From Kosovo to Los Angeles: This wartime refugee is now living the American dream

Gezim Gashi

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31-year-old Gezim Gashi is living his dream as an entertainment entrepreneur in Los Angeles. He describes his life as “charming”, but the author’s earliest days were anything but that.

Gashi was born in Pristina, Kosovo, in 1990. Just three days later, the parliament declared independence from Serbia, prompting a military invasion.

Serbian soldiers stormed the hospital newborn Gezim was staying in. Rumors swirled that a genocide was underway and soldiers were giving children injections to make them ill — or worse. His mother panicked when a nurse told her soldiers were making their way towards their floor and had barricaded the hospital doors. That’s when she called her husband and her brother and told them to come to the hospital.

Faced with no other choice, the desperate mom tossed her newborn out of a second floor window into the arms of her brother. His mother snuck out of the hospital moments later to reunite with the family. Two years later, the family escaped to Sweden as refugees, and Gashi’s mother took care to shield him from his grim past. (Years later, it’s difficult to know exactly what happened inside the hospital, but by 1999, 8,000 Kosovo-Albanians had been killed, and many are still missing to this day.)

When he turned 10, Gashi’s mother decided it was time he learned about his remarkable origin story. “That story just made me understand that I have a purpose to fulfill,” said Gashi. “Through the years, I realized that my purpose was through education and giving back to the younger generation.”

While in Sweden, the music lover found his calling: mentoring budding stars. That’s when he joined the Academy of Music and Business, helping launch new voices into the industry as a producer, mentor, and talent scout. Soon after, he was recruited to take his talents to Los Angeles. In 2019, he moved to the city of his dreams to launch the Institute of Arts and Innovation at Oaks Christian School, where he currently runs the department’s mentorship program. Recently, Quincy Jones signed one of his students.

Gashi’s journey from Kosovo to Los Angeles has brought him speaking engagements at Harvard University and inspired many. Now, he’s channeled his personal success story into a self-help book, “Unlocked: The Power of You.”

“While my book does tell my story, it also speaks to the reader and helps them find their own purpose,” he told The Post. Throughout, he teaches readers how to unleash the power of their dreams, build resilience, collaborate creatively, and more.

“There are a lot of people who live with a perception of who they should be, but I believe we have to claim our own narrative,” Gashi said. “My book is all about finding your purpose.”


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