All posts by laurehaas

New Year, New Resolutions

Happy new year! Since it’s officially 2018, now’s a great time to start thinking about my goals for the next twelve months!

I’ll be spending the entire year abroad, and while that seems like an eternity now, I’m sure I’ll be looking back on this post in December wondering where the time went. If I’m not proactive, I’ll miss out on the opportunity to do a lot of amazing things in this last half of my Peace Corps service!

So to keep myself accountable, I’m sharing my New Year’s resolutions here on my blog. Along the way, hopefully I’ll make meaningful progress on all of these goals and create memories that I’ll be able to smile and look back upon for many years to come!

So without further ado, here are my top ten resolutions for 2018: Continue reading New Year, New Resolutions

Advertisements

Christmas in Albania

For my first Christmas in Albania, I spent the holiday with making cookies and crafts with my students, sharing a festive meal with my host family, and dancing the night away with my colleagues at our office New Year party!

Happy holidays! Winter has arrived, and with it, Christmas and New Year’s spirit has overtaken Permet.

I spent Christmas here in Albania while I traveled Europe for New Year’s (which will be covered in future blog posts). While I missed my family and friends back in the United States, I still enjoyed spreading holiday cheer in my new home!

So without further ado, here’s my full account of Christmas in Permet!

Saturday, December 23, 2017, 11:24pm

permet christmas 9
Students posing with their Christmas cards

It’s been a lovely day! Cold, but lovely, nonetheless. I had my two English discussion groups in the morning, and while we didn’t speak much English, we did have a lot of fun doing Christmas-y activities, like baking cookies and making holiday cards!

I had my first group at 10:00am. The students arrived right on schedule to start baking, and it took us over an hour and a half to finish up the two batches of cookies. Continue reading Christmas in Albania

Permet’s Holiday Talent Show

To kick off the holidays, my site mate Barbara and I organized a talent show with the help of a local counterpart. We had over 14 different acts , and it was a fun way to bring the community together. The students had a great time showing off their skills and creativity!

Although there’s no snow on the ground, stockings hung on the fireplace, or presents underneath the tree, Permet is still a festive place to spend the holidays. There are bright lights in the city center, and children are bundled up in Santa hats and puffy coats as they hurry to get out of the cold. The spirit of the season is in full swing!

To cap off the year, Barbara and I decided to organize a Holiday Talent Show for students from the two 9-year schools, and one of the local basketball coaches (whose children were performing) was at every rehearsal helping us to translate for the children, organize the performances, and prepare the students.

The talent show was a fun way for the students to express themselves and to bring the community together before the holidays!

After our Drama Camp in the summer, we initially wanted to try and put on a Christmas pageant, but a full blown dramatic performance would have required a lot more rehearsals that the students just didn’t have time for.

So we settled on a happy medium. A talent show would allow students to show off their skills, and they could practice individually or in groups in their own time. We held the performance in the cinema, and we held open rehearsals every day for a week leading up to the event so students could get a feel for the stage.

In the end, the participants performed for an audience of 100 community members, and the show featured over 14 acts, including singing, dancing, poetry recitations, and instrumental performances. It was a fun way for the students to express themselves creatively and to bring the community together before the holidays!

Check out my full account of the event below:  Continue reading Permet’s Holiday Talent Show

The Regional Permet-Kelcyre Spelling Bee

In December, my site mate Barbara and Tim from Kelcyre organized a regional spelling bee! I helped out with photography and was able to capture some of the most exciting moments of the day, like the American ambassador’s arrival, the nail-biting competition, and the final winner from Permet!

I’m extremely lucky to be surrounded by a group of dedicated and creative volunteers here in southern Albania. My site mate and the two volunteers in Kelcyre have truly made my time here worthwhile, and I’m always up for the next activity or adventure they have in store.

The first regional Permet-Kelcyre Spelling Bee was a huge undertaking.

In December, Tim, an A19 volunteer from Kelcyre, and my site mate Barbara organized the first regional Permet-Kelcyre Spelling Bee. It was a huge undertaking, involving three village schools, and the 9-year schools in Kelcyre, Permet, and Libohove, and all together over 30 students took to the stage to test their knowledge of English and experience a new challenge.

The Spelling Bee was designed to promote usage of English language pronunciation and spelling, public speaking skills, and to provide a forum in which children can demonstrate their accomplishments and present them to a wider community. The event was modeled after spelling bees held by schools and other organizations in the United States.

The winning word? “Faucet.”

Continue reading The Regional Permet-Kelcyre Spelling Bee

Sunset Panoramas in Shkoder

My final stop on my Grand Albanian Tour of 2017 was Shkoder! It was the farthest north I’ve ever been in Albania, and I was charmed by the historic castle, the beautiful pedonale, and lively night scene!

Monday, November 27, 2017, 11:09pm

I’m in Shkoder! This is the farthest north I’ve ever been, and I’m really excited to explore tomorrow. But after a week of traveling, it was nice to have a quieter day to settle in and catch up with friends.

Shkoder is one of the most ancient cities in the Balkans and the fourth largest city in Albania.1 It has a strong influence on culture, religion, arts and entertainment in the region, and in that way I felt like it was similar to Korca in the south. With gorgeous natural scenery, historic architecture and monuments, and a bustling entertainment scene, Shkoder has lots of options for adventurous tourists!

There were beautiful buildings with Italian designs, and I was struck by the number of people out biking on the street.

I took off from the hostel around 8:30am and made it to Shkoder around 11:20am. I met up with my friend Jermaine near the city center, and we walked partway through the pedonale on our way to his house. We passed beautiful buildings with Italian designs and colorful, intricate facades, and I was struck by the number of people out biking on the street.

We stayed in most of the night cooking. I was a little nervous about making dumplings from scratch all by myself, but I had no problems at all rolling out the dough and making the filling. Another volunteer, Erik, arrived after we’d finished all of the prep, I fried up the dumplings, and we dug in with gusto. I was really pleased with how they’d turned out, and it was so fun to just chat and cook with friends! Continue reading Sunset Panoramas in Shkoder