Alejtin Berisha, the executive director of Universum University College in Kosovo, spent the semester as a visiting scholar at the Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy, supported by a fellowship from the U.S. Department of State’s Junior Faculty Development Program. Berisha is the founder and Managing Editor of International Journal of Balkan Policy Research.
What is a typical day like at NYU for a visiting scholar?
Being a Visiting Scholar at NYU is a very unique and exciting experience. It gives you the chance to work with some of the best scholars and practitioners in the field, interact with a highly vibrant student body and take part in the New York City’s vibrant intellectual and cultural life. Each day at NYU is very different and that is one of the interesting things being here. I usually spend the morning doing some work for my home college and Skype with the colleagues in Kosovo (due to time zone differences), work on my research and meet people during the day and attend classes and public events/lectures in the late afternoon, early evening.
During my time here, I spoke at the NYU Student Affairs Conference in February, delivered a presentation for Steinhardt students about access issues in Kosovo Higher Education in April and also presented at a European Integration class at Center for Global Affairs in addition to my daily activities. Other interesting activities I would like to mention: my volunteering at New York City Education Startup Weekend where I had the chance to work with great entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs working to create solutions for the education sector, utilizing the technology. I also volunteered to serve as a judge for the New York City Science Fair that was a very unique and enjoyable experience — and based on the projects I judged I can confidently say that the future of the city is very bright. My interest in using social media in teaching and learning and university administration has evolved even more and I have delivered several online lectures on this topic for different events and activities in my home country, Kosovo.
How is the higher education community at NYU different from the education community in Kosovo?
Obviously NYU being one the biggest and most prestigious universities in the United States has a very unique position and culture that cannot be compared to that of my home country. The student life here at NYU is different with much more emphasis in student support that leads to engagement and success. The research side is also more developed and you have a better environment to debate and argue about your ideas and research. Being in NYC is also an advantage in terms of public events and I have attended several interesting public lectures and debates with high profile academics and public life personalities.
What will you bring back to your native country from NYU when you leave here in a week?
NYU has given me a lot both in terms of professional development and research. I will initiate several changes starting from the university administration and student services up to faculty development and enhancement of teaching and learning. The connections that I have created during my time here at NYU are perhaps the biggest asset I have gained during my fellowship and I hope to foster them even further.