Category Archives: Albania

Rafting in Corovode

On a beautiful May weekend, my friend Jenn hosted a rafting trip in her beautiful site! Corovode is a gorgeous town tucked away in the mountains, and we had a great time exploring the area!

Sunday, May 20, 2018, 5:15pm

Whew! What a weekend! From rafting to off-roading, these past two days have been non-stop action, and I couldn’t be happier to be sharing new experiences with some of my favorite Peace Corps volunteers!

A couple months ago, my friend Jenn invited the A20 volunteers to her site for a rafting trip. Skrapar’s Osumi Canyon is said to be the best rafting location in the entire country, and though the price was a little steep, I wanted to give the experience a try. 

Brianne and I convinced each other to take on the journey to Corovode, which sent us on a wild ride through Berat before we arrived in the Skrapar region, and I was so glad that we were able to rely on each other throughout the strange trip. And what a crazy, wonderful time it was! Continue reading Rafting in Corovode

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Saying Goodbye to A19

On May 4th, my site mate Barbara and pseudo site mate Tim finished their service as Peace Corps volunteers. Brianne and I were there to celebrate their accomplishments, and it was truly a bittersweet moment!

Friday, May 4, 2018, 10:23pm

It’s never easy to say goodbye, and this one truly hit me harder than most.

Today I watched sixteen volunteers finish their two years in the Peace Corps at the COS (Close of Service) ceremony for A19, which was held at the Peace Corps office in Tirana. Typically the COS ceremony is a private event for PC volunteers and staff, but to celebrate the 20th anniversary year of Peace Corps in Albania, friends, colleagues, and other RPCVs (returned Peace Corps volunteers) were invited to attend.

The COS event was a way for the staff to celebrate the A19 volunteers who were finishing their service.

The COS event was a way for the staff to celebrate the A19 volunteers who were finishing their service, show off the official opening of the newly renovated office space, and wrap up the 20th anniversary year.

In addition to the normal COS proceedings (a high-five line, remarks from each of the program directors, and the ringing of the COS bell), there were also guided tours of the office and a cocktail hour featuring Albanian byrek and American hot dogs (the staff picked foods that were representative of each of our two countries). I was invited to participate in the event as a tour guide. Continue reading Saying Goodbye to A19

DIY Workshops and Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day, Elliot and I held a series of DIY workshops where students learned how to make different crafts from recycled materials! On the actual holiday, Bashkia Permet held an outdoor expo where the students were able to display their hard work and explain what they learned to VIP guests!

Sunday, April 22, 2018, 3:42pm

Happy Earth Day!

It’s an absolutely gorgeous Sunday! The sky is bright blue, and the sunshine is lovely and warm. I woke up around 7:30am feeling well-rested, and I jumped straight into the busiest part of the day.

This morning, Bashkia Permet held an Earth Day Expo for visiting embassy staff and EU representatives. It was also a great way for the community to learn about the holiday, chat with local artisans and food producers, listen to live music, and enjoy a traditional dance performance.

Bashkia Permet held an Earth Day Expo for visiting embassy staff and EU representatives.

Over the past week, Elliot and I have been working with students in the 9-year schools to create art projects out of recycled materials. Each workshop was about one to two hours long, and they gave students the opportunity to get creative, hang out with their friends, and learn something new. And even better, they gave me an excuse to get rid of some of the recyclables I’ve been hoarding.

I also want to give a shout to Barbara, my site mate, who passed down all of her crafting supplies to me since she’s leaving Permet in May. I never would have been able to pull off the workshops without her amazing and extensive array of nearly every crafting material under the sun! Continue reading DIY Workshops and Earth Day

Hiking to the Maja e Mbrezhanit

On a beautiful spring weekend, I took a trip up into the mountains in Kelcyre! We passed through picturesque farms and hiked to the summit overlooking the Vjosa river valley, and once again the view was absolutely breathtaking!

Saturday, April 21, 2018, 9:45pm

This morning, I woke up bright and early with the sun. I was surprisingly well rested after a good night’s sleep, despite my 6:00am wake up call, and I had plenty of time to eat my regular breakfast before hitting the road with my friend Koli for our hike to the Maja e Mbrezhanit (the Mbrezhanit summit), which is located just outside of Kelcyre opposite the hike we took to the top of Trebeshina.

I was relieved knowing that however difficult the hike may be, it wouldn’t be more than a 6th-grader could handle.

When Koli drove up to my house, I was surprised to find not only his father but his niece in the car as well! I was a bit relieved knowing that however difficult the hike may be, it wouldn’t be more than a 6th-grader could handle. We drove into Kelcyre around 6:45am, picked up the various volunteers from their houses, and then were officially on our way!

Our first obstacle of the day was crossing an ominous hanging bridge (or as my site mate Barb would call it, an “Indiana Jones” bridge) that was swinging precariously over the rushing Vjosa River. It was worn down and there were literal sandbags piled up on one side to help balance out the uneven wooden slats, but I wasn’t afraid as I walked gently across from one side to the other. Continue reading Hiking to the Maja e Mbrezhanit

Turning 24 in the Peace Corps

Another year in the Peace Corps, another April 9th birthday! This spring, I turned 24 in the Peace Corps (which rhymes), and I celebrated with two big lunches, one with the Permet-Kelcyre volunteers and another with my Albanian friends!

Happy birthday to me! 

On April 9th, I celebrated my 24th birthday, and between the Orthodox Easter holidays and the long weekend, I had three days in a row of delicious and enormous lunches. (I don’t think I’ll need to eat meat again for another month at least.)

Between the Orthodox Easter holidays and my long birthday weekend, I had three days in a row of delicious and enormous lunches!

Because some volunteers were going to be out of town on my actual birthday, I celebrated with my American friends on Saturday, which is actually a cultural no-no in Albania. People here believe that it’s bad luck to wish someone a happy birthday before their actual birthday. Still, I decided I’d take my chances.

The Monday after Easter is a national holiday, which meant that I actually had a day off for my birthday this year! My Albanian friends and I gathered for a barbecue, and the weather was absolutely beautiful! I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day!

With another year year under my belt, I have lots of reflections about my twelve months in service as well as hopes and dreams for my remaining time in Albania. So read on for the full recap of my birthday celebrations and my mushy-gushy feelings! Continue reading Turning 24 in the Peace Corps