International Student Fosters Celebration of Culture and Diversity on Two Continents
Esma Fera ’24 recently represented her home country of Kosovo at a University-wide event, sharing her culture with the Charger community. A public broadcaster from the Balkan country picked up the story, sharing Fera’s experience at the University with its audience in Kosovo.
June 6, 2022
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
Esma Fera ’24, an international student from Kosovo, is passionate about sharing her culture with the University community. She represented her home country at a University-wide event this past semester, capturing the attention of a Kosovan broadcaster and making the news in her home country.
Fera was among the participants who shared their culture as part of the University’s annual International Festival (I-Fest). As part of the event, members of the University community create table displays with information, interactive presentations, and activities from their home country. While discussing their country and their culture, they serve food to and answer questions from visitors.
After several of her family and friends shared a social media post that she’d be representing Kosovo, a small country in southeast Europe with a population of just under two million, at I-Fest, a journalist from Radio Television of Kosovo, the public service broadcaster in the country, reached out to Fera. When asked to share her experience at I-Fest with the people of Kosovo, Fera was excited to oblige. Radio Television of Kosovo shared the story on its Facebook page.
“All the people of Kosovo were extremely happy to see my presentation, including the traditional clothes, food, and handmade table decorations, taking place for the first time at an American university,” said Fera, a biology major. “I was receiving consistently great messages and comments from everyone, which made me feel grateful that I had something special to share about the culture.”
‘We belong in all cultures’
At I-Fest, Fera was at a table representing Albania and Kosovo, since, she says, they share a language and ethnicity. She and her fellow presenters displayed unique handmade decorations that reflected their culture’s values and included specific and significant symbols and colors. They served food prepared by a local Albanian restaurant, and Fera says the byrek – a filled pastry – was very popular with attendees.
Fera presented information about her culture to attendees, discussing Kosovo’s geography, language, traditions, diversity, and history. As part of I-Fest, students also shared their cultures through musical and dance performances.
“I had a great experience sharing my program proposal at I-Fest as well as representing the University of New Haven to my community in Kosovo,” she said. “It felt great to see that everyone was trying to bring the best to the public. The food and the diverse environment, surrounded by the music at I-Fest, made us feel that we are all the same and that we belong in all cultures.”
‘How rich our Charger community is’
Originally from a small town called Kamenica/Dardana, Fera says it is known to be “one of the most ecologically stable municipalities” in the country. She says hospitality is very important in Kosovo, as serving traditional food to guests is “always a must.” She’s grateful for the opportunity to share the cuisine – and so much more – as part of I-Fest.
“What I enjoyed most about being a part of I-Fest was seeing how rich our Charger community is becoming each day in terms of diversity and inclusion,” she said. “All the countries that were represented by many other international students were a reflection of their willingness to make everyone feel included and unique.”