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Preserving and Cultivating the Albanian Language

Ambassador Greiçevci\'s message for Teachers\' Day, 7 March, published in the newspaper The Albanian (25 February 2013).

Dear compatriots,

At various times in history, the Albanian people have been confronted with different challenges and events that have called for necessary action for the sake of the national cause.  Today, 100 years after the declaration of Albania\'s independence and with Kosovo having recently marked the fifth anniversary of its independence, the challenges and priorities are different.

The younger generation, in contrast to their parents who survived a time of existential danger and were preoccupied principally with their national and human survival, now have the good fortune to be able to lead a normal life with all the difficulties and happiness that this brings.  Today, in assisting the Albanian community, the noblest duty of Albanians living abroad is to send their children to schools with additional Albanian language classes.

For the generations born and brought up outside Kosovo and Albania, learning their mother tongue plays a key role in preserving their culture and tradition and cultivating their national identity.  Learning Albanian alongside the language of the host country (in this case English) is not only a basic right of our children,, but it enriches their lives and develops their character.  All recent studies show that bilingualism not only helps children\'s development but contributes to their integration in the society and the culture of the host country.  Thus, learning their mother tongue and preserving and cultivating the culture and identity of their country of origin does not exclude them from accepting and embracing the culture of the country where they live.  On the contrary, these two processes assist each other.  For this reason, I appeal to all parents of the Albanian community in the United Kingdom to keep alive the Albanian language in their homes, and, according to their opportunities and circumstances, do all they can to send their children to schools with additional Albanian-language classes.

Teachers\' Day awakes nostalgic memories of our own childhood.  For me, the role of teachers during the \'90s in Kosovo reminds me of their personal resistance and self-sacrifice for their supreme ideal.  Today still, their work deserves the greatest respect, because those who carry out this work in countries where our exiled communities have settled do so in most cases on a voluntary basis or for minimal payment.  Their dedication and determination to preserve our beautiful Albanian language perpetuates the dedication of their ancestors who I mentioned earlier.

In conclusion, dear parents, I wish to congratulate our enthusiastic teachers of the Albanian language on this sacred day.  Their desire, and I believe the desire of all parents living in the United Kingdom, is to see more students in schools with additional Albanian language classes.

P.S.  Look at the Portal \"Gjuha ime\" (\"My Language\") (www.gjuhaime.com), created and maintained by the Ministry for the Diaspora of the Republic of Kosovo.  This portal is designed for Albanian children and school students living abroad.  Once again, congratulations on 7 March, Teachers\' Day.

Lirim Greiçevci
Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo to the United Kingdom.