Origination• “According to the Austrian linguist Gustav Meyer (1850– 1900), shqip ("Albanian language"), shqiptar ("Albanian"), and Shqipëria ("Albania") are related to the Albanian verb shqipoj ("to speak clearly") and shqiptoj ("to pronounce") and can be linked to the Latin excipio and excipere ("to listen to, take up, hear"). The Albanologist Maximilian Lambertz (1882–1963) preferred a connection with the Albanian shqipe or shqiponjë ("eagle"), which is the symbol of Albania. The latter explanation may, however, simply be a folk etymology or constitute the reason why Albanians identify themselves with the eagle.” ("Countries and their," 2012)• The name Albania was given by the Romans in the ancient times after a port called Albanopolis, but the Albanians themselves call their country Shiqiptare ("Sons of the Eagle").
History• Albanians descend from the ancient Illyrians.• They were conquered by the Romans in the third century A.D.• They were incorporated into the Byzantine Empire in 395 A.D. and were subjected to foreign invasions.• In 1468 Albania became part of the Ottoman Empire.• In the early nineteenth century their fight for independence intensified.
history• “During World War I, Albania became a protectorate of the Great Powers after a short period of independence in 1912.” (Jurgen, 2012)• In 1920 it regained its independence first as a republic then in 1928 as a monarchy.• In 1939 Italy invaded and occupied Albania.• After WWII it regained it’s independence but under a communist regime.
History• In 1997 an armed rebellion against the government occurred after 30% of the population endured damaged savings due to investment pyramid schemes.• United Nations military intervention allowed for new elections, and a new socialist alliance government.
The first Albanian Americans• Few Albanians came to the United States before the twentieth century.• They are the most recent group to migrate to the United States.• Prior to WW1 they migrated to American because of poor economic conditions, political concerns, or to escape military conscription in the Turkish army.• Another wave of Albanians migrated after Albania came under Communist control in 1944.
• Between 1990-1991, after the fall of communism more Albanians began to enter America.• The implementation of the Green Card lottery was another factor that attributed to the increase of Albanians migrating to America in the 1990’s.• After New York, Michigan, and Illinois, Massachusetts is the fourth largest of the Albanian communities in America.
Albanian Cultural Groups• Albanians can be divided into two cultural groups; the northern Albanians also known as Ghegs, and the southern Albanians also known as Tosks.• Dialect and cultural differences divide the two groups.• Both groups identify strongly with the common national and ethnic culture.
Their Culture• The eagle is the national symbol of the Albanians. It is a symbol of freedom and heroism in their oral literature and folklore. Albanians refer to themselves as the “Sons of the Eagle”.• “The eagle appears in a stone carving dating from 1190, the time of the so-called first Albanian principality, known as Arbanon, and was used as a heraldic symbol by a number of ruling families in Albania in the late Middle Ages, including the Castriotta (Kastrioti), the Muzakaj (Myzeqe), and the Dukagjini. A black double-headed eagle also was placed by the national hero Scanderbeg on his flag and seal. This form of the eagle, deriving from the banner of the Byzantine Empire, has been preserved as an ethnic symbol by the Arberesh of southern Italy.” ("Countries and their," 2012)• The Albanian flag is red with a black double headed eagle.• The flag was officially raised on November 28, 1912 marking the declaration of their independence.
Religion• Albanians have never had a national religion.• Albania’s borders are divided between three religions: Roman Catholicism, Greek Orthodoxy, and Islam.• “One can estimate today that approximately 70 percent of Albanians in the republic are of Muslim, including Bektashi, background; about 20 percent, mostly in the south, are Orthodox; and about 10 percent, mostly in the north, are Catholic.” ("Countries and their," 2012)
Family & Community• Many Albanian Americans are influenced by the Kanun, which is an ancient set of civil, criminal, and family laws.• “It sets forth rights and obligations regarding the church, family, and marriage. The code is based on the concepts of honor ( bessa ) and blood; the individual is obligated to guard the honor of family, clan, and tribe. The rights and obligations surrounding the concept of honor have often led to the blood feud ( gjak ), which frequently lasts for generations.” (Jurgen, 2012)• After the fall of communism American lawyers brought the code to the attention of the Albanian lawyers to help Albania codify their new legislation. In 1994 an article in the NY Times stated, the code is “the central part of their legal and cultural identity.”
Family Roles• A traditional Albanian household is patriarchy, meaning the head of the household is the eldest male.• The principle roles of a wife consist of keeping the house and raising the children.• Children have the duty of honoring their parents and respecting their wishes.• The role of women has shifted over the years. Today many feel caught between two worlds, feeling obligated to conform to the standards of their community but at the same time wanting to become “Americanized”.
Women’s Role• Girls are not given the same freedom as the boys and are not encouraged “to go out” but rather to stay home and learn domestic skills.• Girls attend school through high school and are not encouraged to pursue a higher education or career after graduation.• After graduating and before marriage the women often help with the family business.• The women’s first obligation is to marry and raise a family.• They usually marry at an early age.
Customs & Traditions• Weddings traditionally are arranged by the parents, intermediary, or matchmaker.• The festivities begin a week prior to the wedding. They include: an engagement ceremony; celebrations at the bride and grooms households; and relatives visiting and preparing food.• After the ceremony a reception follows. Around midnight the bride and groom go in opposite directions with their family and friends and fill two containers from three different bodies of water. At each body of water coins are tossed for anyone to pick up.• Birthdays are not traditionally observed. Instead the family observes “names day” for the saint after whom the person is named. The person can be wished, “happy nameday” or “good health and a long life”.
Health & Wellness• Some Albanians believe that illness is caused by unfavorable climate, poor eating, or physical or psychological oppression.• A lack of familiarity with mental illness leads many to believe it stems from evil.• Albanians believe that telling the patient directly of the condition may make it worse.• Albanians may not want to bathe or wash their hair due to the belief that they may get sick.• Due to infrequent utilization of healthcare in their native country they are often reluctant to seek services and therefore may present with chronic conditions.
Economic Traditions• Albanians that came to the US were either from rural areas and farmed or urban areas and worked as small shopkeepers and tradesmen.• A large population who settled in Massachusetts found work the American Optical Company in Southbridge or the textile mills of New Bedford. Others worked as cooks, waiters, and bellhops.• They soon began to open their own businesses. The most successful were fruit stores and restaurants. By 1925 Albanians owned over 300 grocery and fruit stores in the Greater Boston area.• Today Albanians are employed in a variety of professions and enterprises.
Statistics• According to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data, there are 3,190 Albanian-American living in Boston; 15, 852 Albanians living in Massachusetts; and 193,183 total number of Albanian-Americans living in the United States.• Of these Albanians-Americans, 107,108 are Albanian born citizen, and 86,075 are a U.S. born citizen.
Barriers to Education• The Albanian school system was in chaos in 1991 due to widespread vandalism and an extreme shortage of textbooks and supplies.• Many teachers relocated from rural to urban areas.• “The highly structured and controlled educational environment that the communist regime had painstakingly cultivated in the course of more than forty- six years was abruptly shattered and had to be rebuilt.” (Jurgen, 2012)• There has also been an effort to adopt the Western model where the student is the center of the education system opposed to the current Eastern model where the teacher holds the dominant role.
Barriers to Education• Albanian women were not encouraged to pursue an education or career after high school like the men were.• Education was not viewed with the same importance and value as it is in America.• Albanian Americans did not want their children to go to American schools when they first arrived here.• Gradually they accepted the fact that an education provided the foundation for a better way of life in America.
cultural competence• “Cultural competence is the ability to successfully teach students who come from cultures other than our own. It entails developing certain personal and interpersonal awareness and sensitivities, developing certain bodies of cultural knowledge, and mastering a set of skills that, taken together, underlie effective cross-cultural teaching.” ("Promoting educators cultural," 2008)• States can increase their educator’s cultural competence through: pre-service education, ongoing professional development, and licensure• There are four basic cultural competence skill areas that apply to individual educators, to the schools where they work, and to the educational system as a whole.
Cultural Competence1. Valuing Diversity – Being respectful of different ways of communication, values, traditions, cultural backgrounds, and customs.2. Being Culturally Self-Aware – Understanding that educator’s own culture shapes the sense of who they are and how they fit into their family, school, community, and society, and how they interact with students.3. Understanding the dynamics of cultural interactions – being aware that there are many factors that can affect interactions across cultures.4. Institutionalizing cultural knowledge and adapting to diversity – The educational services are designed with the understanding of the students’ cultures.
Lesson Plan• One of the most important aspects of Albanian immigrants was their strong sense of nationalism and their desire to cultivate the Albanian culture and traditions in the US.• Ask the class, What could we do to help promote this? Brainstorm and list ideas on the board. Group students into groups of 4-5. Have them work together and choose one of the ideas off the board. Making sure there are no duplicates allow each group to choose that main idea and research it and present their information to the class at a later date.• Once all of the information has been shared have a discussion as a whole group about the benefits of this exercise? Have the class come to an understanding of how important it is to educate yourself about other cultures. Ask them how they could go about educating their friends, family, school, and community about other cultures.
Extension of Lesson• As an extension to this lesson, the class could work on finding out about all of the cultures within their school.• Once they know of the many cultures that exist among them daily, they could be divided up into small groups again and research the different cultures.• Each group can present their culture and what they learned. Encourage dressing the part, talking the part, and acting out cultures to really get the class involved and excited.• Their research could also be used in a monthly school newsletter. Everything from facts, statistics, community resources, local events, and cultural traditions can be addressed in the newsletter.
Community Resources• Friendly House in Worcester offers programs for Albanians• New Albanian School opened in Worcester MA, 2010• The Albanian Language and Heritage School, Boston MA• The Albanian Language School Kostandin Kristoforidhi, West Roxbury MA• Seventh Annual “Besa Cup” Albanian Soccer Tournament at Millennium Park in West Roxbury• Albanian Festivals (Every other year St. Mary’s Assumption Albanian Orthodox church hosts one of areas largest festivals. 20,000 attend the three day event) (located other festivals in Southbridge & Waterbury MA)
Community Resources• Albanian American Civic League• Albanian American National Organization (AANO). Located in Worcester, MA.• WCUW-FM - Albanian hour, the oldest continuous Albanian radio program in the country. Located in Worcester, MA.• Bashkimi Dance group
Internet Resources• http://www.lonweb.org/link-albanian.htm (Has all links for information about and for Albanians from online courses, radio stations, books, newspapers, and etc…)• http://www.albanianworld.us/community.htm (website based out of Massachusetts for Albanians)• www.maasbesa.org/ - 2006 Non-profit Massachusetts Albanian American Society, dedicated to promote the well-being and progress of the Albanian American community in MA.• www.albanianfestival.org/ - Worcester festival• http://www.yahoo.ca/Society_and_Culture/Cultures_and_Grou ps/Cultures/Albanian/• http://www.albanian.com/main
Sources1. Jurgen, J. (2012). Albanian Americans. Retrieved from http://www.everyculture.com/multi/A-Br/Albanian-Americans.html2. Countries and their cultures - Albania. (2012). Retrieved from www.everyculture.com/A-Bo/Albania.html3. D-Zign, Z. (n.d.). Albanian world. Retrieved from www.albanianworld.us/community.htm4. Lamar Soutter Library. (2012, May). Retrieved from http://libraryguides.umassmed.edu/content.php?pid=94770&sid=110866 75. Promoting educators cultural competence to better serve culturally diverse students . (2008). Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/PB13_CulturalCompetence08.pdf