By Peter Prifti and Rafaela Kondi*/
Among institutions of higher learning in America, the place of honor in the teaching of Albanian — certainly from a chronological standpoint — goes to Columbia University in New York. Albanian began to be taught there as early as 1932, about three decades after the arrival of the first Albanian immigrants to this country.
New York harbor has entered the folklore of America not the least because it is the site of Ellis Island, the storied point of debarkation for tens of millions of immigrants from Europe. Many of those millions fanned out in neighboring towns and states in search of settlements. But others stayed in and around New York city, swelling the populations of boroughs like Brooklyn and the Bronx. The new arrivals brought with them numerous foreign languages and idioms, and this fact has been reflected through the years in the language programs of Columbia University.
One of the most impressive facts about Columbia is that more languages ( 71, at last count) are taught there than at any other university in the country. In that favorable linguistic environment Albanian, too, found a niche at Columbia for a period of roughly three decades, from the Thirties to the Sixties.
Background Data on Columbia
Situated on New York’s Morningside Heights in Upper Manhattan, Columbia is the nation’s fifth oldest university. It was founded in 1754, under a charter granted by King George III of England, in whose honor it was named King’s College. In 1784, the name was changed to Columbia College. It retained that name until 1912, when the college was officially incorporated as Columbia University. By virtue of its prestigious scholastic standing, Columbia is recognized as one of the eight “Ivy League” colleges of America.
A “biographer” of Columbia, Horace Coon, has called the university the “Colossus on the Hudson.” 1 Coon attributes Columbia’s eminent status as an academic institution to a combination of factors. For one, the university has attracted great scholars and teachers, including Nobel Prize winners like Robert Millikan, Enrico Fermi, Hideki Yukawa, and Konrad Bloch. Secondly, it has been administered by a number of gifted presidents, among them Frederick Barnard (from 1864 to 1889), founder of the Barnard College for women; and Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler (from 1901 to 1945), of whom it could be said: If you would see his monument, look at the Columbia campus about you. Another source of strength has been the university’s location in New York, which in Coon’s opinion is “the cultural axis of the modern world”.
Ne Foto: Peter r Prifti. Falenderojme shkrimtarin Naum Prifti qe e dergoi per botim. (Te plote studimin e lexoni ne Diellin e printuar)