Graduate student leads environmental change in Kosovo


SUMMARY: Marigona Gashi, an international graduate student from Kosovo, took a recycling initiative in her home country, engaging schools, fostering environmental awareness, and promoting sustainable practices.

A JMU graduate student has helped to change attitudes, behavior, and develop the necessary infrastructure to promote recycling in Kosovo. Marigona Gashi, a student from Kosovo who is enrolled in JMU’s Communication and Advocacy program, completed this work through the project "Think Outside the Trash" that was funded from JMU’s Madison Trust.

Ms. Gashi has a background in architecture and passions for urban planning, environmental justice, and advocacy. While working in the Urban Planning Department in Kosovo’s capital, Prishtina, Gashi had noticed that people in her country don’t think about recycling and the country lacked a sustainable recycling system, leading to overflowing landfills.

During the first phase of the project, Gashi, together with experts in ecology, recycling, environmental science, and social entrepreneurship, developed a guidebook with engaging hands-on activities. The guidebook was designed for use in the high school curricula, within subjects including mathematics, art, biology, science, social studies, and environmental studies. This engaging resource includes games, creative projects, and quizzes. It encourages implementation of recycling competitions among schools, is designed to raise students' awareness and expansion of their knowledge of the recycling process.

The project’s second phase, a "Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle" workshop, took place in selected public high schools. Gashi chose the schools through consultation with the local government, to identify institutions where the project could have the greatest impact. The workshop helped school staff learn how to approach and implement the instructions and creative activities from the guidebook. Gashi stressed how school staff dedication, and their proactive approach in the implementation of the project will be critical to the project’s success. Staff showed great interest in this project. Their willingness to collaborate demonstrated a shared vision for fostering environmental awareness and sustainability among students.

During the third phase, students started practicing recycling. Gashi provided recycling bins to the selected public high schools in Prishtina. Teachers guided students through hands-on activities, encouraging them to reuse materials for projects like birdhouses, jewelry, and planters. These activities not only promoted academic connections, such as calculating the individual impact of recycling, but also helped to foster life skills, teamwork, and problem-solving.

Gashi is very grateful to the Madison Trust, an initiative by University Advancement and Corporate & Foundation Relations at JMU, for their generous support. She believes that this is a great opportunity to reshape habits and increase awareness of the recycling process.

Together with school staff, Gashi will track student participation, the collection of recyclable materials, and qualitative changes in attitudes and behaviors. This will inform refinements to ensure the program remains engaging and effective.

Gashi hopes that the positive impact of this project will transform not only the participating students' habits but also helps to foster a wider commitment to recycling and sustainability in the community.

Back to Top

by Dardanë Halimi

Published: Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Last Updated: Monday, April 22, 2024

Related Articles