Let’s go lead the world!
To say that Flurim Aliu is driven is an understatement, but it is because he has seen his loved ones separated by war and instability. He has seen his homeland recover from conflict, but it is not yet flourishing. He is determined to drive that change.
The first time Flurim Aliu left home, he hid under the seat of a bus. Only two years old, he was escaping a war.
Born during conflict culminating in the 1998-99 war that dismantled the nation of Yugoslavia, Aliu was among about one million displaced Albanians. For his safety, Aliu’s parents sent him to live with his grandparents in Germany.
“I grew up not really knowing my parents,” he said. “I saw pictures and I heard stories, but I never saw them. I didn’t sit on their laps and listen to fairytales, or go to their room when monsters were hiding under my bed.”
When Aliu returned a few years later, his grandmother told him to hug his father, but he didn’t know who his father was and approached a cousin instead.
For this reason, Aliu sees family time as precious. Although, he chose to leave home again.
“This time I left voluntarily,” he said. “I left to pursue my dream in the land of opportunity.”
That dream is to become a politician who can help lead his young nation of Kosovo to prosperity.
“Even after almost 10 years, my people are still some of the poorest in Europe, and they must still move away from their families to find jobs to feed them,” he said. “I want to change that. Kosovo and I grew up together, and it hurts me to see the condition she is in right now. I want to be a good big brother to her and hold her hand while she learns to walk – so her future and that of her people can be better.”
To accomplish this, Aliu knew he needed a college degree in political science and related experience. Opportunities were rare in Kosovo, so he set his eyes on the United States and GGC.
Aliu came to GGC through a program involving Grace Family of Churches, Kosovo Hope and GGC’s Office of Internationalization. He and his roommate, Joni Elshani, ’17, information technology, were the first from their hometown to come to the U.S. for college through this program. Dave and Tammy Vigliotti of Lilburn and Matt and Kelly Harvie of Grayson provided host homes for the young men while they attended college.
He served as a senator and a director in the Student Government Association and as president of the International Student Association. He also worked in the Student Center as a student engagement specialist.
During summers, Aliu worked as a commissioner for the Kosovo Central Commission of Elections, an intern at the United Nations Populations Fund and an intern in the Department of Economic Diplomacy in the Republic of Kosovo’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
This past fall, Aliu interned at The Carter Center, focusing on the Syria Conflict Mapping Project. He recently obtained a research position with Optimal Solutions Group in Washington, D.C. He plans to continue his studies at either Yale University or the University of Singapore and is determined to make a difference for his home country.
“I came to GGC to learn how to be a good leader. I am confident that I have built a rock-solid foundation for my future in leadership,” Aliu said.
Selected to speak at the 2017 spring commencement, the honors graduate reminded his classmates of their common experiences with the college’s supportive culture and caring faculty. While they did not study the same subjects or all look the same, they shared a unique experience at GGC that will stay with them for the rest of their lives, he highlighted.
“We each came to this college for our own special reasons. And we each are leaving it today with our own special gifts,” Aliu said in closing. “I came to GGC with dreams. I am leaving it with goals and plans for how to achieve them. Thank you, Georgia Gwinnett College, for making this possible! Class of 2017 – let’s go lead the world!”
Read more about the college, its student and alumni in GGC's Engage Magazine.