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GISCorps volunteer taught GIS to K-12 students in Albania

The Urban and Regional Planning department at the University of Florida (UF)  , in partnership with the Albanian-American foundation Martin and Mirash Ivanaj (whose mission is to promote science and education amongst the Albanian youth), developed a prototype course that uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to teach middle school children about environmental and sustainability subjects. Students from the middle school “Dëshmorët e Lirisë” in Tirana were taught this course on site during the last week of June 2012.

Educators from right: Hanna Willingham (UF), Jenny Rechel (GISCorps), and Juna Papajorgji (UF)

Dr. Jennifer Rechel, joined the UF team as a GISCorps volunteer in Tirana to teach the course. At the end of the course students created the first Green Map for Tirana. First by hand, and then in ArcGIS Explorer. They created two alternative maps: one map showing the present green resources, the other map showing the future green resources as envisioned by the students. The students also wrote a letter to the Mayor of Tirana asking that the municipality publish their work in its website as a means to raise public awareness.

Examples of students work on ArcGIS Explorer

A closing ceremony was organized at the school where the UF team delivered course certificates. The ceremony was attended by parents and by several officials such as Albania’s Deputy Minister for the Environment, Forestry, and Waters, the Albanian-American Development Foundation Executive Director, etc.

Students’ notes of appreciation

See their Green Maps and letter to the Mayor published at the GreenMapping System , and at the My Community, Our Earth. For details on the course development from UF go to

Throughout the assignment Jenny superiorly exhibited the very core values of the GISCorps. After traveling non-stop for 24 hours, without a rest and voluntarily, she spent an additional 6 hours on a Sunday, in the school lab, preparing for the workshop, and under very challenging conditions of 100+ degrees until she reached a physical exhaustion.
Juna Papajorgji

For more information contact: Juna Papajorgji, 352.335.7580, juna[at]

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