Xixëllonjë Nebihu, M.Ed. student in Equity and Cultural Diversity

College of Education

SUMMARY: Xixëllonjë Nebihu, a M.Ed. student in Equity and Cultural Diversity and a GA in Dean Mark L’Esperance’s office welcomes any opportunity to engage with faculty and students about her experiences as a student and teacher in Kosova.

Xixëllonjë Nebihu, M.Ed. student in Equity and Cultural Diversity

By Kara Myers


Xixellonje Nebihu comes from a transitional country called Kosova. She encountered US institutions in 2018 when she was given the scholarship to do an Exchange program at Florida Gulf Coast University through the program Global UGRAD, financed by the US Department of State. This experience inspired her to pursue a master's degree at JMU in Equity and Cultural Diversity. 

In 2019, Xixellonje joined the program "Teach for Kosova." She reflects on this program, "Teach for Kosova is a program for outstanding Kosovars to bring positive changes and transformational experiences in the classroom while teaching." To become part of this program she had to go through many procedures, from written applications to the Assessment Center – which consisted of three components: a 5-minute demonstration, a group activity, and a one-on-one interview. The Fellowship is two years, but her journey stopped when she decided to follow her dream to pursue her Master’s degree in the US. 

In Kosova, she taught different grades. She started as a substitute English teacher and taught all grades in primary and middle school. She transitioned from all grades to teaching 5th graders to 9th  graders. She describes her typical day of teaching, "I started teaching at 8:00 AM. I would go in the teachers' hall, wear my uniform, get the itinerary of the class I had to teach, and begin teaching. The most I had to teach in one day were six classes, which could be of different grades. The class is about 40 minutes, although during the pandemic it was only 20 minutes and classes were divided. So I had to teach the same thing to the same class who were separated." 

Xixellonje says that teaching differs based on the teachers. The curriculum is rich and contains a lot of activities, but many of the teachers still use the traditional method. She posits that there are huge differences between higher institutions in Kosova and the US, "The system of education is absolutely different. Before you apply to university you have to decide which major you want to go to, then to get accepted in the university you have to sit for an entrance exam of that major. Most of the programs do not give the choice of elective courses; they are all mandatory for every student in that major, so you have the same classmates throughout the program until graduation. Here in the US, students get fully engaged in learning through projects, assignments, presentations, and more, which are required after every class." 

When asked what she will take with her when she returns home, she stated, "The leadership that JMU is giving me, the skills, the knowledge, the diversity, equity, and inclusion will be part of me everywhere I go."  

Xixellonje speaks about the challenges of getting the job she strives for, a principal in a public school. She states, "Kosova was torn by war in 1999, so the effects are still felt, politics interfere in getting jobs in schools. However, I will take any opportunity that comes to me, whether it is a training program, conferences, teaching jobs, tutoring, and so on until I reach my goal. There is work to be done in public schools, so I hope to achieve this with determination and persistence."  

Xixellonje’s biggest supporters have been her family.  

JMU is collaborating with Kosova through an educational exchange program. Dr. Kris Wiley, the Coordinator of Global Engagement for the College of Education, says, "One of my goals is to leverage the international experiences, whether they are virtual or in-person, by building stronger relationships with Kosova.  We have a great deal to learn from a society such as Kosova."

Wiley also has several other international programs that he supports.  If you are interested in being a part of the Kosova experience, please contact Dr. Wiley at wilerkr@jmu.edu

Xixellonje currently is a GA in Dean Mark L'Esperance's Office. She welcomes any opportunity to engage with faculty and students about her experiences as a student and teacher in Kosova.

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Published: Friday, September 3, 2021

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 3, 2023

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