It’s an odd feeling, the one I have after having completed my 2-year degree. It feels like September 2020 was a lifetime ago, and simultaneously like it was just last week. As I look back and reflect on these 2 years spent in the US – I am equally proud and humbled by the lessons I’ve learned, the things I’ve experienced, and by how different of a person I feel.
At the University of Minnesota, I learned how to do research (or at least I’d like to think so – research is HARD), how to use so many educational tech tools, how to choose them, and eventually, I got to design them. I learned how incredibly effective and engaging online learning can be when we have the right tools and when we know how to use them. How online learning can be a valuable alternative to ‘traditional’ in-classroom education and a great way to foster life-long learning. During these 2 years, I got to work with and learn from some great teachers. Teachers are not only there to show you, but to guide you so you can see for yourself. I loved the space that I was given to learn about and look into what I was interested in, not just what the curriculum ‘says’.
As part of my thesis project, I designed a 5 module online course designed for Albanian teachers that are looking for a synthesized resource on how to get started with Edtech. This was definitely the most exciting project I have worked on in years, and I look forward to continuing it when I am back in Albania. I want to build an online hub where teachers from all over Albania and beyond can log in and access a variety of online training and courses that help them not only with how to use tech tools but also with any other soft skill that they might need. The world of Edtech is so incredibly vast and I am excited to work on bringing a piece of this puzzle to our education. I am grateful to my advisor who gave me space to research into and build the bases of the work on this project.
Knowing that if I could go back in time, I would choose the same program again, is such a reassuring feeling. I would definitely come here again. Not only because of all that I mentioned above but also because of the lessons I’ve learned by just living in Minnesota and the US. I am going back home with a feeling that life is what you make of it. The US is not perfect, life here is definitely not.
In many aspects, it’s easier than Albania, in others not so much. BUT there is “something in the air” here – and that something to me has been the awareness that you have to do what you can with what you have. It’s easy to find reasons why you shouldn’t, why you can’t, why it will be hard, but you have to give it a try, your best try. I hope I carry this feeling when I go back to Albania and things inevitably get tougher but also hopefully better.
I am so thankful for the AADF and Biberaj Foundation and I will forever cherish the growth and change I experienced only through your support. THANK YOU!
©️ Megi Shuke completed a degree in Educational/Instructional Technology at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota.