February 18, 2014 by theloneblonde
With four out of the five conference’s that I will have completed in the first 2 months of January, I am officially conference’d out. Maybe I should not officially say that, however, it has been a long and exhausting month of conferences and trainings both for Peace Corps, and Albanian Youth.
This year my service has taken a little bit of a different spin, and I think it will continue to do so. Originally, I was focused on urban planning and development however due to many reasons both personal and professional my service has turned towards a Youth Development Focus. You may question why and as the youth of Albania are some of the most amazing individuals, who are capable of anything if they put their minds to it.
I started off the year presenting at Peace Corps In-Service training, which was so far a highlight of my service. I worked both with the gender equality committee and the community and organizational development volunteers to create a session to educate the Peace Corps Committee in Albania on gender based planning. This is somewhat of a passion of mine, and I also received some of the best feedback. Some volunteers even called it the best session of the entire conference. Not to mention the Peace Corps staff even requested me to present this to both training staff and to new volunteers, so I felt honored that they thought it was worth their time.
A little Preview:
As mentioned before I was elected to the Outdoor Ambassadors Training Coordinator post. My main role as training coordinator is to run the Youth Leadership Conference held in the spring every year. This year it was a little early and the kids had a blast. We taught project management and every student came out of the event with a project to take back to their community. We represented 15 communities across Albania and it was one of the biggest years to date. Next year I will be totally in charge of this conference, well with another volunteer shadow, and hopefully there will be some fun changes in store for the students who have participated more then once, as I want to pass a considerable amount of leadership over to them for next year.
Though I was running the YLC, probably one of the most rewarding experiences so far of being a Peace Corps Volunteer here in Albania was model united nations. I have discussed it before; it was one of the biggest projects I have worked on. I have been working since September to bring my model united nations team, who were selected to represent Mexico, up to speed. Teaching them pretty much everything under the sun in terms of what it means to be a diplomat.
I worked with 9 students who will all do amazing things with their lives, no doubts about it. We traveled to the capitol to begin our ceremony in Parliament, greeted by the American Ambassadors Arvizu, the Peace Corps Country Director, the Albanian Mission to the United Nations, the director of education in Albania, and the Speaker of the Parliament Illir Meta (who happens to be from Corovode). Because of Illir Meta’s presence, him being from Corovode we suddenly became the poster team for Model United Nations, even showing up on the front of the newspaper run by the political faction LSI (the party of Meta).
Last weekend all my hard work paid off as we went to the final conference and even came home with the best delegation award for the economic and social committee. My team had our ups and downs throughout the season, and I am incredibly proud of them.
Today we went to go present our award to the director, who was honored to receive it and was even more honored to put the plaque up in his office right next to the one Çorovodë won the first year of model united nations in Albania in 2007. But then the director did something unexpected, he turned and thanked me for all my hard work and dedication to the project because without the work of the Peace Corps in our community we would still be isolated and lack programming for youth. It is with your hard work and dedication that programs like this exist in our community. His words of appreciation made up for every bad moment I had throughout the entire process, and even though I swore up and down I would not do this again next year… well I guess I will figure it out in five months time.
Team Corovode With the Sponsoring Dignitaries, Including (left to right), the Chair of the Albanian-American Development Foundation, the Director of Education, Illir Meta, Ambassador Arvizu, and the Chair of the United Nations in Albania.
Only one more conference to go! GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) conference is right around the corner!