Wednesday, May 27, 2009

False Alarm! The Project is a GO!

Ok so after prematurely being disappointed about my project no longer being on the Peace Corps website I learned that it is actually because it is fully funded! I got to tell my counterpart today and other people I work with and it is definitely a good thing. There have been celebratory coffees today and now I am excited for all the work that lays ahead. Hopefully within 2 weeks the money will be in the new bank account I'm opening and then its time to buy stuff. In just under a month I will be on the road with 45 kids on the way to Gjinar! How exciting!

On another exciting note, the trainees swear in tomorrow and begin their 2 years of service. This is just plain crazy to me because that means I have been here over a year already! Only a year left and I will be trying to get rid of stuff, pack stuff up and be heading on to some new destination (which who knows where that will be...). This is just mind boggling for me.

On a sad note, my site mate Winifred is leaving tomorrow to travel around a bit and then off to Iceland for a few months on a project. It will be sad to not have her anymore in Lezha but she will always be here in spirit... Rruge te mbare Winifred!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Well so much for that Idea

For the past month or so I have been working with my counterpart, Yllka to create a summer camp for children who are from families who live below the poverty line. Up till about 2 weeks ago I thought it would happen. To fund it, we had written a Peace Corps Partnership grant. This basically means that people who I knew back home and reached out to, who felt like donating to this camp, would be the main financers of the project. Today as I went online to check to see how much money we were still waiting for, I was disappointed to find it no longer listed. As we had planned on having this camp at the end of this month I knew that the funding needed to come by early June. Today is Memorial Day so no one is in the office to ask if this means that the project is being stopped because we didn't get the funding we needed or what exactly are our options. If the project is being stopped I am in for one bad conversation with Yllka later. If there are some other options well then maybe there's still hope.

I'm sad that this is just one more project that most likely won't happen but at least I tried. I hope that this will be an eye opener for Yllka. She hasn't been very active in helping me look for funding. Hopefully this will be a learning expereince for her as well. Yes I am American but no I am not rich nor am I conneted to people who have access to hundreds of dollars.

The summer is about to start so with that I have hope for sunny days and more small successes. The new group is swearing in on Thursday. I'm no longer the new kid! Best of luck to them. Just remember that patience is key to being a successful PCV here in Albania. Oh and go for every coffee you can :) Time to go find Yllka and have a chat. I may need a hug later...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Needed That

Last week I got back from a vacation that I really needed. Everything was stressing me out a bit here so it felt good to get away. Now I'm back and I'm ready for more!

My vacation started by traveling up to Herceg Novi with an Albanian who I help out here in Lezha. His name is Ardi and he has a transportation company. He had a group of Albanians he was taking to Herceg Novi and he had an extra seat which he offered to me. It worked out great because it was the same day I was leaving for Dubrovnik, Croatia. He dropped me off at the bus station and then I had to wait a while for the bus to arrive but it was smooth sailing from there. I had barely stepped off the bus in Dubrovnik when I was pulled aside by a woman asking if I needed a room for the night. I talked her down from 20€ to 16€. The room was nice enough and there were two Americans traveling around staying there as well. We wandered around that night and again the next day. Dubrovnik is amazing! Expensive but gorgeous. My flight left at 8:30 pm so I headed off to the airport around 6 and waited for the plane to start boarding.

The flight was fine and when we landed in London I hurried through everything so I could finally meet David. I was so excited! He was great. I spent a full week in England with him and we traveled to Thetford, Bury St. Edmonds, Stonehedge, Windsor Castle, London and Lakenheath. All in all it was a great time and I got to see some great stuff. I was sad though because I only charged one of my camera batteries instead of both so I missed out on some great pictures while we were in London doing a double decker bus tour. I really enjoyed meeting David and finally getting to spend time with him. I was sad to leave that Monday but my journey wasn't over yet. I still had to get to Albania from Dubrovnik.

After landing again in Dubrovnik I waited around a bit to try to figure out whether I should stay in Dubrovnik or go straight for Montenegro. Well I found a minivan going to Budva which was perfect because I got an email from Ardi saying he would be there with a group of university students. After meeting up with Ardi, we had some beers and then I got some sleep. The next day the group and I went to Kotor which is by far one of the prettiest cities I have seen in the Balkans. I wish my camera had not been dead! We came back to Budva and relaxed the rest of the day. On Wednesday we left for Albania but made stops at Stephen Island, Tivar and at the Shkoder Castle. I was fed up with the university kids by the time we got to Lezha and I was so happy to be home! Overall it was a great trip and it really was what I needed. I feel refreshed and ready to go. Now only if the internet was working at the bashki......