Youth delegation from Kosovo to arrive in Fort Dodge

A healthy dose of red, white and blue Americana awaits four teenagers from Kosovo who will arrive in Fort Dodge today.

The teens are from Gjakova, which is the sister city of Fort Dodge. It’s located in the Balkan nation of Kosovo, which has had strong ties to Iowa ever since the some of the state’s Army National Guard soldiers went there as peacekeepers about 10 years ago.

“The purpose of their time here in Fort Dodge is to immerse them in Iowa culture,” said Dawn Larson, the city’s economic development specialist who has worked extensively with the sister city program since its beginning.

The visitors are Orges Dervishi, 16; Miftar Pozhari, 18; Elvina Syla, 16; and Adriana Zyberi, 15.

They will arrive in Fort Dodge this afternoon and depart Wednesday afternoon after experiencing the Independence Day parade and other festivities in Gowrie.

The four, plus four other teens who are staying in Johnston, arrived in Iowa on June 25. They’ve been at a 4-H conference at Camp Cloverwood near Madrid since then.

They will be welcomed by Mayor Matt Bemrich and Lt. Col. Michael Wunn of the Iowa Army National Guard at 7:15 p.m. today at the Oleson Park Bandshell, prior to the Karl King Municipal Band concert.

During the concert, the band will play the Kosovo national anthem and a musical tribute to those killed in that country’s war with Serbia, Larson said.

On Monday, the group will visit John F. Kennedy Memorial Park north of Fort Dodge. Their park visit will include a presentation on conservation, a hike and some kayaking.

The Fort Dodge Rotary Club will provide lunch for the students at the park.

Later Monday, the group will visit Iowa Central Community College and the Fort Museum and Frontier Village.

On Tuesday, the group will work with members of Pride In Community Appearance (PICA) on a beautification project near the Almost Home animal shelter on South 32nd Street. They’ll spend the afternoon at Fort Frenzy and Tuesday night, they’ll watch the fireworks there.

That afternoon, they’ll travel to Johnston and get ready to fly out of Des Moines International Airport early Thursday morning.

Four Fort Dodge teenagers will visit Kosovo from Aug. 5 to Aug. 17.

A different group of Fort Dodge teenagers visited Kosovo in August 2017 in the first such exchange.

Fort Dodge and Gjakova became sister cities in December 2016.