Albanian teachers train in U.S. Learning: Four women from Tirana, Albania, study classroom aids, methods at Anne Arundel Community College.

June 23, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

In one day, Martineta Leka made $200 selling hot dogs from her hot dog stand.

But the money was just part of a computer simulation Leka and three other Albanian high school teachers were using at Anne Arundel Community College.

"For me, it was a fun thing," the 23-year-old accounting instructor said. "It was something new."

Leka, Brikena Baxhaku, Rozi Beqiri, and Iliriana Lolja spent 10 days at the community college, learning different methods of teaching mathematics and science, and using computer programs to improve their skills.

The women -- all of whom are teachers at the Harry T. Fultz Technical School in Tirana, Albania -- were sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development and Partners for International Education and Training. The two groups have recruited 8,000 instructors from underdeveloped countries this year to learn about new technologies and teaching methods.

This is the third year in a row that teachers from the Fultz Technical School have participated in the program, said Dr. Peter Pelham, who is coordinating their monthlong stay.

The school was established after World War I. The Balkan nation was devastated, and the Red Cross built the school to help speed reconstruction by teaching Albanians technological skills and English, Pelham said.

But after World War II, a dictatorship closed the country's borders. For the next 40 years, trade, religion and freedom of speech suffered, Pelham said.

"Anything related to Western thinking or philosophy was completely forbidden," he recalled. "It was a very xenophobic time."

The school was downgraded to a public school, Pelham said. Only after the death of the dictator, Enver Hoxha, in 1985 did the school regain its once-prominent stature as a school for students seeking careers in advanced technology.

The Fultz school differs greatly from American schools, the Albanian teachers said.

"There are a lot of equipment we don't use," said Baxhaku, 34, who is head of the mathematics and computers department. "For math, it was very interesting using the graphing calculator. We don't have that."

Beqiri, who teaches math, said she was impressed by the way American teachers from different departments help each other.

"The math teachers are apart from the biology teachers, but they still work together," Beqiri, 31, said.

The teachers will study at the University of Maryland at College Park for two more weeks before returning home.

"The most interesting thing is the experience," Baxhaku said. "We have seen new things here, and I think they will help us in our teaching."

Pub Date: 6/23/96

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