Category Archives: Tirana

Bunkers and Cable Cars in Tirana

After traveling from Saranda to Tirana, Laurel and I checked out the two most highly rated “Things to Do” in the city: the Bunk’Art 1 Museum and Dajti Ekspres Cable Car! They were both engaging and worth the trip to the suburbs!

Saturday, November 25, 2017, 9:50pm

I was so incredibly tired this morning when we left Saranda for Tirana that I slept almost the entire five-hour ride into the city. I dozed on and off while my head bobbed up and down with the movement of the furgon. The van was incredibly roomy, and we had a smooth ride from start to finish.

When we arrived in Tirana, it was already about 11:00am. The biggest problem with traveling in the fall (apart from the hit-or-miss weather) is the limited hours of sunlight during the day. Laurel and I have to get in all of our sightseeing before 4:30pm or we risk poorly lit pictures and sketchy travel options.

The biggest problem with traveling in the fall is the limited hours of sunlight during the day.

We made our way into the center of town, walked over to the hostel, and then we grabbed a quick bite to eat at a grilled meat restaurant. We got portions of fresh beef and lamb, grilled bread, and Greek salad, all of which were delicious!

Back on the road again, it took us a few tries to figure out how to get to the bus for Bunk’Art 1, the museum/Enver Hoxha bunker on the outskirts of town. We also wanted to ride on the cable car into the mountains. Continue reading Bunkers and Cable Cars in Tirana

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The Marathon of Trainings: Part 1

Trainings upon trainings upon trainings upon trainings.

Peace Corps tries to make sure that volunteers are well-equipped to handle any challenges that come their way, and as I’ve gotten more and more involved with different Peace Corps groups, I have the singular pleasure of attending more and more trainings.

Honestly I really do enjoy getting out of site every once in awhile, learning something new, and getting to spend time with other volunteers. But the marathon of training sessions in October completely wore me down.

From Tuesday, October 24 to Monday, October 30, I was out of site attending:

  • A 1-and-1/2-day Peer Support Network training in Tirana
  • A 1/2-day warden training in Berat
  • And a 3-and-1/2-day language training also in Berat

All together, that meant a lot of sessions, a lot of coffee breaks, and a lot of traveling. It was fun, exhausting, and (most of the time) interesting! Still, I don’t know how I survived the endless training sessions of PST. Once you go to permanent site, it’s hard to get back into trainee-mode.

So without further ado, here are my highlights from my week of trainings: Continue reading The Marathon of Trainings: Part 1

In-Service Training in the Capital

Following my week-long drama camp, I headed straight to Tirana for In-Service Training! It’s a chance for all the A20 volunteers to reunite, and all of our counterparts came along for the ride as well! I ate a lot of delicious food, caught up with friends, and learned a lot as well!

Sunday, August 27, 2017, 10:24pm

First day of In-Service Training (IST)! It’s been a long, long afternoon and evening in Tirana. But in the end, life goes on and Peace Corps volunteers continue to fight another day.

After IST, we’ll be refreshed, renewed, and ready to jump right back into our communities with big ideas and project proposals.

IST is a week packed with sessions and new information for volunteers and their counterparts alike. We’ll learn about project design and management and most importantly how to apply for Peace Corps grants and funds. We’ll also spend time in our sectors talking about our challenges and successes, best practices in the field, and opportunities for the future.

Ideally after IST, we’ll be refreshed, renewed, and ready to jump right back into our communities with big ideas and project proposals.

Today I took the bus into Tirana with some other volunteers. We left at 5:00am, and I slept hard on the bus ride. Once we arrived in the capital, we found our way to the hotel without any issues, and in the afternoon I had a lovely coffee with some of my A20 friends! Continue reading In-Service Training in the Capital

The All Peace Corps Conference in Tirana

In mid-July, Peace Corps volunteers and staff came together for a conference in the capital! I celebrated the 4th of July at the ambassador’s house, took part in a large service project, and enjoyed catching up with old friends while meeting new ones!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017, 9:44pm

Whew. I left Permet bright and early on the 5:00am bus, and when I finally arrived in Tirana the weather was already blazing hot. My friends and I got very lost walking from the bus stop to the hotel (though I later learned that it was pretty much a straight shot). We got all turned around, I was hot and miserable, and after a lot of walking we finally gave up and hopped on a bus.

All of the volunteers trickled into the lobby, and the entire hotel was bustling with noise and excitement.

Once on the bus, I asked for directions and a nice Albanian woman actually got off at our stop and walked us to the other bus terminal. And once we caught that bus, another Albanian guy helped walk us to the Ring Center. It’s amazing what a smile and a bit of Albanian can do. So finally, finally we arrived at the hotel and I could clean up and relax a little.

As the afternoon continued, all of the volunteers from the previous group (A19) and my group (A20) trickled into the lobby. Very quickly the entire hotel was bustling with noise and excitement. I greeted all of my friends, got introduced to new A19ers, and generally was swept along in the upbeat and happy atmosphere.

Our conference is broken down into three sections:

  • Our Work, which is an opportunity for volunteers to share stories about their activities and projects and to discuss the overall scope of Peace Corps as an organization
  • Service Projectwhich is three-hours of park clean-up involving 90 PCVs, 25 staff members, and 50 youth
  • Town Hall, which features guest speakers on the topic of why volunteerism and civic engagement is important and how youth in Albania can make the difference in their own country

Continue reading The All Peace Corps Conference in Tirana

Swearing In and New Beginnings

I’m officially sworn in as a Peace Corps volunteer, and the day is filled with emotions, from excitement to anxiety and even a bit of sadness. But overall I’m extremely proud of how far I’ve come and optimistic about where I’ll continue to go in the future!

Friday, May 12, 2017, 11:45pm

I’m officially a Peace Corps volunteer! It’s incredibly exciting and yet completely nerve-wracking at the same time.

Today was our Swearing In ceremony! At the end of Pre-Service Training (PST), trainees who have made it are “sworn in” to become an official U.S. Peace Corps volunteer. Swearing In essentially marks the end of the longest interview process imaginable and the beginning of the rest of our service.

Swearing In essentially marks the end of the longest interview process imaginable and the beginning of the rest of our service.

I started the day by getting ready alone in my room. For the first time in weeks, I put on music and was able to dance around the room, which was incredibly freeing. I decided on my suit since it’s more professional, and I ended up regretting that decision because it got so incredibly hot.

Because it’s the 20th Anniversary of Peace Corps Albania, we had our Swearing In ceremony at the American ambassador’s house. We had a long and hilly walk and trees were very sparse, so everyone was sweating by the time we reached the house. Which, of course, was when Peace Corps staff decided that we all had to take a group photo. Wonderful. After I cooled down a little, I busted out my own camera and got some really nice shots of the Librazhd group and other volunteers.  Continue reading Swearing In and New Beginnings