Every single human has a story.
Pain, suffering, determination, and hope are common themes that run through everyone’s life. No matter who you pass in the hallways on the way to class, whether it be a student or professor, each person has their own unique backstory.
The college experience is an opportunity to gain a global perspective on different ideas, issues, and solutions. The diversity that college campuses offer allow us to become more culturally sensitive through learning from the many people around us.
An excellent example of global perspective that every one of us can learn from is Dr. Perparim Gutaj, a political science professor at both the South City and Taylorsville Redwood campuses.
At just eighteen years of age, Gutaj left his native homeland of Kosovo right in the heart of the Kosovo conflict between the Albanians and the Serbians. Through his work in both teaching and academic research, Gutaj aims to analyze and share the arduous journey of Kosovo’s ethnic cleansing and fight for independence, in order to spread knowledge to mainstream society and prevent others from making these same mistakes.
The Kosovo conflict was the war between the Kosovo Liberation Army, the Serbian special police, and Yugoslav armed forces between 1998-1999. Research from a study done by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Evaluation and Policy Analysis Unit in February of 2000 estimated that approximately 850,000 Albanians were expelled from Kosovo by June 1999.
Gutaj was one of the many Kosovo Albanians emigrating to the United States in 1999. Other locations that received a large number of Kosovo refugees include Germany, Switzerland, and the region of Scandinavia. Through the U.S. refugee resettlement process, Gutaj and his family were sent to Salt Lake City, where he still remains to this day.
Gutaj has worked both at the University of Utah and Salt Lake Community College, where he specializes in U.S., international, and comparative politics.
Anyone who attends one of Gutaj’s classes will be able to grasp how passionate he is about sharing his knowledge with his students. He encourages mid-class discussions while remaining objective in his personal opinion.
While his life experiences give Gutaj a unique perspective on the world, it appears that Gutaj learns just as much from the students he teaches as the students learn from his teachings in class.