Friday, February 14, 2014

So, other than reading all day...


(May I take a second to ask a rhetorical question? How hard is it to fix a simple-circuit lamp? Apparently too hard for this idiot. I mean, come on. Didn't we all do the lemon lamp project in elementary school? (Didn't I take calc-based physics in college?) All I wanted to do was reattach a loose wire in my lamp so I could have some nice ambiance (aka, not ugly hospital hallway white) lighting in my apartment...and it blew up. Even worse, the same thing happened to me when I tried to fix my bathroom lighting. I mean, what gives? What am I, an idiot? Or can I blame the stupid current surges here?)

...do I ever do anything here? Yes, I do. I eat cookies, sleep, put off doing laundry, let dishes pile up in my sink, and spend way too much time on the internet I do do real stuff. It takes such a long time to accomplish anything here for many reasons:

1. Political turnovers every election year (from director on down, every single public sector employee is either moved or replaced according to the whim of the winning party)
2. Communist mindset (the word of the director is absolute law - creative thinking definitely not encouraged)
3. Apathy (there are so many problems - so how can anything ever change?)
4. Corruption (whose pockets must be lined for something to occur - for approval, for employment, for resources, etc.)
5. Lack of resources, lack of funding, lack of training, and lack of planning skills

(just to name a few)

This is by no means universal and there are plenty of hard-working, inspiring, and determined Albanians I've had the pleasure to meet and work with. But as projects involve so many different individuals, just one or two contrary minds can throw a giant wrench into any plan. Thankfully, PCVs are all encouraged to have secondary projects - both to increase our reach and involvement in our communities as well as maintain our sanity.

My two big non-work projects are Piano and English. I currently have eight piano students (!!!), one private English student, and facilitate two English groups with Megan. These are the students I feel I impact the most and these are the activities I know would not occur without my presence here in Lushnje. (So when I feel like a useless miserable failure, I remind myself of these kids and feel a little bit less like a useless miserable failure.)

I have piano lessons on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday afternoons in a church and two private homes. An Irish missionary who works with Victory School brought piano books for me to use with students, which has been such a wonderful gift! (I've discovered that although I studied piano for 13 years, I never really gave a thought to how I actually went about first learning it.) Some are utterly new beginners - including one six-year-old who is adorable and who totally does not get the whole "repeat after me!" thing - and some have a small background in music reading and solfeggio. (Side note for musical types: their version of solfeg is constant regardless of the key and it drives me insane.) But I get to play around on pianos keyboards and share my love and adoration of music and the piano with these eight kids and I LOVE IT.


This is actually a cheat sheet I made for a coworker and friend who want to start piano lessons, too.

I do English stuffs on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. On Thursdays, I go to the home of a pediatrician who works two doors down in the D.Sh.P. to tutor her 9-year-old daughter. The doctor, Elda, is practically a single mother because her husband and older son live in Tirana during the week for work and school; I have mad respect for this kickass Albanian lady changing what it means to be a modern woman in a conservative town! She insists on feeding me dinner and I've never been successful at insisting that no, please don't worry, I have dinner ready at home...because she can see right through that bald-faced lie and before I know she's put half a chicken on a plate in front of me and demands I eat. To which I oblige. Of course, there's an English lesson in there with Petrina, then often ballet dancing and hand clapping games and hair braiding.


Sorry for the crappy photo, but this is a screenshot of a freezeframe from an Instagram video. File sharing between devices in not my strong point. Don't judge.

Ina's voice kills me every time. Here she is doing eenie-meenie-minie-moe (shqiptar style) and 
reading from The Aristocrats (gotta practice pronunciation!)

Lastly, Megan and I run one English group and are helping out with another independent group. The latter group is a few students who want to make an ad for English education in Lushnje...and the rest of the country. Big dreams - planning skills = pipe dream. But the team leader was determined to get a hold of me and eventually, we met and I jumped on board. Hopefully I can share the results soon! The other group is mine and Megan's BFF English Club (they named themselves), which started out with about 7 guys and gals aged 13-16. It's now shifted to include 12-16 and is all girls - which is great, because then we have more time for Disney movies and debates featuring One Direction vs. Justin Bieber. This Friday we're decorating sugar cookie hearts and making Valentines - Albanians are just starting to celebrate Valentine's Day, but it's mostly reserved for married and engaged couples and our girls wouldn't have a reason to wear every pink-colored, heart-adorned item of clothing they own and mindlessly consume endless amounts of chocolate.



Idea mapping, mad libs, and goal lists with our crazy Friday night BFFs English Club.

...Question 3: what are some goals you have for this semester? "I want to say to everyone: I go to a place where I have fun and u don't!!! HaHaHa!!!

1 comment:

  1. Mary this is awesome!! All of your talents, interests and energy at work. Bravo! I am so proud of you. You always make the most of every you are involved in. I love you. Mom

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