Saturday, March 28, 2009


Its finally happening. Finally. Finally. Finally. I finally feel like I’m actually starting to get things accomplished. Mind you, I didn’t say that I have actually accomplished anything…but I’m feeling that things are definitely on their way, which is more positive than I’ve felt about my work…well…ever.

I’ll save the details of my projects for when they’re actually on the road to completion, but suffice to say, things are looking up.

Otherwise, its been a busy few weeks for this volunteer. The week before last was teacher week and as such, classes were shortened every day so we could have an assembly of sorts all together. One day the kids performed songs, the next they recited poetry, and so on. The kids love performing, and like everything here; it was a competition, which they really enjoyed. March 7th was the official teachers’ day, which fell on a Saturday. So, Friday was a party day. (Because, really, what better way to honor your teachers than to terrorize them by being hyped up on candy and loud music?)

My ‘homeroom’ class is by default the 6th grade class because that is my counterpart’s homeroom class. I don’t usually have classes with them because of my relative incompetence when it comes to explaining things in Albanian and their incompetence when it comes to speaking English. (Ok, ok, they’re like 10, I guess they have an excuse.) Anyway, Friday was a horrible thunder-stormy day and my counterpart didn’t want to come to Ksamil, leaving me to helm the party alone. Thankfully, the glee of 10 year-olds around loud music and candy breaks down all language barriers. We had a wonderful time circle dancing and signing. They also showered me with presents per the teachers’ day tradition.

So, funny story: I caught one of the 6th class boys with a beer. How a 10 year old gets a hold of a beer, I don’t know. Why he would think it would be ok the bring it to school, I don’t know. But, even more alarming, why none of the other ADULTS cared, I seriously have no idea. I’ll give them credit, though. They pretended to care, for my benefit…as I was obviously distressed, but, no academy awards will be given out for their performances.

Moving on, after the 6th class party, I was forced to make an appearance at the high school party, held at the bar/café (all café’s in Albania also serve alcohol) next to the school. As a rule, I try to avoid all party situations with the high school kids because its hard enough for me to assert any kind of authority as it is. The last thing I need is to cavort with them on a social level. Anyway, I ended up at the bar, picture evidence is below:

Notice the smoking, the alcohol and the dancing. Its 10:30 in the morning. Let me repeat: 10:30 in the morning. In all fairness, I would not have been any more comfortable if it were 10:30 at night, but in some tiny way, I would have felt it more appropriate. I guess I’m just so American and puritan and, I don’t know, up-tight. But, there are just so many levels of inappropriate to be found in this situation…it boggles my mind.

I stayed at the high school party just long enough to say hi and have a coffee. Thankfully, I had to leave to catch the bus to Tirana.

After a looooong 8 hour bus ride to Tirana, I had a wonderful weekend at the Outdoor Ambassador training. It was great to get up to the city and see people. It also happened to be the Georgia volunteers’ ‘6 months in Albania’ anniversary. Everybody, with the exception of Aida and Joe, was in Tirana, so we decided to celebrate. We all dressed up, had a wonderful sushi dinner and went to the Sky Tower for a celebratory drink before meeting up with the other volunteers. Really, it was just a good opportunity for us to dress up. We clean up pretty well, no? Of course you can dress us up and bring us to the big city…but there’s still a little volunteer in us all…check out Allan’s shoes.

The sky tower is like the space needle of Tirana? I don’t know if that’s a good comparison, but it’s a bar at the top of a tall building that rotates. It was really pretty and a nice chance to reflect on how far we’ve come and how Albania has changed us. I’m not sure how much Albania we’ve changed…hopefully we can reflect on that in September.

I’m also a third done with my service. I’ve been in the PC for 9 months now. So much has happened that its hard to believe that just a year ago I hadn’t even gotten my invitation yet and was thinking about giving up on the whole PC thing. I have to say, that despite all the trials and tribulations, I’m really glad I didn’t. I signed up for an adventure…and well, I’ve had one.

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