Taste of Kosovo

Taste of Kosovo fundraiser is Friday

-Submitted photo
Colorful dishes of Kosovar food will be served at the Taste of Kosovo fundraiser Friday night at Willow Ridge Golf Course and Restaurant.

Iowa Central Community College culinary arts students will be dishing up authentic Kosovar food on Friday during a fundraiser that will help support a youth exchange between Fort Dodge and its sister city of Gjakova, Kosovo.

The fundraiser, called Taste of Kosovo, will be held Willow Ridge Restaurant and Golf Course, 1788 Madison Ave., from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Fort Dodge and Gjakova became sister cities in December 2016. A youth exchange began in 2017.

“The purpose is to share information and create awareness about our sister city partnership and initiative with our sister city,” Dawn Larson, an economic development specialist for the city’s Engineering, Business Affairs and Community Growth Department, said. “But also create an awareness on the Kosovo culture — the food and some of the traditions.”

Tickets are $30 and can be purchased at Hy-Vee.

-Submitted photo
Kosovar cuisine is served here during the 2018 Taste of Kosovo fundraiser. Similar dishes will be served again at the Taste of Kosvo event Friday night.

A silent auction will also be held during the evening.

Brig. Gen. Steven H. Warnstadt, of the Iowa Army National Guard, will be a guest speaker.

Warnstadt served as deputy director of the NATO advisory team in Kosovo from October 2012 to September 2013.

The funds raised will cover the 4-H State Conference, flight, camp costs, travel, food and activities while students are in Kosovo.

“The youth exchange is solely funded through donations and fundraisers,” Larson said. “The youth definitely put forth a lot of effort to identify, organize, and initiate fundraisers, but this event helps pay for some additional costs as well.”

Students are required to contribute by developing and participating in multiple fundraising events.

According to Larson, students raised almost $2,000 through various fundraising events in 2018.

Some fundraising events included designing and selling Youth Exchange T-shirts, designing a fundraising site, organizing fundraising events at local restaurants, and holding a special “Jeans Day” at the schools.

Jolene Hays, a counselor at Fort Dodge Senior High, developed an International Culture Club in 4-H.

Hays and Abby Stanek, youth program specialist at Iowa State University Extension, chair the Youth Exchange committee.

“Students will go through some 4-H training in order to better prepare them to better ambassadors for Iowa when they are in Kosovo,” Larson said. “The 4-H state conference is part of the incoming youth exchange.”

Larson said a key part of the exchange is providing community service.

“When our students are in Kosovo, they partner with other international students on a community service project,” she said. “And when Kosovo students are here we also plan a community service project.”

During the last exchange, students designed a piece of art that was applied to a wall outside of Gjakova, according to Larson.

“It was a community beautification project that highlighted the importance of cross cultural acceptance,” she said.

In Fort Dodge, Kosovo students worked with PICA to complete a landscaping project for the Almost Home Humane Society of North Central Iowa.

“There was a challenge with stray animals in Kosovo, so we thought it would be a good initiative for students to understand and take with them back to Kosovo to make an impact on the stray animals there,” Larson said.

Kosovar youth will travel to Iowa in June 2019.

Fort Dodge students will travel to Kosovo in July 2019.

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