Take Initiative and Speak
YES Albania alumna facilitates English discussion in Tirana

PAX/YES alumna introduces English program in Albania

[This article is a supplement to the Nov. 2021 issue of PAX Press.]

A student at the University of Medicine in Tirana (Albania), Aleksis Satka recently completed her follow-on grant activity from this year’s English Teaching Workshop. Having learned a number of practical strategies through the workshop, Aleksis was eager to put them to use straightaway.

The medical student first powwowed with Jarin Raisa, her mentor and a 2015/16 YES alumna from Bangladesh. Aleksis knew Jarin had served as lead trainer for an online event in Bangladesh called Take Initiative and Speak. The program focused on helping those with already decent English skills become much more comfortable speaking—particularly in front of a group.

Inspired by Take Initiative and Speak, Aleksis approached Jarin about the possibility of adapting the program for use in Albania—a proposal Jarin enthusiastically supported. Though buoyed by Jarin’s responsiveness, Aleksis knew she nonetheless had a great deal of work ahead of her. Fortunately, she was able to enlist the help of 2019/20 YES Albania alumna Sefeda Lazaj as a co-facilitator.

As for the venue, what better place than the American Corner? Located in the Albanian capital, American Corner offers English resources, cultural programs, educational advising, and information about the U.S.

With Sefeda’s help and the support of American Corner, Aleksis was able to pull off a successful event. The two YES Albania alums lead guided conversations with six participants on topics such as hobbies, globalization, and youth activism, helping them “break out of their shells” in the process. "It was a really comfortable space and I felt great," noted one participant.

As a result of the event’s success, Aleksis reports she’s working to make Take Initiative and Speak an ongoing project. She sees that youth from her country already have so much potential. She also sees their strong desire to communicate with foreigners and “connect with their surroundings.” She views her role as simply providing a little push—just helping them “take initiative” and “speak.”