Sharing (and Saving) Cultural Heritage

June 20, 2013


Photo of Senat Haliti Short-term visiting scholar Senat Haliti

Although Senat Haliti’s home country of Kosovo is one of the youngest Balkan nations, it is steeped in history, so it’s only natural that he would be interested in helping preserve its cultural heritage. As a participant in the Short-Term Visiting Scholar Program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, Senat was able to mix work with cultural understanding.

“I wanted to broaden my professional and academic horizons, and I always felt that the USA is the best opportunity for that because of its diverse culture and top educational institutions,” says Senat. “Also, the USA is the most internationally relevant country. Presence of freedom and respect for human rights are at the highest level.  By being in such a country, your knowledge and understanding of the world is always enriched.”

While in the United States, Senat continued his work with Cultural Heritage without Borders (CHwB) to help save a 13th-century castle in Kosovo with support from the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, all while observing urban planning and historic preservation activities firsthand in Pennsylvania. His curiosity was well-received, and Senat was pleased by many aspects of American culture that helped him feel welcome.

“I expected more formality among the faculty, and I was positively surprised – things have been moving so easily. People I met at the beginning were really not formal at all,” he says. “People are very friendly and hospitable. Anyplace you go, if people see you with a map on hand they just come and ask to help. There is a lot of kindness around.”

His program quickly helped him discover that saving world history for future generations is a responsibility that all must share. His preservation work, Senat noted, is important because he’s helping to share things that would otherwise be forgotten.

“Cultural heritage is our common resource and it belongs to all of us,” assures Senat. “At a time when we are all determined to minimize our differences from each other for the sake of unity, we also need to understand the cultural heritage of others, and help each other praise our own uniqueness.”

Senat hopes to return to the United States soon to continue fulfilling his dreams. His advice to others: Take advantage of everything that comes your way, and don’t hold back.

“Only after you get here will you see and understand what ‘chance’ means,” he says. “I am feeling that in the U.S. anything is possible. A lot of people are ready to help and map your journey to success."