Friday, June 26, 2009

40 kids + 8 Albanians + me = a successful summer camp??

Well in 2 days I will be getting on a bus headed for Gjinar in Elbasan with 40 Albanian kids and 8 Albanians. I'm excited that this camp is happening and after all the work we have put into it I hope that it goes well for both my sake, Yllka's sake and of course, the kids. Yesterday we had a meeting with the adults who are going with us. There is Yllka, myself, Ardian (who works with these kids), Marnelda (a school psychologist) and three volunteers coming from Lushnja. Marnelda has never done such a thing as a camp and freaked out slightly when we told her not to bring heels. Ardian seems very excited to be able to go and Yllka is just excited that her project is becoming a reality. Yllka has been very stressed preparing for this camp. We have had many parents who have had issues with us taking their kids for a week. The idea of a summer camp is still somewhat new here. They think that we are taking them and not going to bring them back. This is also complicated in families where there is only one child, the parents are divorced, or one parent is dead. We are taking one of the kids mom's because that is the only way she would let her son go but he really deserves this opportunity so I guess its not too bad. AT our meeting we talked about what the schedule will be like, what the goals are, what we will be eating, the layout of the camp and a few other misc. details. All in all I think we're ready. We just need to finish buying the food.

I have mixed feelings for this camp. On one side I am incredibly excited that its happening and as many people have pointed out, it is probably the largest thing I have done so far for the community. On the other side I'm slightly concerned that the kids are going to form a gang on the bus ride down and be uncontrolable the entire week. I told Yllka about my fears of going on this trip because no one will speak English which means I have to spend an entire week thinking and speaking in Albanian. I told her not to worry if I dissapear for a few minutes at any given time. I just need some time for my mind to rest and I will come back. I'm also slightly sad that I'm missing the 4th of July party but oh well. It comes every year and next year I should be back in the states for it. I'm trying to come up with a way that we can celebrate with the kids at the camp (good way to work on Goal 2 of Peace Corps). I'm thinking the best we may be able to do is have a picnic that day that includes watermelon. Maybe I'll try to get some fireworks or something but I doubt that will actually happen.

The only other thing to mention is that the elections here in Albania for parlament are on the 28th and the town is in a frenzy over them. Posters, flyers and commercials are all over the place. It is safe to say that elections here get just as crazy as in the US. I've been told to stay inside my house on Sunday night as many people may feel the need to shoot guns up in the air in celebration of their candidates winning. Hopefully this is just a rumor. We'll see.

Oh and one more thing, I really need to move out of my house and get someplace new. No chance of me moving before August 1st though. So far no winners. Hopefully when I get back from this camp I will find something.

Well that's really all for now I think. July is going to be a busy month for me as well. I plan on traveling around Albania, I have warden training for a few days in Tirana and also a new project starting with World Vision on volunteerism in youth. Should be a great summer. Keep your fingers crossed that my camp goes well and I return in order to tell you all about it!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Stuck in the Middle

Well this past week has been a little emotional for me. Let me explain as its not a bad thing its just sorta weird when I think about all that has happened. So to start, this past Wednesday I spent most of the day with Winifred. We had coffee with Bethany and Peter and some Albanians. Then we went to Winifred's house to help her do a final clean, get her stuff to her work, divide up the things she was leaving behind between the three of us, and throw away all the non-important stuff. It was a little crazy. I couldn't believe how much stuff she had! I hope that when I leave in a year I don't have quite so much stuff to deal with. Anyway, it was a little more difficult since she had to gather stuff together to ship to America and then some to send to Iceland where she will be working for a few months. Then she had to pack her bag that she will be traveling around Europe with. So her situation also added to the difficulty of helping her get ready to finish her service. I left her house about 2am Thursday morning. It was sad to say good-bye to her and know that when I came back from Elbasan she wouldn't be in Lezha.

Thursday morning I woke up really early to catch the 6 am bus to Tirana to get to Elbasan for the 10 am swearing in ceremony of the Group 12'ers. I didn't have much sleep but I got up and I got there in time for the start of the ceremony. Watching their ceremony reminded me of our swearing in ceremony a year ago and how excited and anxious I was. Now a year later, I feel at home in Lezha. I have many friends and I feel like I make an impact on the community. After the ceremony I talked to the new volunteers and their excitement was just like my own had been. Sitting there, drinking beer with them, talking about their excitement and fears was just mind boggling for me. I was no longer the new kid and I only have a year to go until I will be leaving Albania. I am in the middle of my service and I can't believe how fast the time is going.

Today, back at work I am super busy. My summer camp is actually going to happen and there is lots of paper work to do. I also am finishing a ton of brochures for USAID to print out for us. I was sitting in the office talking to several co-workers and they were like, "We are so happy that you are finally getting products produced." I decided to not bring up the fact that these things were not really new (except the summer camp). But the talk made me feel good. I have a year under my belt and I know that this next year is gonna fly by. The only problem is now, how am I going to be able to leave this place in a year??