Thursday, March 26, 2009

This Just Might Work...

Well after so many things falling apart around me, I think I finally have gotten something together that is going to work. 2 things actually!!! First things first....

On April 8th, I was hoping that we would have a concert in honor of the National Day for Roma Communities. When I found out that they were looking to me to fund this concert, the idea ended. No concert. Well I still have these packages from America and I need to get these supplies to the Roma kids. The new plan is to hold a small party for the Roma kids at the Roma community center on the 8th. We will play some games like bingo and the children will get the stuff that my high school sent to me as prizes. This way the kids still get to have some fun and they get some fun stuff from America. My counterpart, Yllka, is onboard with the plan as is the director for the Roma community center. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this actually will happen. There's only 2 weeks for it to fall through so I'm thinking I can keep it together for 2 weeks.

The next project is a lot bigger. Again my counterpart, Yllka and I want to have a one week summer camp for the Roma children. We will take them to a village outside of Elbasan and play games, do group activities and just let these kids experience what they otherwise would not experience. We have already written the project proposal and I have translated it. After talking today with the country director, looks like we will be able to submit the PC Partnership Grant to get funding. This means that I will have 2 months to get all the money. I'm depending on people from back home to spread the word around to go to the website (when it gets posted) and donate!! I need as much help as I can get so if you're reading this tell your peeps to help out too! This will be a great project if it doesn't end for some mysterious reason. Anyways, I'm really hopeful right now so keep your fingers crossed for me!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

1 Year Down, 15 months to go

I have been in Albania for one year as of today!! I can't believe how fast the time has been going. The new group of volunteers arrived yesterday. 34 new trainees. I can't wait to meet them. It's hard to believe that I am no longer the "new kid" and that next year at this time I will be close to leaving. The experience here has been everything I thought it would be but so much more. I have learned Albanian, have helped with numerous projects, have built relationships in my community and now feel as though Lezhe is my home. Just walking to work today I had to stop and have conversations with 4 people on the road. I have been so lucky with my placement and service. The continued support from my friends and family back home has also been tremendous and I am so happy that I have them behind me on this adventure. This would be much harder without their continuing support.
On another note, I just got back from Athens, Greece on Tuesday. The bus ride on the way down wasn't as bad as I thought the 14 hours would be. There was an American backpacking through Europe so he kept me company until we all started dozing off. My first day in Athens I walked around A LOT and saw most of the "typical" tourist sites. I stayed with a couchsurfer that night and he showed me around at night and we met up with another couchsurfer for drinks. The conference that I went to Athens for started on Friday and I met up with Dile, an Albanian from Lezha there. The conference was ok but a lot of things didn't apply to us since it was for the European Union and Albania is not a part of the EU (yet...). Anyways, Dile and I slept at a Greek girl's place for the last 3 nights. Sophie was a great host as well and I had fun talking with her. The conference ended on Sunday and there was time for more shopping, sight seeing and eating. I was so happy to eat my authentic greek salad and gyros!! Haha. Dile left early Monday morning but my return bus didn't leave until 8pm. I spent the day with Dile's cousin and his family. They were really nice and showed me around Pireaus (the port of Athens). The trip back to Albania was much longer but I made it back :)
Now I will be busy for awhile helping prepare materials for the new trainees, making materials for my municipality and helping with some smaller projects. Spring is going to fly by and it will be summer before I know it!!
Hugs to everyone!