It’s being celebrated in Shkodra by the century old Gymnasium ‘28 Nentori’ where Prof. Dr. Mirash Ivanaj played a significant role as a Director and later on as Minister of Public Education!

This is the text of Drita Ivanaj’s participation in November 25, 2022.

Hello and Happy Anniversary to Shkodra’s Gymnasium ‘28 Nentori’ !

I am Drita Ivanaj, the last living heir of the Ivanaj Family that is still well remembered for the 2 brothers that dedicated their entire lives to this country by providing remarkable services to Albania’s life during the 1920’s and 30’s.

Both my father, Martin, as a lawyer, a judge, Head of the Cassation Court, Member of the State Council, and his younger brother, my uncle Mirash, as a teacher, Director of this Gymnasium, Minister of Public Education, and Head of the State Council, during their lifetimes made quite an impact with their professional contributions in their respective fields of law and teaching.

I, instead, have lived and worked for more than 7 decades in NYC, but after 2 full time careers spent there, I am now more permanently devoting the rest of my life here: in the country of my origin and ancestry, making sure that the organizations I created in the memory of my father and uncle can provide a continuation of their legacy. 

They are the Ivanaj Foundations of NY and Tirana that 5 years ago were able to open their headquarters in a modern building constructed on the original land owned by the Ivanaj brothers in Tirana e Re. And this is where I am now.

From the beginning of my life, I lived in this area only until I was 5 ½ years old, when my family life was totally destroyed by the early loss of my father that died in exile, followed by my uncle imprisonment and death when he returned to Albania at the end of WWII. Our original residence became first the general headquarters of the Italian Army during WWII, and subsequently was utilized for 5 decades by the Albanian dictatorship that followed it. 

Notwithstanding all this, I have remained ‘Albanian’ all my life, and so did my beloved mother – Giuseppina – of Italian and English origin – who acquired this citizenship after marrying my father and never changed it. I owe to her all I know, learned, and was able to preserve from both my Albanian and Italian sides, and all the sacrifices she endured in emigrating to the USA to give me a better future. Unfortunately, I also lost her when I was only in my 20’s.

Today, inside the ‘Salla Ivanaj’ at our Foundation here in Tirana, we have permanently displayed the large Albanian flag that belonged to the Ivanajs since the 1930’ because she saved it when we left the country in April 1939, and I brought it back when I was able to return to Albania in 1993. 

Since then, I have dedicated my time, expertise, personal belongings, and finances to create the Ivanaj Foundations that are now successfully operating all sorts of activities, events and projects for the benefit of Albanian younger generations.  Come and visit us in Tirana!  

Here we have now large collections of data regarding past documentations of the Ivanajs that are historical in nature, and I hope that some could be eventually published in the future. Here you can also participate or collaborate in some of our future endeavors since we have also active volunteers operating with us in a variety of fields!

However, ‘think’, first of all about that all this begins with education which starts at family level, can be developed through schooling in assorted degrees, and even spread horizontally across a variety of disciplines and occupations.

You, the students at Gymnasium 28 Nentori, are just beginning your life journey in education, and can grow exponentially in any direction you wish for yourself.  The early days when my uncle Mirash dedicated himself to develop this institution and an entirely new public educational system in Albania, as Minister, were difficult ones for a variety of reasons. Now you have, before you, 100 years of endeavors and accomplishments by your predecessors, with many of them excelling throughout their generations.

Now it’s up to you to do your part with the help and support of your instructors! And with this I want to wish you all: enjoyable studies, good quality learning, and efficient outcomes!

Another 100 successful years is my wish for all the Students and Educators at Gymnasium 28 Nentori! Good Luck!”                                                                                          

Drita Ivanaj – November 25, 2022