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The story of Selimi’s career starts with Kosovo’s war for independence from 1998 to 1999.

Kosovo emerged with deep wounds caused by the deaths of approximately 10,000 civilians, the displacement of hundreds of thousands, and sexual violence against an estimated 20,000 Kosovar women. Selimi, 17 years old at the time, became one of those displaced by the violence when forced to flee his home in Presevo, a town in southern Serbia with an Albanian ethnic majority. “I had to leave my home and my parents and go to Macedonia because 18 year olds such as myself were being tortured or disappeared. Many were killed. So I became a refugee. I was there by myself for months and months. I didn’t hear anything from my family.”

“It was a difficult time, but opportunities arose when the war ended… A new country emerged, a new people emerged.” Selimi is a lawyer and began his career working for a police school first as a translator and then as a lecturer of criminal law.

He eventually becoming director of curriculum development. He continued to seek opportunities to further his expertise and was accepted into the Kosovo-America Education Fund which selects and pays for young Kosovars to receive an education in the United States.

Having grown up being influenced by American movies, music, and culture, Selimi greatly enjoyed the chance to come to the United States to study.

“For me, it was starting from scratch… There was a lot of personal engagement into tasks, a lot of reading, and a lot of deduction from all that reading into papers.”

He noted Duke’s emphasis on critical thinking rather than memorizations proved especially important to him.

He also saw that MIDP is more than just academics but an “amazing community” where people help each other.

“Many students who were my seniors would offer their help and advice without being asked. The way the professors work with their open offices helped greatly with truly understanding issues and developing an opinion on these issues.”

The diversity of his MIDP peers and the Duke community broadly introduced Selimi to “different perspectives from different nations and good people from all around the world. This is also part of that experience. Not only the education, but also these connections and this network you build.”

Selimi was the graduation speaker for the Masters in International Development Policy class of 2010, and considers the speech one of his proudest moments.

“After so many sleepless nights, an immense amount of stress, and countless hours of debate, we have done it my precious friends!” Selimi said during his remarks. “We hold a place in history as being the first graduating class of the Sanford School of Public Policy, Masters of International Development Policy, at Duke University!”

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