The 5 last June, the children of the Scanderbeg School of Parma celebrated the closure of the first year together with their parents and teachers. Undisputed protagonists, at the end of the show - a contest prepared by them, the little ones also received the certificates. We were there.
"When you start recording, do this, that's fine!" Jora and Debora repeat several times, pointing to the sign of the hand with her hand. Surprised by so much security, I ask her why I am looking for the recorder in my pockets. "And if not, let's not leave!", They reply. Puff, exclaiming in amazement: they only have 9 and 10 years. I called with the other children of the Scanderbeg School of Parma to talk to them about this experience. From October last year, every Saturday afternoon, Amina, Debora, Esmeralda, Fisnik, Flavio, Flori, Jora, Ledion, Melisa, Rone, Saimir, Sidni, Shaje, boys and girls from 6 to 12 years, for the most part born in Italy, they attended Albanian language and culture classes.
Today is the big day. In Villa Fulcini, San Polo in Torrile, near Parma, the end of the first year of the Scanderbeg School and the 1st of June is celebrated. Although little known, it is the International Children's Day proclaimed in 1925 by the World Conference on Child Welfare in Geneva. After World War II it was adopted by the whole communist block of the East, including Albania, where it became a tradition.
The party takes place inside EtnoGusti, an initiative that Scanderbeg and other associations from Parma organize for the fourth consecutive year. Their parents, members and activists of the Scanderbeg Association are visibly enthusiastic.First, Anila Kadija, the director of the school. On the way by car he did nothing but talk to me about the certificates, their symbolic value and the personalized judgments they gave to the children together with the other teachers. Then Gentian Alimadhi, the President, bermudas and broom in hand, tries to explain the program to me a little while he and the others set up the venue for the show. Instead Durim Lika, organizational director of the Association, repeated to me throughout the afternoon the importance of the event, and also because of the interleaving of the timbre of his voice, I begin to wait for him with a certain anxiety, that of great occasions.
Everything seems ready now. Amid the greenery of Villa Fulcini, a rectangle of concrete that could serve as a dance floor and a stage. All around chairs arranged in the shape of a waning moon. In the center, under the stage, two white tables covered by the red flag with the black bicep eagle. The somewhat intimidated children come forward. In front of their parents, grandparents and uncles. "At the beginning we had to work to adopt a single program. Age and different levels of language proficiency made it difficult. Some children did not speak Albanian, others did not write it, and others were very advanced, "says Anila. But he believed in it with the other teachers: Brunilda Hoxha, Albanian speaking, Erlinda Pjeçi, of history and Ardjana Rushiti, of geography, all volunteers. With so much passion they managed to find the necessary harmony with families and children to arrive at today's party. Anila is a river in flood. It lists in detail the progress and the will shown by each child. For example, Rone, at first spoke little, was insecure, but today he communicates and writes in Albanian without fear. Or Shaja, the youngest, who still does not go to school, actively participated and even wrote in her notebook copying from the blackboard, although she did not know the letters. Instead Flavio, as his parents tell, whenever he has guests from Albania, he talks about the school. During the year, Anila noticed that children were very attracted to dialogues and learning like a theater game. Even today's one is a kind of show - competition, organized with the music teacher Elvira Lika.It is now. You hear someone speaking into the microphone. The show is presented by two girls Greta and Esmeralda. Quiz with questions about grammar, history, geography, and then poetry, songs. Obviously everything in the Albanian language. He raises his hand, he answers. "How many times does the Albanian have? What is the school plural? With which states is Albania confined? What are the main lakes? ". All simple questions but invaluable. After each reply, applause and exclamations. Children melt away. It's up to the poems. I am struck by "L'Eredità", poetry of the great Lasgush Poradeci, performed by Esmeralda, and in particular the verse "My shadow knows no violence, but only inspiration of freedom". Follow other poems by great Albanian poets and one by Ungaretti, also in Albanian. Even Shaja, the youngest, recites her. At the end, standing ovation. Needless to try to describe the expression on his face.
The show is over. The little students are galvanized, their faces breathe happiness. Here is Anila, papyrus in hand, Gentian, Elvira, the teachers Brunilda, Erlinda and Ardjana, to deliver the certificates and, surprise, gifts for everyone. My turn has come. I ask the children to go to a secluded place for our chat, but only Jora and Debora follow me. The girls had to do a fashion show that was postponed until later and they are a little in turmoil, instead the children are already on the lawn playing with the ball. I resort to the help of Anila who, now in the role of the cook, I see her coming from the kitchen of Villa Fulcini with an apron on her.
"Give the go!" They scold in chorus. By now they put me in the middle. How exhausting! "Street!". Start Jora. "My name is Jora, I am nine years old, I live in Lesignano". I'm going to ask you a question about the Albanian language school, but Debora is very eager to talk. "My name is Debora, I was born in Val di Paro, I live in Parma. I have 9 and a half years. I go to the Albanian school in Parma, organized by an association of which my father is a partner together with my mother. In this school I learned to speak a lot of Albanian and to deepen the things I already knew ". Caspiterina, all in one breath! Several reasons why children attend school. Debora says she is "passionate about speaking Albanian" and learning it because it is the language of her parents and her origins. The same goes for Greta, 12 years, born in Parma, who followed only the first lessons because she could not go more than Saturday. Furthermore, she is convinced that she will serve her in the future when she is older. Ledion, 7 years, he studies it because "so when he goes to Albania, he knows how to answer in Albanian". Before he could not communicate much, instead in a year, his words, he made so much progress. I let out a "let alone in two or three years". Ride. Also at Fisnik, 7 years and a half, likes to speak Albanian and then "wanted to learn so many things". Like Ledion, a year ago he had difficulties but today he speaks at home with his parents and grandparents in Albania. Both return to play football, but the girls have long been preparing for the show.
What greater luck than being bilingual at this age? For parents who are not yet convinced or do not find the time to reflect on this aspect, the teaching of the mother tongue is not only a question of roots but is important for the cognitive development of children. This is demonstrated by the experience of the Scanderbeg School. Anila is confident that next year there will be new registrations. Meanwhile, all those of the first year have been confirmed and together with the Association will want to involve the schools of the first cycle to have more support and spread their initiative among the parents.
In truth, neither of us knows the news while we are talking. Thanks to the school's year-end party, the Association has achieved another goal. The next day he calls me Durim. "We've had new registrations," he says, almost moved.
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