There are currently more students studying Albanian at Mercy College than at any other college in New York State, according to Alan Hartman, D.M.L., director of Mercy College’s Modern Foreign Languages Program. Mercy is also the only college in New York that allows students to complete their general education language requirements in Albanian. The Modern Foreign Languages Program recently added two Albanian courses to the curriculum: ALBA 115 “Albanian for Communication” and ALBA 116 “Communicating in Albanian.”
“Albanian is an important language in our immediate community and an important language in the Balkans,” Hartman said. Dobbs Ferry is in the heart of the largest Albanian diaspora in the Americas with an estimated 50,000 to 200,000 Albanian Americans living in the area, especially in the Bronx and Westchester County. Hartman described Albanian as a “very cosmopolitan language” and explained that it is spoken in Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and parts of Bosnia, Serbia, Greece and Italy.
After noting how many Albanian-American students attend Mercy, Hartman asked them if they would like to formally study Albanian. There was overwhelming interest, so he began exploring the possibility of adding Albanian courses. He spoke with faculty members at Arizona State University and Utah’s Brigham Young University, as well as the authors of an Albanian language textbook published by the University of Wisconsin Press, to learn more about how to introduce Albanian courses at Mercy.
“At Mercy, we're able to determine the exact resources that we need and how to best serve our particular student population,” he said. “That’s different than many other institutions. This program helps us all stand out as the promising scholars and unique academic community that we are.”
Hartman hired alumna Greta Luka, M.S. ’20, a school psychologist and native Albanian speaker who works full time in a Westchester public school, to teach ALBA 115 “Albanian for Communication” this semester. “I loved my experience at Mercy,” she said. “When I saw that this course was being developed and offered, there wasn't a question in my mind about teaching it.” Hartman expects most students to continue to ALBA 116 “Communicating in Albanian” next semester, so Mercy plans to offer both courses starting next semester.
Hartman said that Mercy may one day offer an Albanian Studies Program, which would enable students to minor in Albanian. “These courses can create a very interesting bridge between Mercy, the local Albanian-American community, and universities abroad such as the University of Pristina in Kosovo,” he said. “There's more to come.”