School of Economics in 2009 in Subotica, Serbia. Moreover, he continued his studies in Economics at the University of Zagreb, Croatia, from 2009 to 2011, while currently, he is studying Albanian Language, Literature and Culture at the University of Belgrade in Serbia.
Tomislav’s experience in volunteering, working as a translator, correspondent and being an active member of society is enriching. He has worked as a correspondent for a Croatian newspaper in Subotica, Serbia, called “Hrvatska riječ” (Croatian word) since 2009. An activist of an NGO called Žene u crnom (Women in Black) in Belgrade, Serbia, and translator from Serbian to English and vice-versa since 2015.
In addition, he has participated in numerous seminars for the Albanian language since 2016, as well as Links2 program organized by the Youth Initiative for Human Rights regarding Kosovo - Serbia dialogue, held in 2016 in Prishtina, Kosovo, and Belgrade, Serbia. Took part in Gender Studies Summer School in 2016 in Prishtina, Kosovo.
Tomislav has knowledge and communicates in a number of languages such as: Serbian, Croatian, English, Albanian, Hungarian, Italian, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese.