The final GLOW post of 2014! Hallelujah?
What a blessing GLOW has been for my Peace Corps service - an opportunity to get to know tons of amazing young women, to teach, to play, to learn, and to travel!
The national GLOW conference hosted about 30 girls from all over Albania, and we focused on leadership back in their home towns, the future of Albania, decision making, self-discovery, female health, human trafficking, communication, and activities such as journal-making, yoga, self-defense, and water aerobics.
The camp took place over three days in Durres, at a beautiful hotel right on the beach.
What girls camp is complete without a bowl of tampons?
In addition to other PCVs helping out with activities and teaching sessions, we were lucky to cooperate with other local NGOs, including the Mary Ward Loreto foundation to talk to us about human trafficking in Albania.
The camp was held in a mixture of English and Albanian, but the vast majority of the girls spoke beautiful English and we tended to err towards that language. However, in respect to the girls whose grasp of English wasn't as advanced, we kept the sessions in shqip as much as possible.
One of my favorite parts was getting to hang out with quite a few girls I'd met at other GLOW camps I attended this summer. There's not much opportunity to see these girls again - outside of Facebook and running into them on the street if I'm ever visiting their town, which isn't very likely - and they are all such wonderful, energetic, engaging, intelligent young women!
Have you heard of One Billion Rising? Lots of GLOW camps did the dance this summer. The name comes from the fact that one in three women will experience personal violence - that's 1,000,000,000 women alive today who've been mentally, emotionally, sexually, and physically abused. So we dance to rise up for girls' empowerment and to break the chain of violence against women! Seriously, go watch the video. I know it's 9 minutes long. WATCH IT ANYWAY.
Unbeknownst to the girls, the American Embassy had arranged a huge honor for the whole Albanian GLOW group: they received the Embassy's prestigious ACT Now (Albanians Coming Together) award for the month of August! The award is given monthly to an Albanian who is working to make this country a better place, but for this one time they made an exception and included all 35 (or so) of the girls and youth leaders. Ambassador Arvizu attended the awards ceremony, as did our Peace Corps country director. The main speaker was Eglantina Gjermeni, Minister of Tourism and Development (and native of Lushnje!), herself a Woman Leading Our World.
Sorry the photos are a bit blurry (you can see there was quite a crowd of jostling students, volunteers, embassy and ministry officials, and the press)! There were so many photo ops, since each girl personally received her award from Arvizu - a celebrity here in Albania.
Lushnje's representative at the camp was Kristi, an amazing and intelligent 16-year-old who I'm sure is going to do great things! We'll be starting up our GLOW group in Lushnje for the year (hopefully) this Saturday. (It was amazingly difficult to find a place for twenty or so teenage girls to meet up - it has to be a free space, private, large enough to move around but with tables for lessons, open outside of normal working hours, etc. We think we'll be able to use the Qendra Kulturore Femijeve - the Children's Cultural Center - so keep your fingers crossed for us!)
UGH WHY ARE YOU BLURRY? This would have been the perfect photo. C'est la vie. I guess we'll just have to keep making new awesome memories. ;)