Making Plans

Summer is here! My days consist of beautiful sunny days which are perfect for the river. An amazing selection of fruits and vegetables, which are finally cheap again. And of course, the inability to not get sweaty while sitting perfectly still, much less walking across town. I may or may not have a love/hate relationship with the heat in Albania.

Last year, I had just gotten to site and didn’t have much to do. I spent my first few months in Permet integrating and trying to learn the language. A lot of people here also go to the beach in the summer, so I found my days to be quite monotonous. This year however, it is turning into the busiest time of the year for me. I am in the process of planning a GLOW camp, writing a grant and continuing to make new contacts throughout the city.

I have been working with the school psychologist on several projects. She lives in a neighboring town, so we have been mainly communicating through text and email these past few months. With July fast approaching, we decided to meet for coffee to talk about more of the details of GLOW. Imagine my surprise when I walk up to the table and realize she is five months pregnant!

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Due to complications, she can help me set up the camps, but that was about it. She needs to stay off her feet as much as possible and take it easy in this heat. I was ecstatic for her, but In the back of my mind, I tried not to panic. Who was I suppose to work with now? There goes my fall projects that I was supposed to collaborate with her on. There goes my counterpart for these camps. There goes the only English speaker I have found to work with in my remaining year. I could tell I had been in Albania for over a year, because this didn’t make me instantly freak out. It was just back to the drawing board. Again.

Later on, we met with the physical education teacher for the high school. She was willing to help me with my July camp and I could feel myself breathing a little easier. She knew a good group of girls that should be able to come and she also has great contacts in the schools. There was still a language barrier, despite me having lived here for a year. Then again, I have come to expect that in my day to day life. She decided that we should move my camp up to the beginning of July instead of the end. I tried to explain why that was not a good idea. I had to plan my agenda, get supplies lined up and talk to more people about helping. We finally compromised on the middle of July and hoped for 15 girls to attend.

Throughout coffee, the Phys-Ed teacher, kept commenting on how beautiful she thought I was. She wanted to know how tall I was. Why were my teeth like that. If my eyes were natural. If I dyed my hair. How much I weighed. And of course, if I was married. Admitting that I was not, opened up a can of worms. She was soon talking about every Albanian man she knew my age and how I needed to meet them.

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The first few times, I laughed at her attempts of explaining why I needed an Albanian husband. I would just smile and then try to keep planning the details of my camp. To which she would answer one question, and revert back to talking about finding me a husband. This back and forth battle lasted for another half an hour as we finished our coffees. I did succeed in getting the bare bones of my camp hashed out and managed to not get engaged. Success?

Sus came back to visit!

Sus came back to visit!

Nettles, an herb that will sting your skin if touched uncooked.

Nettles, an herb that will sting your skin if touched uncooked.

Don't be fooled by my smile, they tasted like weeds.

Don’t be fooled by my smile, they tasted like weeds.

They wanted to show me how they're working in the community. Hanging up a "No Drugs" sign.

They wanted to show me how they’re working in the community. Hanging up a “No Drugs” sign.

A soccer tournament in the center

A soccer tournament in the center

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Some of my favorite neighborhood soccer players!

Some of my favorite neighborhood soccer players!

This past week has reminded me, the only things that are reliable during an Albanian summer are the stifling heat and my water schedule.

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1 thought on “Making Plans

  1. It is very kind that your Albanian friend wants to help you “solve the problem” of being single at your age, a deficiency in the eyes of the culture. My answer was always, “In american marriage, work is 50/50, cleaning is 50/50, and childcare is 50/50. Equal partners.” This usually led to the response of “no Albanian boy will want to marry you.” Really? Bummer.

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