Category Archives: Tirana

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


The National Model UN Conference: Part 2 (Final)

For the final day of the conference, we had our closing ceremonies at the official Parliament building in Tirana. It was an exciting and inspiring change of venue, and one of my students even declared that he’d be the prime minister one day!


Ending the Conference

It’s been a long, winding road to get to this national conference. For the past six months, I’ve stressed, worried, vented, and sometimes even felt like crying about Model UN. Because Youth Council was already dead in the water, I felt like if I couldn’t get it right with this activity, I’d truly be a failure. In the first early meetings, the students kept changing and no one would show up at all. But comparing those meetings to the team that attended the conference, the difference is night and day.

This morning, I woke up early, got dressed and made up for the day, and then went down for breakfast. Before long, the buses arrived and everyone finished up their meals and piled into the vehicles.

When we arrived, my focus was entirely on my team. I took as many pictures as I possibly could, and I tried to keep my students’ spirits up. Everyone was excited to get the show on the road, and even the students who had scoffed at the idea of going into the Parliament building seemed impressed when we actually got there. Continue reading The National Model UN Conference: Part 2 (Final)

MC’ing the A21 Swearing In Ceremony

On a beautiful spring day, I returned to the Ambassador’s residence in Tirana for the A21 Swearing In Ceremony! I was invited to be the MC for the event, and while I was a bit nervous, I had an amazing time!

Saturday, March 31, 2018, 7:46pm

This afternoon was a whirlwind of activities. In addition to MCing the Swearing In Ceremony for the new group of volunteers, I was also splitting my time between the national Model UN conference (which deserves its own blog post or two). Long story short, I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off as I attempted to be in two places at once. But my morning went exactly to plan, and around 10:30am, I was on the bus to Tirana with plenty of time to get to the ceremony.

As I was sitting on the furgon staring out at the scenery rushing by, I could hardly believe that I was pulling my crazy schedule off. I’d checked in my Model UN students, gotten them settled under my co-team leader’s supervision, and I was actually early for my call time at the hotel. I’d run through the logistics of this day dozens of times, and not once did I actually think my plan would go as smoothly as I made it seem when I explained it to other people. 

I could hardly believe that I was pulling my crazy schedule off.

I swept off the bus and into the crowded station, avoiding taxi drivers and other passengers in my rush to the city bus. I had no problems getting to the hotel, but I did run into a few issues when it came to getting dressed. I had no other choice but to rush the last bit of my preparations in the dark, public restroom.

Still, once I was in my dress and my hair and makeup were mostly in place, I emerged from the restroom feeling like the weight of the world had dropped from my shoulders. I’d made it through the hardest part of the day – simply getting myself from Permet to the hotel in time – and I was ready to take on any other challenges that life threw at me. Continue reading MC’ing the A21 Swearing In Ceremony

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

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