In January 2016, I was acquainted with a wonderful lady called Rose Dosti. She has been coming to Albania off and on since 1991. Almost immediately, after hearing her story, I decided that it would be a great opportunity to do a short interview to tell her story and the story of the project that she has been leading for many years now. Most importantly, I was eager to share her story because of its greater value with regard to the history of Albania and its people. In the interest of clarity I decided that the best article format would be as an interview with her.
P.S. On 15 February 2016, Rose Dosti was awarded the Key to the City by Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj!
So, who is Rose Dosti?
I am an Albanian American, daughter of patriotic Albanian parents, wife of Luan Dosti (Albanian). Born and raised in New York City, where our parents instilled a patriotic love in me and my sister.
My husband was the son of Hasan Dosti, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court during the time of King Zog. I and shortly after.
For some 35 years, I worked at the L.A. Times in their soft news section, (lifestyle, travel, features, etc.). After retirement I taught journalism at UCLA and at Santa Monica College.
My First visit to Albania was back in 1991, at the fall of Communism. This was the time when my husband, Luan Dosti, reunited with his seven siblings after 47 years of separation. All members of the family had been interned and imprisoned from 1945 to 1991.
As a journalist I knew that the story of my husband’s family was also the story of many an Albanian who were persecuted during Communism. This story had to be told, but I wasn’t sure how to do it.
Then, I won a Fulbright Grant to lecture on journalism subjects at the University of Tirana in Albania. While in Albania, I realized that the best way to tell the story was by doing a short film, which resulted in a 12 minute short documentary entitled “Prison Nation: Albania, 1945-1991” that I was able to take back to the U.S.A. to tell people about that period. Then, I realized that the best thing to do was to start interviewing survivors. That’s when the idea of The Albanian Human Rights Project (AHRP) was created. “Prison Nation” and another short film, “Lost Voices Making History” (in Albanian) can be viewed on our website.
What are you doing in Albania?
I have returned to Albania since my first visit in 1991 several times to guest-lecture at the University of Tirana and teach English conversation and writing at the Abraham Lincoln Center. With an Albanian film team we continue to film testimonies of former Albanian political prisoners under the Communist regime as part of the Albanian Human Rights Project (AHRP).
What can you tell us about AHRP?
In 2008, with a group of likeminded Americans and Albanian-Americans we founded the Albanian Human Rights Project (AHRP), dedicated to filming and preserving the testimonies of former political prisoners under the Communist regime from 1944-1991, as documented history for scholarly study, education and inspiration now and in the future. Our Honorary Board includes the first American Ambassador to Albania in 1991 and the daughter of Harry Fullz, founder of the first American School in Albania.
Since 2008, AHRP has filmed 101 testimonies with the help of an Albanian team. The films are now accessible at the University of So. California Digital Library and curated at the Wende Museum of the Cold War in Los Angeles and, in Albania at the National Albanian Archive and the Institute for Albanian Studies.
Interested scholars or educators may contact the AHRP via email at: [email protected] or check the website for more information.