Oh yeah, that’s why I’m here…
28 August 2006
This past Friday I observed a class/activity led by a volunteer who has been living here for over a year now. The class took place in a small village outside of Vlora, the 3rd or 4th largest city in Albania, with a comparatively sizable tourist and shipping industries. The class was geared toward children or teenagers of the Roma community (similar to gypsy community). The Roma community is often discriminated against. The problems found throughout Albania are frequently in greater numbers within the Roma community.
The original plan for the class that day was to discuss goal setting and then have a connected activity. As is often the case, plans change. Since the kids that were there were too young to get much out of a goal setting discussion, we went cut that short and started the activity involving a small parachute and wiffle ball. Of course the kids loved it.
Working with the kids and seeing the volunteer interact with them was awesome.
The best part though was the greeting we received. As we drove up next to the field, the kids just started running to the field and to the vehicle, with bright smiles beaming the whole time. They chanted the name of the volunteer and were simply ecstatic to see him. Though his intended lesson may not have gone as planned, the volunteer and his host organization certainly made a huge impact by being there. That’s what I’m hoping for.
Work, work, work…24 August 2006
Yes! I have my first project. September 22nd is International Clean City Day, or something like that. During that week we are going to have little clean-up projects around the city, probably around the schools or parks. On the 22nd we will close one of the main roads in town to vehicular traffic. There will be a banner and people passing out pamphlets. Here’s where I come in. Not only will I probably be passing out the pamphlets, but I will the designer extraordinaire behind the masterful pamphlets. Ok, they’re not going to be that special but it’s a start. It’s good to work on a project.
Then there were 39…22 August 2006
Sad news :(
We officially have our first early termination. One of my fellow volunteers is heading back to the States. I am gonna miss her. We were becoming pretty good friends. The decision was a very difficult one. In addition to the normal considerations that one would deal with when making such a decision, the fact that this was the first volunteer to go home created more pressure. Nobody wants to be the first one to quit. It’s a shame. She didn’t have much control over the situation. If not for some extenuating circumstances, I know she would have finished out her whole two years.
I’ll be honest. There have been times when all I wanted to do was go home. For better or worse, my pride got in the way. Plus I knew that the situation or feeling would pass. I wonder when we will lose our next one. The winter isn’t exactly pleasant here. The whole lack of heat makes it pretty much impossible to ever be warm from like November to February. Yeah, I’m really looking forward to that.
Respect to our group though. We started with 40 and five months in, we lose our first volunteer. The rule of thumb is that you lose about 25% of the group by the end of the term. I was impressed that nobody bailed during the first initial shock from the three months of training. Maybe we’ll buck the trend. I am sure we will have some more. Medical problems and family troubles back home are likely to claim a few.
My respect to her and the difficult decision she made. I wish her strength in her readjustment back home and the transitional period she will be struggling through.
Two weeks…21 August 2006
I am trying not to get my hopes up but too late. The last couple of weeks some workmen have been drilling in the hall outside my office. By the way, this ain’t no simple little drill through drywall or even wood. I’m talking concrete block walls. Now that’s serious, ruckus making drilling. I never thought to ask what they were doing. I just knew they were loud.
Last week when they were working in my office, my supervisor informed me that they were putting in ADSL lines, which I assume are just DSL with an “a” in front. Do you realize what that means? Unlimited, non-dial-up internet access. Woohoo. That would be awesome. Not only would it save me some leke by not going to the internet café but it would also be very useful for researching topics, grants, and project ideas.
Now we still have to work out the contract with the provider but there are at least lines ready and waiting. I’ve noticed that when something big is coming, the timeframe often given is two weeks. For example, when we were in Peqin, I was told that internet was coming to the town in two weeks. Sadly those two weeks never passed while we finished the remaining two months of our training. I have heard however that an internet center, open to the public, has opened recently. Two weeks, two months, two years, whatev :)
Shume vap (very hot)…21 August 2006
LIFE-DRAINING. I figured that wasn’t really an exclamation deserving word. I mean come on, it has a hyphen.
Words that describe life in Albania when the temperature sufficiently surpasses the 100 degree mark for countless days in a row. Today is supposed to be the hottest yet, around 109. The heat was already present at 6:00 am when I was out for my morning run. I think I am going to go hang out in the one café with A/C. Hopefully we will have electricity today so that I can truly appreciate the wonder that is climate control.
Accommodations provided by…
20 August 2006
This past weekend I set a new record for the number of people staying at my house. I had four guys plus myself. At one point two female volunteers were going to crash at my place too but Katie was able to put them up for the night. I’m sure they had quite the little girly slumber party, including the obligatory late night chats and pillow fights. The bad part for them is that I do not yet have access to the spare bedrooms so all I could offer them was floor space. One lucky person did get the 3 inch thick pad that goes over my bed thing. My hospitality supplies are also limited to 2 flat sheets and three pillows. I do however have a decent supply of towels. What can I say, I’m such a gracious host.
In addition to the 6 guests mentioned above, we had Criss and Carol in town. We were having a little Peqin (training city) reunion for August birthdays. Sadly, Kate and David were unable to attend, which really sucked because David and Juliet were the birthday guests of honor. Without them I still ended up having 11 people hang out at my place Saturday evening. It was good times.
The only problem was the incredible amount of body heat generated by 11 people. OMG it was so hot in my house. The body heat in combination with the 100 degree weather and the electricity being out, which meant no fan, made for a rather uncomfortable spell. Have no worries, we were tough and fought through the heat.