World Learning’s Kosovo field office was abuzz with activity this past week, holding several pre-departure orientation (PDO) events to prepare 85 young leaders to study for Master’s degrees in the United States ahead of their departures in August.

The students represent the second cohort of the Transformational Leaderships Program — Partnerships and Scholarships (TLP-SP) that World Learning administers with support from USAID and the Government of Kosovo.

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D.C.-based World Learning Deputy Director of Exchange and Training Matthew Brown and Senior Program Officer Jessica Ellerbach traveled to Kosovo to help lead sessions throughout PDO. Their collaboration with local program staff helped TLP scholars prepare for study programs in 36 universities and colleges in 25 states from Florida to Oregon, California to Massachusetts.

“I would say the main purpose or aim behind delivering a comprehensive PDO is to ensure that the students understand the rules and regulations that govern the program as well as World Learning’s expectations for them as scholars and ambassadors of Kosovo,” said Ellerbach.

“But more than that it is to provide them with some context and knowledge about what they can expect to face within the higher education system in the U.S. and to equip them with some strategies to support their overall transition to a new academic environment.”

The PDO also afforded Brown and Ellerbach time to engage with the students personally, a group Ellerbach described as:

“motivated, young leaders who have an individual and yet collective vision for Kosovo”.

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Each scholar will return to Kosovo for a minimum of two years as members of a citizen corps to help drive development in Kosovo’s key-need areas of economics, education, engineering, and agriculture. World Learning staff works closely with each student to design a study program that fits the scholar’s interests and background within these four sectors and six other areas of study — business management, finance, information systems, public administration, rule of law, and gender and interdisciplinary studies.

Ultimately, the group aims to become better able to contribute to an improved, forward-looking Kosovo.

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World Learning empowers people, communities, and institutions to create a more peaceful and just world.

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