By Ermal Vila-DC Albanian Diaspora Group/
On July 7, 2015, the DC Albanian Diaspora Group held a kickoff meeting with the newly-appointed Albanian Ambassador to the US, Floreta Faber and other diplomatic personnel of the embassy at the renovated premises of the Albanian Embassy to explore ways to collaborate on initiatives of mutual interest.
The meeting opened with brief introductions from all participants and the respective work of the organizations in issues related to promoting Albanian culture and history, fostering exchange between Albanian-American professionals and in helping to strengthen ties between the people, governments and businesses of the home countries and the U.S. Following, DC Albanian Diaspora Group Lead Ermal Vila presented an update of the Albanian Diaspora Program at the Center for International Development (CID) at Harvard University. Currently the program is focusing on expanding the network of leaders and professionals from government, non-government organizations, universities, private businesses, entrepreneurs, and international organizations with interests aligned with the Diaspora Program. The CID Harvard Diaspora webpage has more information about the program and future events, including the latest news as well as access to the June Diaspora Newsletter.
Another important subject discussed was on the composition of the Albanian diaspora community in the DC area, which while not very sizeable compared to other US cities, tends to have a high intellectual and professional potential. However there are few challenges that need to be addressed. This distinct human capital oftentimes remains untapped. By being fully integrated in the DC professional and social life, it can become quite challenging to mobilize the members of the diaspora in issues related to the community or the home countries. Secondly, as it is often the case with diasporas, the Albanian-American community in the DC area lacks cohesion when it comes to the organization of big celebrations of historical days and events like in other major US cities such as New York or Boston.
However, the newly renovated and spacious Albanian Embassy building together with the arrival of a new Ambassador presents an important opportunity for the mobilization of the Albanian-American community in the DC area. One of the concerns shared has to do with the lack of a physical space for the community to organize itself around, since none of the organizations has its own space. The Embassy, given its new premises, can therefore fill this gap and make some of its amenities available for the Albanian American community organizations and activists to organize joint activities. Ambassador Faber told the diaspora activists that part of her mandate as ambassador is to reinforce the ties and collaboration with the Albanian-American community and reassured her commitment to make the embassy an open and welcoming space to promote and organize activities of mutual interest.
The establishment of the DC Albanian Diaspora Group in January 2015 brought together all major Albanian-American organizations and initiatives with the aim of representing a unified DC voice in the ongoing Harvard Albanian Diaspora Program and other community initiatives and activities. Together with the Albanian Embassy, the DC Albanian Diaspora Group will help continue its efforts in promoting and fostering collaboration and harmony in the community for major causes related to its members and to the home countries.
July 16, 2015 – Washington D.C.