Author: Iden Kalemaj (UWC Adriatic 2012 – 2014)
A SEED Project, standing for Student Engagement in Education and Development, is a project organized voluntarily by students in their countries, which aims, as the name states, to engage young people in helping to improve educational conditions.
When in UWC, I was amazed by the amount of experiments teachers and students performed in science classes, which helped students not only to learn by practice, but also to become passionate about the subject. This lacked in the educational system in my countries and I thought that if students had a more “hands-on” experience in science classes, there wouldn’t be such a strong dislike for these subjects. Imagine how much better it would be if students had the opportunity to experience this kind of teaching since in early stages of educations.
These thoughts inspired my idea to organize in Albania a SEED project with the theme: “Making science enjoyable for children” The aim was to organize a “science class” with children in which we performed simple experiments and explained to children the principles behind these experiments. This would not only give the children a taste of what science really is and how beautifully it works, but also give to the teachers in the schools we visited the message that through a bit of effort and simple tools, which can be found in our houses, science classes could become a joy to children.
Peter, from Bahamas, and Alpcan, from Turkey, joined this project. We arrived in my city, Vlora the 24th of May. Using books and internet we managed to make a list of simple experiments that we would than show to the children. For an entire week we visited 5 different schools and we performed these experiments with fifth-grade children. The amount of enthusiasm and curiosity children showed was unexpected but very encouraging for us. For example, they were amazed by an experiment with the needle: if you feel a water of glass to the top and place a needle on the surface of water it will not sink because of surface tension. But the cherry on the cake was the volcano experiment: mixing baking soda, vinegar and dish liquid we managed to produce something very similar to the explosion of a volcano.
In the schools we visited we did not miss the opportunity to promote the UWC opportunity with 9th grade students, so that next year they could have the opportunity to apply for these colleges.
Part of the project was also sightseeing in Albania so that the participants could know its culture and history. After Vlora, the city of Independence, we visited the capital Tirana, putting emphasis on the National Historic Museum and the Art Gallery. Kruja, with the castle and the Museum of Gjergj Kastriot Skenderbeu, was our next destination. After a visit to the famous Catholic church “Shna Ndou” in Laç we went to Kosovo. Kosovo was part of the project, as a country which shares the same language, history and ethnicity with Albania. There we visited Prizren, the city of the famous “League of Prizren” and the capital Prishtina. Sibel from Kosovo, also a student of UWC, was our guide in this part of the project. After days of travelling Peter and Alpcan admitted they had gained a very wide knowledge of two countries about which they knew nothing before.
The project successfully ended the 11th of June. It was one of the most important experiences of my life. I felt happy for the small contribution I had given to education in my country but also for the new perspective with which I managed to view my country during the journey.