The Regional GIS Project

When I first was accepted into Peace Corps Albania, my official title was Urban and Regional Planning volunteer. I’d studied planning as an undergraduate, and being able to use my skills and education in an international development setting seemed like a dream come true. 

Many volunteers come into the Peace Corps with a certain set of expectations. And as much as I’d tried to leave any dreams of saving the world behind as I boarded the plane to Albania, I couldn’t help but harbor the tiniest hope that I’d be able to complete just one project related to my field. 

But the thing is, urban planning is hard, especially when you’re a newcomer to a community and even more so when you don’t even speak the local language.

When I first arrived in Permet, I learned that the bashkia was going to begin the process of creating a regional plan with the help of an outside firm based in the capital city of Tirana. A year and a half later, I’m still unsure how much progress has been achieved, but I do know that the firm doesn’t need any help from me.

As the months wore on, I began to give up on the idea of using my planning skills in my community during my Peace Corps service. I focused on youth development, project management, and other small projects instead.

Until I got the opportunity I’d been hoping for. 

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A Holiday in Himare

In early August, I had a girls’ weekend at the beach with two of my Peace Corps friends! Along the way I learned a lot of lessons about traveling in Albania, and despite some of the bumps in the road (literally) I had an amazing, memorable time!

To cap off my August vacations, I took a trip to Himare with two of my friends from the Peace Corps! We planned a girls’ weekend away, and it was my first experience organizing a vacation here in Albania.

Long story short: I had an amazing time, but I also learned a lot of hard lessons along the way!

Himare is a beautiful beach town located in the heart of the Albanian Riviera. It’s pretty isolated from the rest of the country and only accessible via the winding coastal road that connects Vlore to Saranda. It was one of the most scenic and beautiful drives I’ve ever taken, but also the most liable to make me carsick.

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