Anti-Trafficking Training of Trainers

For the past year I have been working with three other women in the health sector of my group as part of the Peace Corps Anti-Trafficking committee. This was one of the many committees that I decided to join when starting my service. The group before us had created an anti-trafficking facilitation guide during their service and we wanted to expand on that during our time on the committee. We began brainstorming and reached out to an anti-trafficking NGO in Tirana to partner together for an anti-trafficking training of trainers. We decided that we wanted to work with professionals across the country to implement activities for youth and marginalized populations regarding human rights and anti-trafficking. The NGO, Different and Equal, was extremely interested in working together to make this dream a reality and we decided to apply for a US Embassy Democracy Grant in the summer/fall of 2014. Another member of the ATIP committee spearheaded most of the grant writing with help for the rest of us on the committee and after a few months of waiting, we were informed that we had received the grant. Then the work began. We emailed back and forth, sometimes over ten emails a day, to make sure that all the details were in order throughout the entire planning process. Each member of ATIP was in charge of leading a session at the national training of trainers conference. I led a lesson about working with youth and developing interactive lesson plans. It was really quite the experience for me to have the opportunity and the honor of working with so many wonderful professionals dedicated to stopping trafficking in Albania. We were even able to print and translate over 500 copies of the facilitation guide that the group before us created. Those guides are being distributed to Peace Corps volunteers and organizations all over Albania. I am so proud of the work our ATIP committee did over the past year and I can’t wait to see what the next group has in store for the committee. Here is the press release with more detailed information about the project.

PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER COMMITTEE AND LOCAL NGO COMPLETE ANTI-TRAFFICKING TRAINING IN TIRANA

The Peace Corps Albania Anti-Trafficking in Persons Committee (ATIP) partnered with Tirana-based not-for-profit organization, “Different and Equal” (D&E), completed a successful training of trainers (ToT) at the Hotel Mondial in Tirana on Feb. 11-12.

The trainers were awarded a US Embassy Democracy Commission Small Grant for a year-long anti-trafficking education prevention program last June. The project consists of two parts: Phase I, a 2-day training of trainers; and Phase 2, community-based educational sessions by the participants in their communities, in conjunction with a 6-month monitoring and evaluation component, implemented by Different & Equal, assisted by Peace Corps Volunteers.

Approximately 40 Albanian professionals, representing many communities were educated on human rights and human trafficking, along with key sessions preparing participants with the information and skills needed to deliver trafficking prevention lessons to raise awareness and strengthen grass-roots efforts to end trafficking within their communities.

Sessions included topics such as, What Makes a ‘Victim’ Vulnerable, Risk Factors and Warning Signs, Designing Your Training: Step by Step, and How to Deliver an Effective Presentation.

Trafficking of human beings continues to be a major problem for Albanian society, rooted in deep poverty, corruption and the pervasive desire of poor people to migrate in search for better opportunities within or outside the country. According to US Department of State TIP Report 2014, Albania is a source country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor.

Participants were enthusiastic in their participation and role as trainees and trainers. The ToT had a wide variety of individuals from small towns to the capital city. Participants were chosen for a variety of attributes, including diversity of experience, access to a variety of communities, and skill sets. Most participants seemed invigorated by the sessions, as expressed by lively discussion and sharing of thoughts and experiences. ATIP and D&E are optimistic that the energy displayed during the two days of training will drive participants to provide a variety of community activities to educate a broad range of Albanian society.

Also present at the concluding ceremony were Deputy Minister of Interior and National Coordinator for Anti-Trafficking Elona Gjebrea, US Embassy Public Affairs Officer Valerie O’Brien, and Peace Corps Country Director Earl Wall.

Anti-Trafficking in Persons Committee (ATIP) Albania: ATIP is a an initiative of Peace Corps Albania, which promotes the dignity and safety of vulnerable women and children by combating human trafficking through spreading awareness and reducing stigma, empowering women and children to recognize and avoid dangerous situations, and supporting Peace Corps Volunteers, local NGOs, and state agencies in the fight against human trafficking.

Different & Equal: D&E is an Albanian non-for-profit organization established in May 2004 that provides education, intervention and reintegration services for Albanian victims of trafficking.

Two of my Albanian friends were participants

Two of my Albanian friends were participants

An anti-trafficking activity

An anti-trafficking activity

The ATIP Facilitation Guide printed in Shqip/English

The ATIP Facilitation Guide printed in Shqip/English

10974237_911061732272644_5769986233958333103_o

During my presentation on how to work with youth and develop engaging lesson plans

ATIP Group 16 Committee

ATIP Group 16 Committee

Discussing ideas during group work time

Discussing ideas during group work time

The director of different and equal beginning the training

The director of Different and Equal and a Peace Corps volunteer doing an interactive activity to show the effects of trafficking 

Advertisements

Outdoor Ambassadors Go Green Talent Show

My students in Outdoor Ambassadors, a youth group focused on environmentalism and leadership skills, decided to hold a talent show to fundraise money for community projects and future activities. We have been discussing and planning this show since the beginning of the school year in September. The show was originally planned for the beginning of January, but the students did not use their time correctly over the winter break to plan so we had to postpone the show until February. My site-mate Chuck and I wanted this show to be a student-run operation, so we gave the students some guidance, but left most of the decision making, planning, and preparation up to them. They wrote the program, found performers to partake in the show, made and sold tickets, decorated the auditorium, and coordinated with everyone to make sure the show happened. We helped push them along the way and make sure that they were adhering to deadlines, but in the end the students ran the entire show.

The show was focused on promoting environmental awareness in our community. The performers spoke with the audience about the importance of throwing away garbage, reducing pollution by riding bikes or walking, the effects of smoking on the environment, etc. We also had several other performances such as singing, bands, and dancing. It was a very dynamic show with fourteen different acts. The students really put in a lot of work to make sure the show was interesting for the audience. I also created this video to show the garbage problem in our community to persuade people to begin taking an active role in keeping their city clean.

It was quite the learning experience for all of us. The students got a taste of new and different leadership roles; they did not have prior experience planning and running a show. Not going to lie, much of the planning was chaotic. The students were confused about what roles everyone had and who were supposed to do which tasks. This meant that things often did not get done when they were originally planned. They ended up pulling it together with the proper amount of direction and time.

They began holding rehearsals several weeks before the show. The first initial rehearsals consisted of a lot of confusion and arguing, but things began to have more of a flow and consistency after a few tries. Still things were a bit rocky all the way up to the day before the show, so the students decided to hold one last rehearsal before the final show today and that is where the true madness begins…

Here is a breakdown of the day.

9am: Students begin arriving at the auditorium for rehearsals. Most of the students do not arrive until around 9:20am. Some other random students decide to skip school and attend the rehearsals as well.

9am-9:30am: The group starts decorating the auditorium with balloons. The balloon project does not get finished until around 10:30am. We had less than 40 balloons…

9:30am: Still waiting for most of the student participants to arrive. The power in all the building goes out. We have no lights in the auditorium.

10am: The power is still not back. The students are starting to panic. Everyone is using their phone lights to navigate through the pitch-black room. People are trying to change into costumes, put on makeup, and practice before the performance.

10:20am: The lights are still out in the auditorium, but power has come back to the rest of the building. We try to figure out what the problem is with the lights in the auditorium and supposedly the lights in the auditorium are connected to a separate generator that is part of a different breaker of a surrounding village. Very confusing situation.

10:40am: Still no power. Haven’t been able to start rehearsals. Now students who bought tickets begin to show up… over an hour early. They expect to be let into the auditorium, but I refuse because we still do not have light and still haven’t begun rehearsals.

11:20am: No lights still. The show is supposed to start at 12pm. The students (and myself) are really starting to stress out. The students who aren’t stressed are messing around in the darkness. People keep saying “Inshallah” or “God-willing” in hopes that the lights will return soon.

11:30am: The students from the high school are let out from school early. Over 300 tickets were sold. Hundreds of kids are standing outside the auditorium and trying to get inside. I was afraid there was going to be a stampede.

11:40am: The police arrive to help control the crowd. People are getting anxious all around. I am running around trying to calm everyone down and get everything together for when the lights come on. They tell us the lights should be back soon. They have been saying this for a while.

11:50am: The lights come back on!!! We begin letting students into the auditorium. It’s madness. Students without tickets are trying to enter and some of the Albanian adults are letting them in anyways, despite the fact that they don’t have a ticket.

11:55am: The auditorium is completely full – past capacity. Everyone is running around backstage trying to get everything together to start.

12:05pm: We begin the show without any rehearsals or preparation. The show must go on! Everyone was a bit nervous, but began to calm down as the show started.

12:15pm: I helped backstage with the music and technology. Sadly, since we did not have time to check the sound before there were some problems. The music was on way louder than the microphones, but everyone still did a great job. I accidently played the wrong song at first for the first singers, whoops.

12:30pm: The students’ energy backstage was so cheerful. All the students were cheering each other on and taking videos/pictures. Everyone practically forgot we didn’t even get to rehearse.

1:30pm: The show finished and I could breathe again. We celebrated with a big group cheer and group hug after dancing the finale to the “We are the World” song. It was a very happy moment.

Despite all the problems that we faced throughout the day, the students pulled off a wonderful show all on their own. They planned it. They implemented it. They did it all. I can’t explain how proud I was the moment that it began. It was such a crazy day, but totally worth it. The students made close to $400 for future community projects with the youth center and our city. They are such amazing leaders. I don’t know how I will ever leave them…

During rehearsals

During rehearsals

Getting ready backstage before the power went out

Getting ready backstage before the power went out

Waiting for the lights to come back on

Waiting for the lights to come back on

The full auditorium

The full auditorium

Two beautiful girls singing All Of Me by Ed Sheeran

Two beautiful girls singing All Of Me by Ed Sheeran

An anti-smoking skit

An anti-smoking skit

Another great singer

Another great singer

The valle dance group in traditional dress from central Albania

The valle dance group in traditional dress from central Albania

Another OA student giving a motivational speech

Another OA student giving a motivational speech

Our great narrators and directors of the show

Our great narrators and directors of the show

These guys were great; they really brought the energy out of the crowd

These guys were great; they really brought the energy out of the crowd

The entire cast during the finale

The entire cast during the finale

Me and the valle group

Me and the valle group

Part of the group after the show

Part of the group after the show

Model United Nations

Model UN is a youth group focusing on mock debate and international relations. There are nine students per Model UN team and they are split into three separate UN committees. The students in General Assembly are discussing achieving sustainable development: prioritization of the sustainable development goals; enhancing global partnerships through tri-sector development; and preconditions of sustainable development: safety, security, and good governance. Security Council is discussing conflict prevention and mitigation: measures to combat terrorism and trading in illicit markets; preventing regional escalation of internal conflicts in Middle East and North Africa countries; and preventing and reducing conflicts over natural resources. The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is discussing coordinated action against human trafficking: the costs of human trafficking to development: economics, society, and health; protecting refugees and marginalized groups from human trafficking; and the rule of law in the fight against transnational organized crime and human trafficking. Each student group represents a certain country and their views on particular topics affecting our world. They work together with students from other high schools across Albania, representing different countries, to develop problem-solving resolutions. This program is a great opportunity for the students to develop critical thinking skills and to practice English while learning more about the world around them through individual research. The team that I am facilitating is representing India.

As you can see the students are debating some pretty serious topics and to top it off they are doing it in their second language. It really is quite impressive. Our group meets twice a week for an hour and we discuss current events, the students’ research, public speaking and formal debate, UN committee procedures, etc. It is a lot of extra work for the students on top of their school course load and extra classes course load. (Note: A lot of the students in Albania take extra classes outside of public school in the afternoon because it can be difficult to actually learn in some of the public classes. There are usually some students in every class that have bad behavior and bring down the moral for the rest of the class making it more difficult to actually learn.)

Part of Model UN this year is completing a community project. The students in my group worked together to get over 400 books in English donated to our newly created youth center. This is the biggest collection of English books in the entire town. I am currently working on cataloging all the books to have a fully functioning library as part of the center.

We also recently had the opportunity to visit the UN House in Tirana. The students heard from representatives from UNDP, UNICEF, UN Women, UNFPA, UNHCR, IOM. It was an extremely informative session and the students all seemed to really enjoy our field trip together. During our time in Tirana, Chuck and I wanted to show the students a taste of American culture, so we took them out to eat at Cinnabon (which recently just came to Albania) and a restaurant called the Stephen’s Center, which serves American food. We’re hoping that we can also go and visit the US Embassy before the final conference as well.

One of the struggles that I have had as a teacher for the group is getting the students to put their research into their own words. Plagiarism is not taught in the same context here in Albania and copying articles word-for-word is the norm. Besides that though, the group has been going great and I am super proud of all the students thus far. The students recently participated in a regional mini-conference with other teams to practice what they had learned so far. The students all learned from the conference and were able to get a better understanding of what will be expected from them at the final conference in April. I can’t wait to see all their hard work at the final.

The entire group during one of our MUN meetings.

The entire group during one of our MUN meetings.

The group with all the boxes of books that were donated to the youth center for their community project.

The group with all the boxes of books that were donated to the youth center for their community project.

Before the mini-conference in Elbasan

Before the mini-conference in Elbasan

General Assembly room at the mini-conference

General Assembly room at the mini-conference

The GA team from Kavaje

The GA team from Kavaje

ECOSOC room at the mini-conference

ECOSOC room at the mini-conference

The ECOSOC girls

The ECOSOC girls

The Security Council girls

The Security Council girls

Practicing unmoderated caucus

Practicing unmoderated caucus

Waiting for the UN House presentation to begin

Waiting for the UN House presentation to begin

UN House Visit

UN House Visit. Don’t worry it hadn’t started yet. That is why everyone is on their phones… 

Hearing from different UN agency representatives

Hearing from different UN agency representatives

Eating American food for the first time!!

Eating American food for the first time!!

My counterpart Entela teaching the kids how to write resolutions in the proper format

My counterpart Entela teaching the kids how to write resolutions in the proper format