Saturday, October 23, 2010

new youtube

i dont know if you guys will find this interesting, but i thought i would share which countries my views are coming from--US (duh), Albania (mire), Canada, South Korea, Australia, Slovenia, Japan, Bulgaria, Denmark and Greece. international relations at a micro level. who knew my I.R. degree would actually be applied?! haha.

here is the new video--how'd it go?

Friday, October 22, 2010

not pc related

on a personal note, im a coffee addict (luckily albanians are too) and im always browsing through webmd--they have a lot of great nutrition and health articles. today i found a legitimate justification for my caffeine addiction

"Coffee: A growing number of studies suggest that coffee has several surprising health benefits. Along with potentially lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes, consumption of coffee may reduce the risk of age-related mental decline.

The latest evidence, from a Finish study of 1,409 volunteers published in theJournal of Alzheimers Disease in 2009, found that people who regularly drank coffee during their middle-aged years were significantly less likely to suffer dementia and Alzheimer’s later in life. Those who drank three to five cups daily had a 65% reduction in risk."
bottoms up!
To read the entire article click here

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Breast cancer walk

went exceedingly well! i will post a longer entry later, but for now i have pics, so enjoy! Lezhe Breast Cancer Walk

Also i have a new youtube video, it's atrociously long! so please dont feel obligated to watch the whole thing!
a good day

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

i have fans :)

i just got an awesome note from Fjolla in British Columbia! She said that i was an inspiration to her. Today you are mine! thank you so much for your support it keeps me motivated! i really appreciate it!

i hope you keep following along!

in other news the breast cancer walk is tomorrow! i still have so much to do, but i put up 30 or so posters today (i know so last minute, but sometimes you just have to go with the flow) and i'm going to make about a million pink ribbons tonight!

did i mention to you all that i wrote and received my first grant? it was a small GAD (gender and development) grant but it will be enough to fund the walks posters, refreshments, a banner, and ribbons! with any luck i can use the remainder of the money for a beach clean up!

ok that was random but you get the point! off to find safety pins!

Monday, October 18, 2010

work in progress

hey guys! I'm gearing up for my breast cancer walk on thursday! so much to do in three days! eek. any who i wrote this and have yet to post it, so enjoy! i'll update with pics and a story after thursday! miss you all!

Advice for volunteers—
I’ve become slightly obsessed with checking my stats for my blog; blogspot has a cool feature that indicates where your traffic comes from (i.e. facebook, a link posted etc) and ive noticed that a few of my onlookers are coming from pc blogs. Meaning that some visitors are most likely waiting in anticipation for their official invitation (the pc acceptance process is very competitive and can take years).

Anyhow I know I looked on a few blogs before I left and it really helped ease some of my fears.  I remember wondering what the hell is Albania like?! I mean besides its general location and the information the “cheers” song had to offer (click here) I was lost.

So without further ado here are my survival tips-
-DON’T STOP DOING WHAT YOU LOVE TO DO! For me dance, outdoor activities and photography are some of my passions and the weeks I don’t partake in these activities I can feel my spirit deflating.
-Find projects that you’re genuinely interested in. when you first go to site you might say ‘yes’ to every project that approaches you, but after you settle in a bit, its ok (and necessary) to be picky.
-Keep up with people at home. Both of my parents call me every Sunday and I call my bro every Thursday (well power outages and internet availability contingent). Not to mention I keep regular emails with close friends and obviously facebook that little network site (it’s a shame more people don’t use it) is helpful…Anyhow remembering what a great support network you have at home is really rejuvenating. –Nest. When you finally get a place of your own (post host family life) make it yours! Put up pictures, dress that naked fridge, kill those fleas (sorry libby I had to), and make it homey. You will (with a little luck and mental strength) be there for 2 years so why not have fun with it?! *For me this is my first apartment that I have lived in, completely by my lonesome, so at night I tend to keep myself busy to fight the blues/freak-ness monsters.
-find people in the community to be your family. Laura and I had the pleasure of being introduced to a local pharmacists (by Bethany and Leslie the PCV’s that recently finished their service) and he has been so generous to us. He is like our Albanian father!
-Sitemate love! If you are lucky enough to have a sitemate, make sure to be supportive of one another! Some days are good, some suck –be there for one another and both of your experiences will be better!
-Have no shqip/work zones! Being a pcv is said to be a 24-hour job, and it REALLY is! Your reputation in a community is very important so what you do, how you act, whom you have over, or coffees with is taken into consideration and talked about. When im traveling to a different site I often get asked why im here and what America is like, this type of exchange is one of the three peace corps goals…so it can feel like your always ‘on stage’ so to speak. Take a hour/weekend/week/room for an absence of this stress. It can be exhausting!
-vent. That sounds stupid but when you have had a crappy week take time to talk about it with people at home or a good friend in-country.
- know you are not alone. Its easy to feel isolated and alone, but go back and read inspiring emails, books, quotes and know that other pcv’s are going through the same stressors all over the world. You are not alone!
-on packing (Albania specific)—sleeping bag (I didn’t bring one uugh but peter left me a super cozy one)! Nice work clothes, durable shoes, dresses for the summer (girl specific), layers—there is no central heating, warm lounge clothing, jump ropes/resistance bands/exercise equipment that’s easy to pack, external hard drive, camera, ipod, sunglasses, umbrella, back pack for weekend trips, swiss army knife, one pair of work shoes or heels, a nice dress you can wear to weddings (you will definitely be going to at least one, the wedding culture here is out of control), note cards (for studying), spices, if you have a mac a projector cord, flash lights, alarm clock, hand sanitizer, warm socks, running shoes, house shoes (although you can get those here for 200 leke ~2 dollars), scarves, contact information for people at home, a planner, markers, and well you get the point! Don’t freak out too much about packing, people can always send things and you can buy second hand stuff here for super cheap!

Ok well that’s all I have to offer for now!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


thats how i feel after two meetings in shqip about the breast cancer walk...ok i feel better.
as promised here are some pics from the hike borrowed from seth and raino, enjoy

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

my awesome friend thira

sent me a link to a cool blog entitled 'i'm just a girl wishing for the world' and i saw this. i think its a perfect quote for today. hope it inspires you too.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

who needs a path,

when you can make your own.
I had an absolutely amazing weekend. Four other volunteers and i hiked from Gjirokaster to Permet. It took two days to get over two mountains-- without trails hiking can be quite the adventure! The first ascent we took by force in about four hours. At the peak we took some fun pictures and explored a bit. We figured we had some time to kill due to our speedy pace. Unfortunately the way down was not so easy..
In the absence of a trail, we started our descent on sliding rocks. We quickly realized that at this pace we would get down into the valley sometime in december. Thus we crossed the mountain to find a supposed 'trail' that seth's handy dandy gps gadget detected on the other side of the bowl...well that little, dinky piece of technology proved to be the bane of my existence for the next six hours. We crossed over the mountain, meanwhile the rain started, and it became blatantly apparent that there was no trail to be found ANYWHERE. As the rain picked up the rocks became increasingly slippery and thus i spent a significant amount of time on my butt-- treating the big rocks like water slides.
As a group we decided that we should cross back over the mountain in hopes of finding a water/shepherds path. Unfortunately we could not get through the thick forest, so we ended up bush whacking through some seriously prickly bushes for the next two hours. The rain continued to fall, along with profanities. At one point i was literally limboing under brush with my pack, which caused me to collect a few thousand burrs.
After four or five hours the rocks slowly gave way to a small trail (im using that word very liberally) and sooner than i thought possible, we found a road. YAYYYY i thought, finally a road! Lets take it! But did we? No. Those of us who know seth (one of the five hikers), know he embodies the saying "take the path less traveled". Instead of following the road to the village we tromped through more brush, crossed a river (without a bridge), and ended up climbing up the side of a muddy, trash infested creek bed. Slowly, one by one, the five of us emerged from the mountainous abyss into an albanian families' backyard. I can only imagine how ridiculous we looked to that family (wet, covered in mud, burrs and pure exhaustion).
There is one aspect of albanian culture that i have yet to touch on, and that is their hospitality. Albanians are extremely hospitable. This family was no exception as they invited us in for coffee, raki (moonshine) and water. The kindness of that village (and villagers) was insurmountable.  We camped that night in the valley between the two mountains and met several awesome families that all bestowed immense kindness on us. We walked away receiving two coffees, jam, grapes, pomegranates, nuts, candies, and varying time estimates for our trek (albanians are very sketchy when it comes to proper time estimates for traveling).
The next morning, we walked away from the village, and i couldn't help but think, 'wow THIS is what peace corps is about'. In the last 24 hours we not only exchanged cultures but in addition we got to know people i would have never had the pleasure of getting to know otherwise. Not to mention I grew closer to my fellow pcv's and partook in an adventure i would have been hard-pressed to experience in America.
The second day was an easier incline, when we reached the peak of the second mountain i could only describe the view of Permet and the surrounding mountains as breathtaking. The descent was difficult but i was euphoric. We could see Permet! We we're so close. We ended the hike by bushwhacking (would you expect anything less?) our way to a dirt road that led us into the city.
When we FINALLY arrived in the city we were met by Adam and Catherine-- two amazing volunteers who gave us warm beds, showers, and a delicious homemade meal. It was mighty tasty and i couldn't help but feel the sense of family between us.
Being away from family and friends is extremely difficult but its comforting to know i have a family here too :)

* I didn't bring my camera but I will post links when pictures are posted!