Dealing with the Past as a Mission
Dialogue of The Generations
25 April 2016, Tirana – IDMC organized a meeting today with journalism students, entitled Meetings for Europe. As part of the series of meetings for the "Dialogue of the generations" project, it aimed to enhance the culture of reflecting about the past and finding ways how to raise awareness for its acknowledgment in young people through an interdisciplinary approach. The guest, Dr. Lindita Arapi, a reporter for Deutsche Welle, shared her experience with the students.
Executive director of IDMC, Dr. Jonila Godole, opened the meeting and highlighted the role of the foreign correspondents in "translating" international crises. Dr. Arapi gave concrete examples of reporting crises at Deutsche Welle. Firstly, she focused on the emigrant crisis and the role of Germany in the issue, as one of the main players in the European Union. Despite the Albanian case, the interest of the students went further to the role of the German-Turkish relations in handling the issue.
The students showed particular interest for a reportage about the German experience of dealing with the past. They learned how dictatorships are born and survive, as well as Germany's experience on opening secret police files, which reminded them that Albania is many years behind in this regard. The students had the chance to watch two other short news stories from DW, where the differences in the ways the Albanian media reported were noticed. According to the students, DW's stories were informative, briefer and articulated in a clearer language. These helped them understand the message in a shorter time.
At the end of the discussion, the students expressed a wish for Albania to go on the right path with regard to creating an authority for opening the communist era files and taking the German experience as a point of reference. Overall, the meeting was seen by students as a lesson on reflection.
More information about the guest:
Lindita Arapi born 30 June 1972, is an Albanian writer and journalist. She is cited as a great example of a generation of female Albanian writers. She has been living in Germany since the late '90s, and has published several poetry books. Her first book, Am Meer, nachts ("By the sea, at night", 2007) was the first book of poetry written by a female Albanian poet in German. Her first novel, Vajzat me çelës në qafë ("Girls with Keys Around Their Necks", 2010), translated into German in 2012, was awarded the Book of the Year prize in Albania.
Dealing with the Past as a Mission
Albanian dictatorship in school curriculum
14 April 2016, Tirana – In many of IDMC's activities that have aimed at dealing with the past, one of the common conclusions drawn has been related to the way the history and particularly the past of the totalitarian regime in Albania has been taught in school. The coverage of this period, even in the history textbooks, needs improvements. Therefore careful review of the curriculum remains a priority task. This concern was shared by the students of journalism and history at the University of Tirana during a study trip in the former notorious political prison of Spaç. Review of the curriculum should certainly be done by the historians, but history teachers in secondary and high schools should not be ignored as well, for they have the difficult task of addressing dictatorship to a generation born in the years of democracy, who view the historical period as distant.
In order to see how the past has actually been dealt with the past in Albanian high schools, on 14 April 2016 IDMC organized a meeting entitled: Dealing with the past as a mission. The meeting was attended by history teachers from different high schools of Tirana, such as "Qemal Stafa," "A.Z. Çajupi," "Ismail Qemali," "Sami Frashëri," "Partizani," and "Arben Broci".
Director of IDMC and moderator of the meeting, Jonila Godole, emphasized the method used in teaching and concrete examples which should link theory and practice. The classic education methods from top to bottom – where a teacher explains and the pupil applies the knowledge by taking an exam – is insufficient to attract the attention of the new generation about the importance of acknowledging and dealing with the past.
For this reason, participants discussed for an interdisciplinary approach that combines the classic way of teaching with other forms that excite the curiosity of the young people, such as workshops for different topics, movie/documentary screening in class, talks with witnesses of the old time, former political perscutees, experts, study trips to places of memory, creative competitions on this topic etc.
The history teachers reflected on the approach used to acknowledge the past and in particular this period of the totalitarian regime in Albania. They encouraged ideas and proposals for joint projects in the future to include teachers, high school students and other stakeholders, especially those who directly experienced Albania's tough totalitarian regime.
Because of the fact that many young people nowadays say the coverage done to the dictatorship period in schools or universities is neglected, IDMC aims to extend these meetings by including literature and history teachers from high schools in other Albanian cities. Young people often claim to have learned more about the totalitarian regime from their parents than from what they studied in school. Only by reflecting on this situation will we be able to create ways to raise awareness and engage the young people in activities related to the acknowledgment and reflection about the past. Only by confronting the past as it was, without distorting or hiding it, can we achieved objective acknowledgment. Therefore, IDMC considers it is necessary to open a dialogue with history and literature teachers about dictatorship in Albania.