William and Mary Law School

Janë Të Lodhur?- Are you tired?

This last week has been pretty productive. Monday started with a review of the Fair Trials International article on Kosovo sovereignty with Anton declaring that I had hit the nail on the head with the second draft of the article. We agreed that I would have time to re work the article one more time before turning it in for review by the Fair Trials group on Thursday. On Tuesday I travelled with Anton and Arbanna to Prishtina REA's office and partook in an official meeting to discuss the first draft of the questionnaire for the access to justice project. 

Brief review of the access to justice project, the majority of my blog posts have been discussing the round tables that I participated in. Now those round tables discussions and notes that I took are being put to use in the questionnaire that CLARD and Prishtina REA have cobbled together from participant feedback. We are rapidly moving into the next phase of the project which involves training law students to go out and administer the questionnaire to 1300 participants outside of Prishtina. The entire point is to facilitate discussion about the reality of the judicial system within the country and help foster trust from the citizens in the country's infrastructure. The NGOs involved hope to create a 3-5 year plan for the government of Kosovo to implement.

The discussion about the questionnaire was comical at times because of the way things translate. I know I mentioned this before but after this experience my faith in translation has definitely taken a hit. There is just so much information and culture attitude in words, and translation seems to lose most of that by the slightest misinterpretation of a word. For example during the discussion a representative from OSCE commented that "citizen" does not have the American connotation attached to it. He said that if we used citizen the people of Kosovo would be confused and question the usage because for them citizenship holds little to no meaning. That American tie of being able to state that you're a USA citizen and the feeling of ties and community that conveys is missing within the Kosovo people. So we scratched citizen out and replaced it with an English word that seemed very benign to my eyes but apparently would have the desired impact when translated to Albanian. Another issue that was discussed throughly was the concept of family in Kosovo. Apparently when we ask for information regarding family size or income we are casting a wider net than just the nucleur family. Kosovars include everyone in their extended family when asked such a question, so we had to limit the family size by specifically asking about people within the household. But as I shall discuss later that sometimes did not work in the testing round that we facilitated. 

After the meeting I went through the questionnaire again back at the office, and I pinpointed a couple of things that I thought did not flow well. I then went to discuss these issues with Anton and through that conversation became the main point of communication for CLARD's perspective on the project. With this new found job I was assigned five interviews within the city of Prishtina to test out the validity of the questionnaire. My parameters were that the five people had to be between 18-25 and educated. They also had to have proficient knowledge of English because the questionnaires have not been translated into any other languages. So I went through my contacts within the city and tapped into the D4D intern network and came up with five people that all had university degrees (or were about to obtain one at graduation this year) and in the range of ages from 19 to 25. All of my participants were really good sports. I appreciate their help so much and they were super accommodating when I had to change the interview dates from next week to Wednesday and Thursday of this week to meet the new deadline of July 11th. I told each participant that we were looking for the problem areas within the questionnaire that if anything did not read well or prompted more questions than it should to tell me. The chief complaints from people centered around inconsistent chart instructions and that if they have never had a legal issue than the majority of the questionnaire could not be filled out. The average time for the questionnaire was 38 minutes and depending on the level of critique they were willing to give me some of the meetings were pretty long. The family issue came up alot with people asking me what we meant and if they could include people outside of their house. Mostly people stuck with the nucleur family concept but they still included people in family income and such even if they were running a separate household or married. 

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The entire experience was very interesting and I am very proud to say that I have contributed in a small way to large NGO project with such a great goal of facilitating access to the judicial system within Kosovo. I have been told several times here that I am still young and idealistic, and that if I stayed within Kosovo for longer than 3 months that I would see how frustrating and slow moving the entire process of change is here. I do recognize that problems cannot be fixed within 5 minutes but the NGOs that are still battling against the tide of international pressure and impossible EU standards and are really focusing on the problems of Kosovo citizens. They deserve recognition for their loyalty to their cause and their belief that things can get better in the country. I seem to be repeating myself a lot lately in these blogs but CLARD really believes in their mission, and last week they made the decision to split their attendance at two legal clinics because they thought that doing both in one day was taking down their quality of work. They constantly strive to improve their system and maintain their level of quality even when they are being consistently swamped in clinics with 60 cases in one day. 

But on ward in the recount of the busy week. When I arrived back from my second to last interview on Thursday I found Anton waiting for me to check that he could send in the Fair Trials Article. So I spent the next 45 minutes editing the article and coming up with a eye catching title before my last interview of the day. I eventually came up with "Extradition: Kosovo's Last Stand for Sovereignty within the European Union". For anyone that knows what I did for two summers in the National Park Service they will recognize the Little Big Horn Battlefield reference in there. My history major thesis follows me everywhere I go! Custer would be proud to know that he was thought of while I was writing this article. 

After the whirlwind day that was Thursday I took my work home with me and wrote up my field notes from the two days to help the process of writing the report on Friday. So Friday morning I went in early to make sure that I would meet the deadline and wrote the report on my findings with the process of administering the questionnaire. The entire process was pretty smooth, we will see what the NGOs report on my findings on Monday. Stay tuned for updates! 

For the extracurricular activities of this week- Abby and I have become somewhat knowledgeable "football" fans over this summer with all of the World Cup watching that we have done. But even we can say (with our amateur eyes for "good football") that the Germany v. Brazil match was an absolute massacre. About 20 minutes in it became very clear that the game was over, but we stuck it out to gory end with Brazil and watched as the fans became ever so despondent with the home team's defeat. There has been a lot of talk about how host countries really destabilize their economies by hosting such events and that Brazil may be facing some critical times as the World Cup winds down and the fans leave which will result in having a huge football staidum for no apparent reason. But side note, good thoughts to the Brazilian player that suffered a major spinal injury agains Colombia. The poor man was kneed in the back hard enough that it cracked some of his vertebrae resulting in him being hospitalized and immobile for the next couple of months. I hope that he has a speedy recovery! We also watched the Argentine v. Netherlands match and that one was a hard one to know who to root for. Abby and I have friends from both countries so we split our time rooting with Luli and Jose for Argentina and supporting Reint at a Netherlands pub within Prishtina in his team's resulting defeat.

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I also managed to play beach volleyball this week on the Italian KFOR base. I am starting to become pretty good at walking with confidence past all the armed security surrounding these places. We had a couple of matches playing 3-3 and I just had the thought that sports really do bring people together. My team had an Italian and Swedish guy and the other team consisted of two Hungarians and a German. Pretty profound stuff when you think about it. The Olympics are starting to take on a whole new meaning for me. 

And now for the travel portion, this week Abby and I are rounding out our Balkan experience with a visit to Croatia. It has been splendidly awesome thus far and all the things that you hear about how beautiful it is are true. 

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And last but not least, the title of today's blog of "are you tired" is a common greeting that Kosovo uses in their communications. It's our equivalent of "whats up?" Side note to that, a political campaign ran with this phrase to highlight that people should be tired of the current government's corruption. Clever people these political campaign managers.