After one month living in the country I found out that I will be living in Elbasan for two years, which is the city that the training is taking place. Currently I am living in a village 40 minutes outside of the city but go into to Elbasan once or twice a week to meet with the entire training group and have technical training. This is the opposite life-style that I had imagined when I signed up for the Peace Corps. I had imagined living in a mud hut in a remote village teaching basic health issue to the villagers. Well here I am in Albania in the Mediterranean where I will be living in a city of 120,000 people with running water and electricity most of the day, working at the institute of public health. Our job is not to just deliver the health education but facilitate the health care workers in designing and implementing health education activities.
Currently in training my site mates and I are working on preparing health lessons for the 8th grade and kindergarten classes as well as a community lesson and a community project, all the while taking language lessons and trying to learn the language and culture. It is pretty busy but it has been fun.
I am very happy in my placement even though it is nothing like I had imagined. I began the process by leaving it up to fate. There is something so exciting about relinquishing all control over your future to the hands of a federal organization. I did not request a region or country to be placed in or where I would like to be placed within Albania. I would have loved to be in the middle of no where but this is going to give me an incredible experience for my future work. I am going to be doing exactly what I am interested in doing in future jobs plus the added challenge of working cross-culturally and in a different language away from any support from family or familiarity. I will be exposed to NGOs such as World Vision and build connections with them. I will also learn much about public health in the real world or at least in Albania’s world and get experience in completing health campaigns, working with vulnerable populations and with sensitive topics. I know there are many challenges I will be faced with and I will have to work hard to prove myself to my co-workers as well as to myself. Although I will not be physically challenged as I had imagined I think that this will be an extremely mentally challenging experience. I am excited to get started. Wish me luck!!!!
Love you all,