Thursday, October 3, 2013

Gramsh Girls Camp

During the last week of August, I got the chance to help out at a girls' camp run by my friend Jen in Gramsh. I briefly alluded to it in this post, talking about things I love in Albania - because this was the motherlode of my favorite things:

friends - new old! (silver & gold, silver & gold, there's something tacky 'bout singing 'bout silver & gold...)
making a fool of myself
And more! (sorry this seems to be turning into an infomercial)

Another PCV, Joyce, kicks butt at photography and putting together videos, so I'm just gonna leave her newest creation here. (She also did the Fourth of July pictures and video - so talented!)

It was an awesome three days of working with teenage girls (so. hyper.) on healthy living, leadership, and communication with some amazing PCVs. Theses 20 girls from Gramsh blew me away with their English skills (it wasn't a requirement for the camp - which was mostly entirely done by Jen's counterparts in shqip - but most of the students wanted to practice their English), their acting skills, their creativity, teamwork, dedication, and fun. It was refreshing to see a group of Albanian teenage girls relax and let their hair down (literally...I think the final braid count I did was about 40 braids over three days), and be free to do and say what they wanted, instead of worrying what society or their parents or their neighbors would think. 

Jen did a fantastic job planning the camp, and she accomplished the not-quite-impossible-but-incredibly-challenging feat of getting Albanian women to do almost all the teaching and presenting, a three-pronged success:

1. Girls received the lessons and info in their native language, and as Nelson Mandela said, "If you speak to a man girl in the language he she understands, it goes to his her head. If you speak to him her in his her language, that goes to his her heart." (In case you're impressed by my grasp of brainy quotes, I must disappoint you and tell you that this is plastered all over all our language books.) 
2. Girls who didn't excel in English also had the chance to benefit from the camp.
3. The Albanians who helped run it gained skills on running a camp and have also been roped into (hopefully) doing another camp next summer! And if they don't, the girls from this year will badger them to insanity. 

The BG committee is actually working on extending these camps throughout Albania now, too. The Gramsh one was a kind of prototype-pilot camp, but it worked so well that I'm excited to do something very similar here in Lushnje. Girl power FTW.

I spent, like, half an hour trying to edit the British flag out and add in the Albanian one, but I was using Microsoft Paint and it was taking forever and then I was like, what am I doing with my life. 
No, seriously, why did I think this was worth my time.

Moral of the story: don't mess with the Spice Girls.


  1. First off....
    I noticed a lot of braids!!!
    Shout out to SPYL!!

    This looked so great :)