Why I teach politics? Elton skendaj

I grew up in communist Albania. Marx and Engels adorned all my school classrooms in elementary schools.

Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin

Then, when I was 14, communism fell. I found out that communist leaders had lied to us. I distrusted political dogmas, and I became fascinated with what freedom meant. For some of my friends, freedom meant traveling illegally to Italy to become migrants and refugees.

Many people fled Albania in 1991, and they called themselves refugees.

For me, freedom meant reading books and watching movies that were not banned anymore. I could travel abroad now, and discuss my ideas freely.

During my first year in college abroad, the state collapsed in Albania. Riots tore my home town apart. A gangster almost shot me when I went to visit my family during the summer.

A gang in my hometown, Vlora.

I was studying economics and computer science at the time. Since I wanted to know why people rebel and how can we promote peace, I started to take more political science classes. A year later, the war in Kosovo was too close to home, and I accompanied Kosovo refugees when they returned home.

Kosovo Albanian Refugees flee their homes.

I switched my major to political science and was involved in several peace organizations in the Balkans. Focusing on questions of peace and democracy, I ended up getting a Master degree in Peace Studies from Notre Dame, as well as a PhD in Government from Cornell University.

Ph.D. Graduation

I teach politics, because it matters. Peace, democracy, liberty, are not just empty words, but living ideas that all citizens should explore.

POL 203 Introduction to IR, Fall 2016, University of Miami

Through discussions, role-plays, applications, we explore politics from different angles. While learning can be challenging, we also have fun during this journey.

POL 202 Introduction to Comparative Politics, Fall 2016, University of Miami

Students create their own digital artifacts in my classes. Nonviolence students create infographics and timelines of nonviolent movements as part of their Eportfolios.

Nonviolent Citizen Activism students, Fall 2016, University of Miami

Credits:

Created with images by Julian Stallabrass - "806-21c"

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