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.Continue reading “The Regional GIS Project”