Teacher Training Seminar

In Kosovo we had a very good working relationship with two elderly ladies from Save the Children. Their charitable projects consisted of repairing and renovating kindergartens. When each one was ready to open, there would generally be a dedication ceremony with school administration and local government officials in attendance. Our lady friends asked if we would like to take part, and we agreed to stage our children’s program with fun action songs in the local language, games, and meaningful theater at each dedication.

One day while visiting the ladies’ office, I overheard someone talking on the phone about how they had an allocation of money designated towards multi-ethnic teacher training, but time was running out, and if the money was not spent by the end of the month, they would lose it. They had the Albanian and Serbian teachers and school directors chosen to attend the training, but they had no one to present the seminar. I told him we could do that, since we were specialists in early education, and they were very thankful.

It was a three day affair that would take place at a posh lake-front hotel in the touristic town of Ohrid in Macedonia, and would pay 400 euros each for three presenters, plus generous pay for our local Serbian translator who was one of our trainees. The venue needed to be in a neutral location like Macedonia in order to avoid any ethnic conflict between the attendees. At first the two groups would flock together, sitting separately from each other in the sessions and at meals. We identified this as a problem that needed to be resolved since the theme of the seminar was ethnic integration. So on the second day, as the attendees came in to the meeting room, we asked them to draw a number from the hat and to please sit in the designated place, thereby mixing the groups and breaking down the walls of division. Soon the numbers were no longer needed, as they were all voluntarily sitting with those from the opposite side, chatting together at meals, and learning that we are all the same at heart.