My last week in Kosovo can be best described as bittersweet. I wrapped up the last assignments that were given to me both this week and last; I finished editing a couple of research papers and compiling what research I had gathered on issues surrounding shared parental leave in Kosovo. At the same time, another English-speaking intern arrived at D4D, and was going to stay for one month. I was able to take him to lunch one day that week and impart to him what knowledge I had gathered over the last ten weeks. I thought his arrival was serendipitous, as it gave me an opportunity to begin to summarize all that I had learned in Pristina. In addition, I attended farewell parties from both my coworker at D4D and with my friends that I made outside of the office. It was both touching and fun to reminisce with everyone that I had met during my journey here.
When I reflect back on what I experienced during my internship in Kosovo, there's a myriad of moments that I can touch on that signaled both personal and professional growth. Researching EU law, laws in other European countries, and Kosovar law showed me the challenges that nascent countries have in growing as well as the complications of attempting to abide by a larger, supranational set of rules. I saw the challenges watchdog organizations face in holding powerful governmental people and parties accountable. I also witnessed civil law hearings, argumentation, and judgments that gave me my first dose of practical, civil law experience. In total, these challenges stoked within me the flame to continue in my pursuit of international law. My time at D4D also allowed me to learn, practice, and hone some of the practical skills that will serve me well both at W&M and beyond. I watched and participated in the nitty gritty activities that occur behind the scenes which set up and organize big events, meetings, and conferences. I was thrust into situations where I was incredibly uncomfortable (most of the time, this discomfort was amplified by a language barrier), and forced to think on my feet to solve problems. After all of these experiences, I gained a huge boost of self-confidence; I know I can survive and navigate difficult situations that life will throw at me.
I left Kosovo with something more valuable than any trinket or souvenir. I now have a different paradigm of how I view myself, my home country, the law, and the world. I've felt myself grow, through both my personal experiences and the stories from the people I met. I've seen my country in a new way; it is not the amenities and the wealth that make America power, it's the way we support other countries and promote democratic ideals across the world that truly garners the world's respect. I've seen law present a myriad of challenges to people, while at the same time create a foundation that can help people build a brighter, healthier future. And finally, I've seen the world as not just a globe with labels and borders, but a vibrant, diverse planet filled with people who think, feel, and dream just as I do.
Finally, thinking, writing, and rewriting these blog posts over the last three months has given me time to reflect and understand all that I experienced. It's as much a tool for me to learn the lessons inside all that I experienced as well as a record of my growth. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity William and Mary, Democracy for Development, the donors, and all the incredible people I met provided for me. This was the experience of a lifetime.