On 20 September 2018, Major General Steven Cray, Adjutant General of the Vermont National Guard visited the primary school Bratstvo Edinstvo in Ohrid. The event was attended by more than 40 students, teachers and parents, the Mayor of the Municipality of Ohrid, Jovan Stojanovski, as well as representatives of the Vermont National Guard, USA.
The students from the primary school in Ohrid where the teaching process is conducted in Macedonian, Albanian and Turkish language of instruction eagerly awaited to welcome Major General Cray. As a sign of welcome, the school choir performed the anthem of the school Сите сме едно – Të gjithë jemi një – Heppimiz biriz (We Are All One).
Immediately afterwards, the participants took part in a roundtable discussion about the joint activities implemented by the school with students from the three languages of instruction, as well as their impact on the wider community. Inspired by the positive results of such activities, young people informed Major General Steven Cray about their willingness to establish partnership with a school from Vermont, USA.
“It’s great to see the results of the cooperation among USAID, the US Department of Defense and the local authorities aimed towards activities for improving the learning conditions for students. In Vermont, we have many school like this in which students from different ethnic groups study, from Somalia, Vietnam, even Albania and B&H. I think it would be a great opportunity if some of those schools establish a concrete cooperation with this school in Ohrid“, said Cray.
During the roundtable discussion, the Mayor of the Municipality of Ohrid emphasized the efforts of the municipality to ensure long-term sustainability of the activities for strengthening the interethnic integration among the youth, as well as for improving the conditions for learning in the Ohrid schools.
The primary school Bratstvo Edinstvo was one of the six demonstration schools in the USAID Interethnic Integration in Education Project (IIEP), the implementation of which began in 2012. Although the Project ended in 2017, the school continued with even more intensive implementation of numerous joint activities with students from the three languages of instruction, including also integrated lessons as part of the regular teaching process.
Through the Project, in cooperation with the United States European Command, in 2015, the school was renovated by installing new windows, doors and floors. To date, the United States European Command helped to renovate 63 schools in the country that are part of the IIEP.