I feel like the old man in The Princess Bride trying to find his place in the book “OK, so where were we?”
Counterpart Conference was a good time in Durres, which is something of a fancy beach town, and the second largest city in Albania. My counterpart (now a counterpart is essentially an Albanian within the organization we will be working who acts as our liaise to the community and the organization) Endri is a pretty cool guy, recently engaged and very excited to teach me about the wondrous world of European football. Albanians love Italian teams, especially Milan. There is some division and many break from the trend and support Chelsea or Barcelona (it’s better than Manchester). To the delight and eye candy of many the Albanian national youth team was staying in the hotel that night.
Fast forward to the swearing-in ceremony . . . finally!! Make sure to check out local news coverage from Top-Channel. Not only was the Ambassador of the United States to Albania present, but so was the President of Albania, there to present Peace Corps Albania with one of the highest honors for all its humanitarian work, the Mother Theresa award. I feel like my work is done . . . but it’s not.
I’ve been about three days on the job,coming into the local Bashkia in Elbasan. It is the summer so fortunately things have been slow, but I am still staying busy what with some English editing for the municipality website, and getting my apartment ready for future visitors (friends, family, fellow volunteers . . . couchsurfers?), and learning about some pretty snazzy opportunities. Yesterday, for example, I was able to attend a day long presentation on gender development and the work of an Italian agency, whose name currently escapes me but is the equivalent of USAID, but Italian, and Tjeter Vizion, a national non-profit based in Elbasan. I didn’t understand a word since it was in Shqip and Italian, but it leaves me hopeful for the future.