Friday, March 19, 2010

I Remember that Rainy Day I Came ketu.....

2 years ago today, 35 crazy kids and myself landed in Albania for the first time. We had had a long journey, we didn't know what to expect, I myself was super excited yet scared at the same time. Then after I had found BOTH my bags on the carousel, I knew that my time in Albania was going to be great. I was the first one through the security doors and onto the bus that would take me to Elbasan to get this whole crazy adventure going.

As I look back at how the past two years have gone, I can't believe how much I have been able to accomplish, how much I have learned and how much there still is to be done. Some of my favorite things so far in Albania have been:
-the summer camp in Gjinar
-the Lezha Women's Club
-working with the Roma community
-helping out at the Red Cross
-volunteering at the Special Olympics in Tirana
-going up to the Lezha castle
-going to the beach everyday in the summer
-being able to debate in Albanian
-drinking coffees daily about two to three times

It will be weird to not be in Albania. Speaking of not being in Albania, I now have my official COS date. It will be August 6th. I will then fly back to America for a little more than a month. Staging for Morocco will be September 15th. 6 months and I'll be a trainee again! We have a group of 51 trainees that just arrived here this past Thursday - welcome group 13!! I will be going through everything all over again, staging, PST, language learning (by which I mean charades), living with a host family (where I will use charades to communicate for the first month or so), learning a new culture (where I will probably offend someone using my charades), and dealing with the stress that comes with doing all that (so many charades! so little time!).

Spring has come to Albania and with that a new energy. The days are getting longer which means, more time for coffee, less time at home! I have lots to do in my final 5 months here. I have two summer camps for the Roma kids in June, and I will have a summer camp in July in Thethi (Hill is getting special permission from the Embassy for me to go to it). My high school English class is putting together their second edition of their newspaper and we will still get out a third one before summer comes. My counterpart is trying to learn as much English as possible from me before the new volunteer comes. I'm doing some Spring cleaning and getting rid of lots of clothes, shoes, books, and misc other items I have in my house that I do not need/want. I am so much more productive in warm weather than in cold!

That's about it for now. Again, welcome to Albania group 13!! Enjoy all the time you have with each other during training, learn as much as you can, take in the culture, and mos u merzit!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

March Madness!!!

This March has been crazy and it is going to be crazy until April comes!! I don't know what it is about March, but it seems like everyone has their birthday in March. I have already celebrated 4 this month, and there's another 10 or so to go!! Also in a few days the new group of volunteers is going to arrive in Albania and I've been preparing stuff for them to help out with their training. It also means my 2 YEAR ANNIVERSARY in Albania is coming up. My project with Yllka is going to be in full swing next week too. See what I mean... CRAZINESS!!!

So let me break it down for you a bit more.... Group 13 volunteers are arriving on the 17th or 18th..... I forget which exactly but they're coming!! It's the biggest group of volunteers to arrive in Albania. I am preparing the tourism sessions for the COD volunteers and helping to do site development in both Lezha and Shengjin. I have also been asked by the language teachers to do some dialect training for the volunteers who will be in or around the Lezha area. We have so many different dialects here it will be nice for them to at least here what kinds of things they will hear. It's definitely different from the standard Albanian that they learn during training.

My 2 year anniversary in Albania is on March 19th. I can't believe that I've been here so long. It doesn't feel like it at all. I will be staying in Albania until Mid-August. Then I will go home for a month leave before heading to Philadelphia to go to staging (again) before taking off for Peace Corps Part II: Morocco!!! I decided just last Friday that I will do the full 2 years again. Now I just have to do some medical stuff and it will be official. YAY!!

My project with Yllka is going to be in full swing next week. We will be doing the first delivery of food packages to families. It will be interesting to see how it all goes. I have my doubts about this project and its sustainability but Yllka and the Light Force director, George, is pretty confident. The summer camps will be fun this summer. I cannot wait to do the summer camps! I also just found out that I might have the opportunity to go to Thethi (a restricted area for volunteers) to do a summer camp that is sponsored by the UN. Our country director is looking to get special permission for me to do it. Hopefully he will let me know more details soon but we'll see.

Yesterday was Women's Day. Youth Parliament sponsored an event for the Roma women to celebrate their history and culture. It was fun to learn more about their traditions and customs. They all had a good time dancing! You put on music and all of them are on their feet dancing! So much fun! I was sad to see that their wasn't as good of a turn out as last years Women's Day event but still happy to see some support from the community.

So as you see, it really is March madness around Lezha right now. I hope that you all are well and if you're about to come to Albania, getting excited!! You are about to start the adventure of your lifetime. Until next time!!