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TASIS Leadership Academy Explores Entrepreneurship & Service in the Balkans

By Daniel Ware
TASIS Leadership Academy Explores Entrepreneurship & Service in the Balkans

Seventeen students from TASIS The American School in England (TASIS England) recently participated in a 12-day trip to the Balkans as part of the TASIS Leadership Academy (TLA). These Grade 10 students have been attending weekly seminar sessions since January as part of their leadership development, culminating in this unique tour designed to further their leadership skills. Students were engaged in a variety of experiences and will return in the fall to complete a capstone leadership project at TASIS England in their Grade 11 year. The first half of the trip was focused on the recent conflict in the Balkans, with the aim of exploring political and diplomatic leadership, as well as conflict resolution. Upon arrival in Sarajevo, students learned about the complicated history of the region and the devastating conflict of 1991–95 that included the siege of Sarajevo. First-hand accounts of the experiences of the siege were offered, as well as perspectives on the challenges facing Bosnia in the 21st century as the population continues to struggle to maintain a fragile peace. Before leaving Bosnia, students participated in a leadership workshop where they used their learning to develop and present plans of action for future political development to a local Bosnian who lived through the conflict. Upon leaving Bosnia, the TLA students headed to Croatia, where they continued to explore the period of conflict by learning about the bombardment of Dubrovnik. To conclude the political leadership portion of the trip, each student wrote and delivered a speech in which they described the kind of leader they wish to be, and how they have been influenced by what they learned in Bosnia and Croatia. For the second half of the trip, the group traveled to Albania, a dynamic developing country unique in Europe. The focus of the Albanian portion of the trip was to explore service leadership and entrepreneurship. Students learned about the history and culture of Albania through museum visits, walking tours, and time spent speaking with locals. A day was spent in a small mountain village in central Albania, where students played with and learned from local children, experiencing the hospitality of an authentic local Albanian feast, with traditional foods grown and prepared in the village. The aim was to develop a deep sense of empathy for the Albanian people in order to provide a foundation for effective service leadership. Students then developed a plan for a service project that was pitched to a representative of World Vision, receiving valuable feedback. Finally, students engaged in truly unique activities to explore entrepreneurship. As one of the most rapidly developing and dynamic economies in Europe, Albania offers much potential for unbridled entrepreneurship but also faces many unique challenges. During a half day spent learning from local entrepreneurs in observational and interactive internships, the TLA group had the opportunity to gain valuable insights from an architectural and construction firm, an advertising agency, and a hotel and restaurant. The final day of the tour was spent relaxing and enjoying the quickly developing coastal town of Durres. After learning about the beach and tourism economy from the manager of one of the most successful hotel resorts, students set off to explore and find an area that they would like to develop as an entrepreneurial project. They then presented their pitches using their previously designed rubric as a guide. Tired but full of great stories and memories of unique experiences, the students and teachers of TASIS England’s Leadership Academy returned to London with an enthusiasm and readiness for the capstone projects they will develop in the fall. Daniel Ware is an Upper School History and Geography Teacher at TASIS England and serves as TASIS Leadership Academy Supervisor.

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10/02/2018 - Bronco
It is exciting that people take the time to visit these areas that seem so far away, yet are right on our door step.

As somebody has resided there, and whose family is from that region, it is simply disappointing that even educational trips appear to focus on superficial and palatable issues.

In all, this trip may have simply reinforced long-held beliefs and stereotypes. The itinerary speaks for itself.



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