International Jesuit Education Leadership Project
for Central and Eastern Europe
From July 10 through August 3, 2002, the International Jesuit Education Leadership Program for Central and Eastern Europe took place in Warsaw-Falenica (European Center for Communication and Culture). It is the fifth year of the Program aimed at preparation of laypeople for leadership positions in Jesuit schools. Teachers from Lithuania, Slovenia, Byelorussia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and Albania introduced themselves with presentations of their counties, schools, and other educational institutions run by Jesuits.
Fr. Vincent J. Duminuco, S.J., and Fr. Fernando De La Puente, S.J., introduced participants in the tradition of Jesuit schools and the “mentoring” experience of Spanish schools. Everybody was really eager to learn more in order to achieve a better understanding of Jesuit education.
The Eastern European team, led by Fr. Wojciech Żmudziński, S.J., offered all of the participants the practical experience of the methodology of the Ignatian pedagogical paradigm (IPP).
“I have got here the whole picture of the IPP, what does it mean to realize it”, Alina Gutauskienė from Lithuania said. “Now, I understand my mission as a Jesuit educator more clearly then ever before. The other thing I am taking with me is clinical supervision. I would like to establish teacher development groups, which, by using this instrument, would change teaching patterns, and would help us to evolve as teachers. Reflection as a characteristic part of the IPP was not present enough in my teaching. Knowing so many methods of reflection, I can really use it as a tool in my classes. Again, as a teacher, I was enriched so much by the variety of teaching methodologies, which I can easily implement for my students. I believe they will profit from the IJELP so much.”
“Now, I can say that I have whole picture of the IPP, which includes renewed vision of my teaching”, Gjyzepina Lulgjuraj from Albania added. “A lot of teaching methods will help me in my classroom, and make my teaching more interesting for students.”
Above all, for the first time we had a great opportunity to share experiences with Albanian and Hungarian teachers. Yet, immediately at the very beginning, we could notice the first fruits of the session. The Byelorussians, also participating in IJELP for the first time, announced that they would like to derive from the experience of Jesuit education. Moreover, the chairman of the Association of Byelorussian Language (Minsk), a former member of Byelorussian Parliament, declared his willingness to start cooperation with Polish and Lithuanian teachers from Jesuit schools.
Young Jesuits from Slovenia, also involved in the Program, have been dreaming of a Jesuit school in their country.
“Here, every lesson, every class and part of the program has its purpose, its mission”, said Fr. Tone Svetelj, S.J., from Slovenia. “I always know where I am, and what I am doing. I like this clarity, and this teaches me most about myself as a Jesuit and an educator. IJELP has opened me a lot of “windows” for the future, inspired me, and showed many new possibilities. After organizing my educational knowledge and having better tools for teaching, I know what I should be looking for in the next year: what kind of books, workshops, activities are important for my teaching. IJELP inspired me a lot, gave me very good beginning, so now I know that the rest is in my hands. Also, IJELP clarified my idea of Ignatian pedagogical paradigm, giving me greater awareness of what I am doing, and what the Jesuit heritage is”.
Again, due to the generosity of benefactors, many devoted teachers could share their precious experiences, cultures, and learn from each other in order to become more involved in the Jesuit apostolate of education.
“I have not wasted even a minute here”, a Polish scholastic, Fabian Blaszkiewicz, S.J., said. “The most important for me is knowledge about building mission statement, because we are about to open our first high school in Nowy Sącz, and the vision of the school is so important, especially now, before opening. Also, school climate development tools are important for me now, how to create curriculum to build school community working together. I have many good inspirations from IJELP about this subject. The last but not least are the teaching techniques: how to manage well time in the classroom in order to make it effective and interesting at the same time. All these made me improve so much during these days”.
Every session leaves great hope in the hearts of the participants. This hope will certainly bring some serious development in building our schools’ communities, as well as relations, between schools; and hopefully encourage others to cooperate and build up possibilities for the future expansion of the Jesuit Apostolate of Education in the countries of former Soviet Union-dominated areas.
A note prepared by the Pedro Arrupe Formation Center for Educational Leaders (Poland)
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