October 15, 2014
When Trenia Walker was given the opportunity through the Fulbright Scholarship Program in 2013 to go to Kosovo, she had no idea that she would not only would she be able to continue work she started 10 years prior but that she would receive an additional grant to bring students back to learn about higher education in the United States.
As a direct result of Walker's Fulbright experience, this summer a group of 10 students from The Republic of Kosovo visited Texas Tech University to learn more about the American education system. All of the students are education majors studying at University of Pristina in Kosovo with whom she had worked during her Kosovo experience. During their time on campus they attended lectures and visited various public schools in Lubbock to learn American ways of learning and teaching.
Last year the Fulbright Scholar Program provided Walker, an associate professor in social studies education, a chance to visit Kosovo to conduct research and teach. The research focuses on the ways teachers and administrators use data to drive decision making and its effectiveness. She also continued a study she began 10 years ago in Kosovo on civics education curriculum.
“I was so excited to receive this fellowship exactly 10 years later,” Walker said. “It is even better that I was able to get the students from Kosovo here at Texas Tech, because I know it will be a great experience for them.”
Along with Walker, Colette Taylor, associate professor of higher education, assisted the students and coordinated events.
“It was a great pleasure working with these students,” Taylor said. “I've learned as much from them as they have from us.”
The international students were exposed to the American way of teaching in both the K-12 and higher education settings which varied drastically from their home country.
“We are learning how to teach students with different demographics and backgrounds,” said Albulena Abdullahi, senior education major from Kosovo. “Back home we teach every student the same, but now we are learning the importance of tailoring our methods to each student's needs.”
The learning activities arranged for them focused on diversity engagement and working with students with sensory impairments. These educational topics are critical issues in their country. Kosovo is newly independent and, as such, is still building its educational infrastructure and public institutions. The students who came here and participated in these training sessions will be better able to take leadership roles in education in their country.
Walker's Fulbright Scholarship experience evolved into something bigger than she ever expected. Because of the relationships she built during her time Kosovo, Texas Tech was successful in receiving a unique grant opportunity. “This opportunity was funded by a grant from the U.S. Embassy in Kosovo,” Walker said. “They told me that if this current project is successful, they would like to fund more students to come here to Texas Tech. We hope that we can maintain an ongoing relationship with the faculty of education at the University of Pristina.”
Following the civil war in the area formally a part of Serbia many changes regarding education have been made. Teachers are now required to have a master's degree in education in order to teach. This trip has given the students the idea that traveling to Texas Tech for their master's degree will be beneficial for their careers in teaching.
“We want to teach in our country,” Abdullahi said, “However we all would love to come to Texas Tech to further our experience in teaching here in America.”
The College of Education at Texas Tech University offers a full range of programs, including eight doctoral degrees, 12 master's degrees and two bachelor's degrees with numerous specializations leading to careers in public or private education as teachers, professors, administrators, counselors and diagnosticians.
Programs in the college are housed in two departments. The Department of Curriculum and Instruction offers undergraduate programs leading to initial teaching certificates and graduate programs in bilingual education, curriculum and instruction, elementary education, language literacy and secondary education.
The Department of Educational Psychology and Leadership offers graduate programs in counselor education, educational leadership, educational psychology, higher education, instructional technology and special education.