I am starting to network in my community!! And it feels awesome!!
On Friday I asked my counterparts to take me back to the Culture Center of Kavaje because I want to work on projects with youth in the community. I have a passion for hula-hoop dancing and want to bring the trend to Albania. On a side note, I have actually seen someone in an Albanian music video hoop dancing, along with another girl doing fire-poi, which was super surprising. The last time I visited the Culture Center was during my initial site-visit, so I was excited to go again to see if I can begin helping out. I spoke with the director who is very supportive of me working with the children and running my own activities and I also spoke with another guy who works at the center. He is very nice and actually speaks some English! I am hoping that we can be friends in the future because he is close to my age and it would be nice to hang out with some shqiptars in the community. I am supposed to go observe a soccer activity through the center sometime this week, along with a traditional dance class. I hope that everything works out because I am extremely interested in youth programming!
This morning I briefly talked with neighbors who live in the building across from me while I was taking down my laundry that was hanging out overnight. I couldn’t quite understand the whole conversation, but I picked up something about a head massage (which confused me A LOT haha), something about her daughter coming over after I got off work, and something about practicing English and Shqip together. I assumed that the daughter would come over after I got off work to practice language, while her mom was working at the hair salon. When the daughter, Erida, came over to my house she immediately took me over to her mom’s work – she is a local hairdresser. I was confused, but that seems to happen a lot (I am very used to not knowing what is going on). It turns out that my neighbor, Shqipe, wanted to give me a hair treatment as a gift. I am pretty sure she kept telling me that my hair was unhealthy and she wanted to give it this treatment so that it would be healthy like hers. She also mentioned something about how “Miss Globe – Albania” also uses this hair product or comes to her to get the treatment (again, not sure). Overall, the experience was really fun, although a little confusing at times, but soon I will know the language better! It is nice to begin making friends in the community because it helps me feel more integrated and safer.
I always seem to have interesting experiences with Albanian hairdressers. I want to give you an example of something hilarious that happened in my old training site – Pajove. One day I went into the hair dresser to try and buy tweezers and she was trying to recommend one pair of tweezers of the other pair. Instead of using her persuasive speaking skills, she decided to take out each pair of tweezers and start tweezing my eyebrows without my permission! It was definitely strange, but really funny at the same time. Personal space in Albania isn’t quite the same as in the states.
I have also begun to build relationships with the different fruit and vegetable dealers on the street near my house. Now, some of the venders call me over everyday and want me to buy their vegetables instead of the other vendors – competition, ahhhhhh! I have narrowed my preferences down to two different ladies who have been very kind to me from the beginning, but I still have a favorite ;). Tomorrow, one of the ladies wants me to buy some random looking fruit that looks kind of like a watermelon, but I have NO IDEA what it is hahaha. She insists that I must try it for lunch and for dinner. We’ll see…
I just can’t wait until the school season starts and I am able to implement more health lessons in the classroom, along with hopefully started a youth group with my site-mate.