Scholarship program in Kosovo focuses on inclusion, giving back

This summer, World Learning staff participated in outreach activities to promote the Transformational Leadership Program — Scholarships and Partnerships (TLP-SP) in Kosovo.

In June, Melissa Oppenheimer, World Learning’s Director of Exchange and Training, appeared on “TV Objektiv,” a television program on station Mir — Serbian for “peace” — in the ethnically divided municipality of Mitrovica, Kosovo.

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TLP-SP is a program “to do with changing the society and developing individuals,” Oppenheimer said.

She also underscored the program’s emphasis on supporting underserved groups, a message tailored to the Serb audience, which comprises Kosovo’s largest minority.

“The interest of the Serbian community for our program has been increasing from the start,” she said. “We want to reach the Serbian community as much as possible…because this program is intended for all communities in Kosovo.”

The position reflects the program’s priority not only to further economic and political goals, but also to champion positive interethnic relations, reconciliation, and peace in a the post-war context.

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In addition to appearing on Mir and other TV and radio shows, TLP-SP has organized more than 30 outreach events, targeting individuals with disabilities, the LGBT community, and minority groups like the Serbian and Turkish communities.

“We are focusing on having a direct contact with our potential candidates,” said Oppenheimer.

The program will provide 185 scholarships for students to earn Master’s degrees and professional certificates in the United States in business, economics, education, and agriculture — all of which are high priority sectors in Kosovo. The program is supported by USAID and the Government of Kosovo.

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The scholars are obligated to return to Kosovo after their studies and will serve in a Citizen Corps for two years, working in government institutions, Ministries, NGOs, and other areas considered socially beneficial.

“ All the students that finished their [degree] will give back to Kosovo in their specific fields,” said Oppenheimer. “The focus of our program is not on individuals, but on the whole community.”

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