The Albanian Zalli twins, scientists at Harvard. The story of the two illegal Albanian immigrants who managed to become scientists and lecturers at university.
Dr. Detina Zalli and Dr. Argita Zalli, researchers at the University of Oxford, tell us about their successful life and career in the UK.
The Albanian sisters have been very active during the pandemic period providing information and advice to members of the Diaspora. The twins were interviewed by the afternoon program “Vizioni i Pasdites”.
“We feel very comfortable with this job because it belongs to us. We have put our hearts into it, doing both science and lecturing. We love it. We call ourselves lucky to have a job that is our passion as well. Moreover, we have each other. We cannot be separated. We can work together. It is a very nice thing for two sisters to work in different universities and share the same passion”, says Argita.
“Whenever I have a doubt, the first person that comes to my mind to clarify my thoughts is Argita. Sometimes she advises me, and sometimes she criticizes me. Anyway, thank God I have her because we are stronger together, and thanks to each other, we have reached where we are today”, says Detina.
But their journey has not been easy at all. In 1999, at the age of 13 years old their family left Albania to move towards England. Being illegal, they admit they have done any kind of work to help their parents.
“We left Albania in 1999. It was a difficult journey to England. We were expecting something else because we were told otherwise. We were told we would go by plane. We would leave from Tirana International Airport in Rinas, and everything would be fine”, says Detina.
“We have had our hardships like all Albanians because we all share the same story. It is not only us. We want to emphasize that two 13-year-old Albanian girls had big dreams to leave the country for a brighter future, but we forgot that Albania was the beautiful place where we had spent our childhood. When we came to England the situation changed within a day, we turned into adults, we took on great responsibilities, being translators for our parents, for lawyers or hospitals”, admits Argita.
“We have been working since the age of 13 to help our parents because our life in England was not solid and we could return to Albania again. Everything was uncertain, unclear. It had cost us a fortune to come to England. We were in debt because the trip was very expensive, and we wanted to find a way to help our parents. We have done any kind of work, telling the truth. My first job was working as a waitress for some students, our peers coming from Spain to England. Then, we have worked to help our peers in any way possible, and that incited our great desire to study medicine to help others. We have worked as nursing assistants in a hospital where many people did not know who was who. They always confused us,” says further Detina.
Now both twins are married, each of them has two sons. They live close to each other, and they are inseparable.
“The spouses are Albanians living in London. We live very close. Our little boys attend the same nursery because they are the same age. People often think that they are twins. We have to explain to them that it is not them, it is us “, says Argita.
They have a message for all young people: “The only thing I can say is to never give up and keep working hard. Dream big and wake up with goals”, says Detina.
“To support Detina’s message. All big dreams are difficult otherwise they would not be considered big dreams. Therefore, dream big”, says Argita.