One Year in Country

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April 24, 2014 by theloneblonde

Well it’s been some time, I know I have been busy I also am not the best at blogging. I got caught up trying to catch up with my hectic schedule of being a very busy volunteer.

 

Reflection after One Year of Service

So it’s been one year, one year since I left my ‘home,’ to find a new home, one year since seeing my family and leaving my friends. However, I have a new home and a happy life. My office members try to ask me all the time well don’t you miss home, don’t you miss your life!? No, not at all, because there is no life for me there (wow, that sounds depressing). Some volunteers take this as a pause or a break from the real world and others view it as a continuation. I fall into the later category. Albania is where my life is, my friends are here, I have a home, I have a great life. It’s hard for those who have not left home especially in my small town to imagine that there is nothing left for you where your parents reside, having to work to make a new home and to move takes effort and time that not everyone has the patience for. Yet it is something that I have done time and time again. It’s a thrill and a whirlwind. This week I am saying good bye to a lot of volunteers who have become my friends and my colleagues, it’s sad to see them go. However many are ready for a new adventure to make a new homes where ever they chose to go. Maybe I will be there in a year, maybe I won’t who knows what my adventure will behold.

 

What have I been up to?

Enough random insights into my service, but the real questions are where in the world have you been! Well a little bit of everywhere and anywhere in between. Right after my one year of service mark, another volunteer and I made our way to Moldova for a long week of training. Makena and I were selected to represent Albania and South Eastern Europe as Teachers for the American Councils. This summer Makena and I will train the students who will go to the United States for 1 year under the State Department Sponsored Youth Exchanges. It’s a great opportunity and I am so excited to be working with these amazing students. I will be working in both Serbia and Macedonia. It’s somewhat crazy to think that my life has come full circle to being an exchange student to being a trainer of exchange students! Next thing you know I am going to be a host parent, however I think I have plenty of time and lots of road to cover!

The trip to Moldova was a great adventure and I got to meet a bunch of amazing people from all over! Even met some Peace Corps Volunteers from all around and it was amazing to hear what they are working on and that we are all in this together!

4-up on 3-22-14 at 5.30 PM #5 (compiled)Makena and I Enjoying Starbucks on our Long Layover in Istanbul

DSC05868Our Pre-Departure Orientation (PDO) Training Group!

I also did some presentation for the new trainees! Crazy to think that I was in there seat just 1 year ago! I was able to present with the Gender committee delivering a season on gender and development in Albania. Great conversations and looking forward to getting to know them once they are let out into the wild of Albania!

DSC05892 Discussing Gender in Albania

DSC05891 Singing about Being a Sex:Female Only one of the Best Gender Training Games out there!

I even got to host a new trainee and show her my neck of the woods! We went to a football match (where we were the only girls), went on a few hikes around town and ate great food! One night we went out to sample some of the local raki and I spent the night translating for her. Crazy thought that it was only a year ago I knew one word in Albania! Now a days I can spend all day translating. My speaking could use some improvement however my translation skills are getting much better!

After that milestone I went out to Vlore to work with some of the students who are taking part in an English Public Speaking Course with a partnership between a Peace Corps Volunteer and The American Corner.

VloreLearning Some Great Tactics in Public Speaking

Then just a few days later I was invited to yet another conference. Conferences are a common theme in my life. Be it running sessions or entertaining at a talent show it turns out that my many years working at summer camps are actually turning into a legitimate job skill that I love. I wish I could do it day after day however after a month I may say otherwise, though I still find myself running a lot of conferences and being involved in national events. I not only really love doing this but I really believe in the power of a meeting of the minds and it is one of the greatest experiences that I have being a PCV.

visionp Learning about Creating a Vision for the Future

visionVision Planning!

This most recent of conferences was one that was a little bit different. It was called Write On! Write On! is a world wide Peace Corps initiative that encourages creative writing in English. This is particularly important in Albania where creativity is often suppressed in schools. This really gave students a chance to think outside of the box, an create a space for no wrong answers.

writeone2Taking a ride on a Roller Coaster!

Writeone1 When all else fails you can always start singing!

This event will for sure be one of my most memorable because everyone of the students I had the chance to work with inspired me for one reason or another. To even be invited to the conference students had to place in the top essays in Albania. This year that was out of over 1200 essays. Two of my students placed in the top 10 in their school year and I could not be more excited. Every student was inspirational, especially the two students who attended from my town. One of them may kill me for telling her story, though she deserves it. She is one of the students who has such a drive to get to the top and such a competitive spirt that even when participating in Model UN on my Model UN team she found it pointless to learn others names, or even care about them because she would never see them again. Yet she came home saying that she had changed that her heart started beating and that she actually for the first time wanted to make friends and really cared about knowing the people she had met. This put a great smile on my face, its those little wins of giving students opportunities that can really make your service great.

Corovode The Girls from Corovode

 

Rounding out the days with a great hike with my Outdoor Ambassadors Group for Earth day! DSC06026 Talking about Nature… Or our upcoming Rafting Trip!

 

Well due to the fact that I have been out of town for several weeks, my house is a mess, my rent is well overdue, my laundry is piled high in a corner and my work is still not done. So here is to another year of ups and downs, and who knows maybe even another after that.

 

 

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