“My main concern is about making sure that people get as good a treatment as possible in the public sphere regardless of the language they speak.”
In 2007, Vasiljon Cobo left his birthplace, Patos, Albania, to come to Philadelphia. He reached the city of brotherly love speaking fluent Albania, but only broken English that he had learned in elementary school.
Now, he is a trilingual, Interdisciplinary Studies and Spanish dual major who speaks fluent Albanian, English and Spanish. Vasiljon has titled his IDS major Analyzing Language in Conflict. He says that his language and cultural studies have given him the tools to hone a more precise lens for the interpretation of his experience as an immigrant. His major was influenced largely by the classes that he took during his first year at Gettysburg College. His first year seminar, A Clash of Cultures: Turkey and Germany, was a seed of knowledge that revealed how some conflicts can develop through language, and the role of language in conflict resolution. Vasiljon states
“Analyzing Language in Conflict is concerned with placing language under the scrutiny of a number of different disciplines, such as Political Science, Philosophy and Law while still maintaining a focus on language itself and valuing the connection that people have with it.”
Vasiljon studied abroad in Salamanca Spain to broaden his cultural horizons and increase his Spanish fluency. Studying in Spain was an exciting, novel experience that allowed him to better understand Spanish society and the realities of a nation with co-official languages; the topic of his capstone for Analyzing Language in Conflict.
He is grateful for the guidance that he received from all of his professors, but he feels that he was influenced most by professors Portmess, Jurney, and Akbaba. Professor Portmess’ helped Vasiljon focus his ideas. Her course Truth, Language and Reality was fascinating because it allowed him to deconstruct and analyze the use of language at its most fundamental levels. Professor Jurney’s interdisciplinary philosophy was inspirational, and he helped Vasiljon give form to his IDS curriculum. Professor Akbaba taught him a more nuanced view of ethnic conflict and the politics behind it.
Vailjon will graduate in 2014 and he plans to pursue a career as a paralegal and hopes of attending law school. He says that he would like to provide services for people in language minorities.