Friday, May 27, 2011

special olympics

I can't do this event justice. I'm discouraged by the thought of attempting to capture the magical awesomeness of this event. Part of me wants to post a pic and call it a day, but that wouldn't be fair to you. So i'll give it a go...

This year I worked with team Lezha from the Qendra Trëndafilat (center in Lezha). I have worked with these contestants and staff members, intermittently over this past year. Vodafone sponsors this event and little events year round, thus I have met many of the vodafone employees as well. I loved walking into the event and recognizing so many of the people there. It makes Albania feel like home. 

Anyhow the contestants played basketball, soccer, and participated in running and bowling. We had a big dance with the contestants the second night, which in all honesty, was the most fun I have had in a year. 

A group of Ambassadors including the American Ambassador, Arvizu stopped by the event for an hour to meet the volunteers and contestants.

The volunteers were both American PCV's and Albanian "Animators". It was impressive watching the Albanian volunteers who were new to working with special needs children. By the end they all looked like pros. One volunteer from shkodra, became a super volunteer in 3 days. He led cheers, games and was a morale boost for all.

This year was much more enjoyable for me because my language has progressed significantly. It was less stressful because I was able to communicate/ understand what was expected of the volunteers. It was definitely a tighter group of people this year, we all bonded over the course of the event. It was sad to say goodbye to such an amazing group. 

I've also come to the conclusion that volunteering is addicting. 

Overall this was an amazing event, I hope to partake in Special Olympics in America when i return. 

here are a few photos!

Volunteer Photo

My team! (FYI albanians don't smile in pics)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A kiss worthy moment

Saturday morning i woke up and scooted myself over to the shower. After a long, loofa-filled, suds-induced shower coma, i returned to reality. I wrapped myself up in a yellow towel and walked into my green room. I noticed my laundry had dried. I decided to pick up a few items. As i was straightening the drying rack, i felt as though i was not alone. I looked up and to my surprise, i found my land lady watching me through the window. She stared, laughed, winked and blew me a kiss. I laughed and walked into my bedroom. 
O albania how i'll miss you :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Listening to Boa Sorte featuring Ben Harper

I have days where I really love Albania, and yesterday was one of them.

But before I get to that I want to share about my teaching experience in Selenice. Nathan a TFL volunteer, who lives in Selenice, had asked Kristen (another health volunteer in Fier) and me to come down and teach a few health lessons as a part of his ‘health week’ at school.

I have a newfound respect for Nathan and TFL volunteers in general. Teaching everyday at a public school, in another language is VERY DIFFICULT work. That being said Nathan made it look easy.

We taught two lessons about Smoking and performed an experiment to demonstrate how much smoke stays in your lungs after having smoked one cigarette. It’s a very effective and visual demonstration for those of you looking for an activity to round out a health lesson (see this link for the how-to)

We also taught a hand-washing lesson to the third graders. My favorite thing about that lesson was when we had the students washing their hands. One boy was really lathering up with soap, and the girl behind him asked if he would hurry up. He asked her to wait and she said, ok respect. I thought it was adorable.

Between the lessons we hung out with the kids a recess. It was like we were the Beatles or something. Girls we’re giving us kisses, hugs and freshly planted schoolyard flowers. A little girl gave me her bracelet; I’m wearing it even now. It was a little overwhelming but quite wonderful. Albanian youth are so amazing and spirited.

It was the first time I had taught a health lesson, in shqip, without an Albanian counterpart. To my surprise it went really well! I feel more confident-of course there is always room for improvement. The bottom line is that I am ready to fly solo, and there is no better feeling.   

Back to my really loving Albania… the people here are very hospitable and warm hearted. I recently had someone very close to me leave Albania.  I was visibly upset when I went to work, after having said goodbye. My counterparts took one look at me and decided coffee was necessary. They assured me that everything would be ok and gave me hugs.

After coffee I sat with a new acquaintance, a warm-hearted computer specialist. I stayed next to her like loyal golden retriever, not wanting to leave her side. She let me sit, and watch. She could sense that I needed company, and was obliged to be that for an hour.

I have received many sympathetic calls, texts and messages. I feel blessed, and terribly sad.

People (PCV’s included) have been incredibly supportive of me throughout this journey. I want to say thank you to all of my friends, at home, in country, and abroad. I am so blessed and grateful to have you in my life.

I’ll be seeing you.

Oh and I changed my font...again ;)

Also i should mention that mayoral election took place this past week. There is a dispute as to which candidate won the Tirana election. Reports have differed, some cite Edi Rama as the winner (by 10 votes), while other sources have reported Basha by 56 votes. Currently there is a protest taking place at the Central Election Committee, at Congress Palace.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

'pergezime per vdekjen e armikut tuaj'

this literally means, congrats for your enemies death. i don't mean to make light out of a serious news headline -referring to osama bin laden's death-but the literal translation of this saying is a little funny :) any how i'm going to steer clear of putting any further opinion of that matter on my blog. i wanted to mention it because it has been the talk of the town, or world rather.
moving onto a less charged subject, i am dealing with an invasion of ants. it sounds silly but these ants are feisty little beings. every time i think i have them beat, they come tromping back in full force. laura had mentioned that ants HATE cinnamon. which sounds ridiculous, who could hate cinnamon? ;) but wanting to avoid using harmful chemicals i thought i would give it a go-- and ants truly DO hate cinnamon! i put a few sprinkles in the pathway of a lonely ant and the dude PEACED OUT the opposite direction. i was impressed. those of you dealing with ants, buy cinnamon!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

clean-up in torovicë

Laura and I helped out with a trash clean-up in a neighboring village this past week. A friend of ours, Agim, applied for the OA funding available for earth day.  agim organized a clean-up with a local 9-year school. in torovice. with the funding he bought trash bags, gloves, t-shirts and allocated funds for transporting the trash (since torovice has no trash bins/ system/ collection in place). the kids were awesome and very enthusiastic about helping. the most entertaining part of the clean-up was when we hired a furgon driver (to properly dispose of the trash). we FILLED this furgon full of dripping trash bags.! the furgon driver was a very sweet man and took the destruction of his furgon in stride. we looked for a good place to dispose of the trash. after 20 minutes we found empty bins on the side of the national road. the furgon had only two doors and a window. thus we ended up shoving bags through the window to hasten the process of transporting trash from car to bin (dumping trash in bins is frowned upon. . . who knew?). it took 3 huge trash bins and four people to get all of the bags out of the car. it was an epic excursion, one i wont forget!