“Professor Dr. Shpresa Delija: Championing the Importance of Education”
By Elizabeth Esguerra Castillo
“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” – Malcom X
“To have a better society we educators in the world have to shift our teaching from content-based into life-skills based teaching. Through educating the generations, do the teaching!
Teacher! Be a good example to become a perfect reflection of your students!”- Prof. Dr. Shpresa Delija
For our next Special Interview Feature, we are going to introduce to you a well-respected and esteemed personality, Professor Dr. Shpresa Delija from Albania! We will get to learn about how she champions education and how she tells people why it is important to continuously educate ourselves.
Prof. Dr. Shpresa Delija gained a successful record of teaching and teacher training experiences in Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia. She was also a contributor in the Albanian Reforms in Education in Albania and has been in the teaching field for 46 years now. Prof. Dr. Delija has been pro-active in pre-service and in in-service student teachers’ training and she has been the President of ELTA Albania (English Language Association) for 8 consecutive years and even organized more than 32 conferences in the country.
Moreover, Prof. Dr. Shpresa DELIJA has been a member of IATEFL, UK and TESOL International since 1994 and of the Steering Committee at the Professional Development Division at TESOL International for 6 years. She is also one of the founders of ESU (English Speaking Union) in Albania and serves as a jury of the Public Speaking Competition organized by ESU held annually. Working with professionals worldwide has made her embrace the best teaching methods and apply them in the Albanian classes.
She has been one of the people who compiled the ELP (European Language Portfolio) for 18+ age group students, which was accredited in 2009 in Strasbourg.
Prof. Dr. Shpresa DELIJA has written books for her students. She has around 34 papers on education and ELT as well. She is a Team Leader for the Cambridge Exams and a Speaking Examiner since 2000 being trained by Cambridge University.
Let us get to know more about our highly esteemed personality through her significant and inspiring interview with us:
1. When did you discover that you have a passion for teaching?
Since I was a little child, I loved to be a teacher. As far as I remember I used to play as a teacher with my dolls and with my friends in kindergarten, and when I was a little bit older, like six or seven I used to be a teacher to my friends in my class or in my neighborhood. I remember when I taught my dolls and my friends how to behave. I taught them that we need to greet people in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening, or how to greet our parents and grandparents when we go to bed. All these habits were taught by my favorite and beautiful grandparents and later they were instilled by my parents. My mother was a teacher in the nursery home in the city and she always kept teaching us three children to respect and love one another.
2. In your 46 years of teaching experience, what are the most challenging tasks you encountered?
Like everyone in his/her profession I have had good and bad days in the long journey of my 46 years of teaching. But before I applied for teaching, I had sworn to myself that I would follow my grandparents guides in life. Living in a communist country for so long the churches were shattered to the ground, so we had no place to go and to learn about God. If one was caught to use his words, he/she was going to undergo severe consequences like a great number of priests had in Albania, who were killed or hanged by the communist party of that time. Later, when I was at the university my aunt gave me a pocket book written by Mother Teresa, which enlightened my mind and heart how important it is to instill love, respect and empathy in children.
So, I read and even learned her quotes about kids, life, respect, love, empathy and work by heart. Some of them I use with my students today as well during my teaching.
Mother Teresa used to say:
Spread love everywhere you go; first of all, in your house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to next door neighbor. Let no one come to you without leaving better and happier.
Try to put in the hearts of your children a love for home. Make them long to be with their families. So much sin could be avoided if our people really loved their home.
One of the challenges I encountered at the very beginning of my teaching career was classroom management. The classes were big and I was not prepared how to handle different types of learners and characters. So, my education at home and Mother Teresa’s quotes on life lessons, self-training by
reading materials written by Heinrich Pestalozzi, Montessori School, Dewye. Durkheim etc., taught me how to develop social and emotional skills, and how to integrate theory into practice.
3. Do you believe that teachers affect eternity and why?
Wow, what a thought-provoking question! I have never thought of this question before. Thank you!
Through my 46 years of teaching experience, I would say that teachers affect the kids’ life for good or for bad.
Rita Pierson a very well-known educator, teacher and counselor in the USA has said:
Every child needs a champion. And at the first day of school she her students the following sentence to repeat: I am somebody. I was somebody when I came. I’ll be a better somebody when I leave.
The teachers influence to the kids and to the students is tremendous, and it will affect their future life and work.
In one of his works about teaching Socrates has emphasized: Great teachers don't just know the content of the subject(s) they teach but also know how to make learning meaningful and relevant. Great teachers engage, make the uninterested curious, change the minds of those who think they know but don’t, and take the time to enable understanding.
4. What kind of fulfillment do you get in teaching?
Oh, my God! This is another intriguing question.
Frankly speaking, I have never thought to be on the spot for the work I have been doing for so long. I think that after 46 years of my teaching career, I would say that I am a gifted teacher by God, because what I do I do it because I feel it and teaching is my love. I consider my students as if they are my children, and the relations I have built with them are based on Trust, Respect, Sincerity, Love, Hope and their Mental and Spiritual Wellness. They all know that they find a comfort place to count on me. We are good friends, we share our problems together, we play and celebrate together. So, we are very close to one another. I am there with them physically, emotionally, heartfully, scientifically and humanly. In 2022 with the help of my family I just wanted to leave something as a legacy. And I thought the best thing for my students was to have a room where they can sit, read, write, explore and do their school assignments. So, I did it after I collected their ideas in order for them to feel good and comfortable. That is a place of learning, discussing and working together while doing their pre-service training.
5. Having contributed to the Albanian reforms in Education in Albania, how has this changed your life in one way or another?
I have been engaged in all the reforms concerning Education in Albania from K-12 to the university level.
I was lucky in a way to be called by the Ministry of Education to be part of all the reforms.
Being a member of IATEFL UK, serving as a member of the Standing Committee for six years at the TESOL International of the USA, being the President of ELTA Albania (English Language Teachers Association in Albania) for more than eight years, and being a member of the Steering Committee of ESU Albania (English Speaking Union) have changed my mindset of teaching and developing a curriculum which should be close to the needs of learners in all levels of Education in Albania. I started training teachers in the contemporary teaching methods to make teaching and learning inclusive, equal and loved by all. It is more than a hundred conferences and trainings I have done in and out of the country to enhance teaching and learning.
6. What was your greatest dream when you were still young?
My dream was and still is young to teach and to be with my students and teachers as well. Teaching is a profession that keeps me energized, young, and fresh in my mind. I feel it in my veins and in my heart.
My students have changed my life as well. Wherever I go and wherever I train my students come as an image to me and their voice echo to my ears to tell me what to do most of the time. I never ever felt tired or angry with what I do. I still teach with the same passion and pathos as the first day of my teaching.
7. Do you believe that in our modern world, there are still changes that need to be made in the
Of course! We always need to bring changes to our schools, to the teaching methods, to the books the students use in class or outside the class, we need to change our attitude towards them and towards their parents. School should be converted into a community place where teachers, learners, parents and school administrators can find a safe and a comfortable place to study, to do research, to celebrate and to pass a joyful time together.
8. How do you handle difficult students in class?
This is a very interesting and a very important question for a novice teacher. At the very beginning of my teaching career I have had only two difficult students in my class. First, I tried to meet them personally and to tell them to be in my place and to see how they should feel. Then, I gave them some responsibilities to hold order in class and to keep record if someone is breaking the class rules. Then, I used to promote their good work in class and to talk good with their parents for them to trust their kids that they were not so difficult boys. The better you treat this category of students the better is the result. I have always considered all of them Flowers as Mother Teresa calls kids. If you treat them with care and love they grow well. The same is for kids. They need love and respect.
9. Being awarded the Global Wellness Ambassador Certificate as an outstanding speaker and one of the Ambassadors of ESWP, how does this affect your perspective in life?
Frankly speaking, I have met very beautiful and amazing people from all the corners of the world. And everyone of them is unique. So, Krisztina Konya, Enolia Foti and Dr Anita Powell are those who have inspired me the most. Krisztina Konya and her very good friend Enolia Foti are the founders of the Global Wellness who promote wellness and a rich spiritual life globally. Dr. Anita Powell, who is the founder and the brain of ESWP, has had a great impact on me since the very beginning when I heard her reciting with pathos and energy one of her poems “Princess to Queen”. She talks with pathos, energy and love to bring peace to the world. I would also want to mention some other amazing people who have really affected my life and my work a lot. They are Dr. Archana Bhattacharjee, Richa Mehta Ranjan, Inga Kharchilava, Nada Ratckovi¢, Dr. Snigdha Kadam, Peeyush Pandit Sir, Dr. Vijau Kumar Salvia, Shada Fransis and a lot of others who really have inspired me in my everyday private, social and academic life.
All these heroes do not really know what miracles they are bringing to the uplifting of women in their businesses, work or at every one’s home.
10. Do you also get to incorporate your being an ESWP Ambassador in your teaching profession?
For sure. Whatever I do and in whatever group of people I am involved in I share my experience with my students. It is good to share and to contribute for your country. We are people who belong to the same world and we should teach our kids to love and live in a multicultural world to give and to take from one another to promote peace, respect and love.
11. How has being part of ESWP changed your life?
Dr. Anita C. Powell is the global chief of TAP2N – A Help to Heal Foundation to promote peace and change the world. She is also the founder of ESWP to promote peace, love through the spoken word.
People who have joined it read and write their poems and proses to promote love and peace, the two most ingredients that the world needs most. I have started to write my poems which are not so
professional, but they reflect and express my inner world. And as ambassadors of ESWP we have compiled our poems and proses in the first edition of the Anthology which we have named “Universal
Verses – Words to Inspire Peace and Hope”. Hope it will be released very soon and we are going to have our Anthology in our hands. I am going to use it with my students as well.