We are officially halfway into our first week of Peace Corps training in Albania. It is hard to believe that I have only known my fellow group members a little over a week. We are five days and counting into our ten week stay at our host families houses.
Language training is obviously a crucial and intensive part of the preservice training. We have been going over a lot of material and I can see why they say that PST is going to be a challenge. Our group in Pajove had an assignment to walk around our town in order to draw a map and point out our homes and the important buildings. It was a great day to enjoy the beautiful sun and soak up some vitamin D that North Dakota winters have deprived me of. We made stops at some of our host families and it continues to amaze me how friendly and hospitable Albanians really are. I have never felt more welcome in someone’s house as I do here. Not to mention the fact that everyone wants to give you treats/ snacks/ coffee when you come visit.
It has been hard to find time to work out here, days during training have a full schedule when you count time to study. Hopefully I will be able to figure out a good time to go running so that I can enjoy the views of this gorgeous country. Last night I had told my sister that I wanted to go running before school one of these mornings. Apparently we have two dogs, which she lets loose in our yard during night and locks away when she goes to school in the morning. It is a good thing I didn’t sneak out this week without telling her or I would have found out the hard way that my family has dogs that don’t like strangers!
It is hard to explain living with a family that doesn’t know the same language as you. You start to learn that body language can almost carry on a conversation, as my host grandpa would show you. I had supper with my host grandpa and grandma tonight and they do not speak any English whatsoever. Up until this point I have been sitting there, smiling and laughing while they converse Shqip in one word questions/answers so that I understand. Tonight, however, I am quite proud of the “conversations” we had and the variety of topics that I was able to comprehend. I was able to understand that there is little fruit available in my village of Pajove compared to the city of Elbasan. My grandmother also told me that the apples I have been eating for breakfast are picked by her every day out of our backyard. No wonder they are so delicious! My grandfather talked about his admiration for the Peace Corps and how they are doing wonderful things for Albania. It is nice to hear how much he appreciates the work that all the volunteers are doing in his country, he is a neat man. He does not like George Bush for sending troops into Iraq. They laughed at me when I told them that I was full even though the food was delicious. I told/acted out that my pants would be too tight if I kept eating that much. They thought that was hilarious, I hope they didn’t view it as a challenge! But according to my grandpa, if I keep going to school every day and looking at my language books my shqip will come- Avash avash (slowly slowly)