February 26, 2006: Headlines: COS - Albania: The Daily Item: Teri MacBride's 2 1/2 years in Albania with the Peace Corps was, she says, something she'll never forget

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Albania: Peace Corps Albania : The Peace Corps in Albania: February 26, 2006: Headlines: COS - Albania: The Daily Item: Teri MacBride's 2 1/2 years in Albania with the Peace Corps was, she says, something she'll never forget

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-25-123.balt.east.verizon.net - 151.196.25.123) on Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - 5:44 pm: Edit Post

Teri MacBride's 2 1/2 years in Albania with the Peace Corps was, she says, something she'll never forget

Teri MacBride's 2 1/2 years in Albania with the Peace Corps was, she says, something she'll never forget

"I was fortunate to be in Albania where they love Americans. It wasn't unusual to be kissed on the cheek by a little old lady. The people were so generous to me. They treated me very well," said Ms. MacBride, who returned to the Valley last winter.

Teri MacBride's 2 1/2 years in Albania with the Peace Corps was, she says, something she'll never forget

Work in Albania rewarding, Valley woman says
By Karen Blackledge
The Daily Item

LEWISBURG Teri MacBride's 2 1/2 years in Albania with the Peace Corps was, she says, something she'll never forget.

Especially the time she was offered the head of a sheep as an honored guest at a family's table on St. Lazarus Day.

"I picked around it," the Lewisburg resident said. "They wanted me to eat the eyes. I didn't."

She lived and worked in Pogradec, a city with a population of 40,000 on the eastern border of the former Yugoslavia.

"It was the toughest thing I ever experienced," she said, "but the best experience of my life."

She worked in an impoverished area where the unemployment rate was about 40 percent. The area is 70 percent Muslim and about 20 percent Orthodox Christians, she said.

"I never met anyone there who prayed five times a day," she said. Albania, which had been ruled by a dictator Enver Hoxha for nearly 40 years, "had been called the North Korea of Europe," she said.

As for its scenery, it has been called the Switzerland of eastern Europe.

"I was fortunate to be in Albania where they love Americans. It wasn't unusual to be kissed on the cheek by a little old lady. The people were so generous to me. They treated me very well," said Ms. MacBride, who returned to the Valley last winter.

This is a country that until 1991 had only 10 cars, she said, and where people traveled by train, horse cart or walked. Albania today has a population of more than 3.5 million, but only 148,000 passenger cars.

She was among 32 people in a group that initially underwent language and cultural training. She lived with families for three months during the training and then with a family for six months while in her assigned city. For the remaining 18 months, she lived in an apartment building.

"I felt very safe," she said.

In the city, residents endure regular power cuts three times a day. It was cold with snow-capped mountains surrounding the city four months of the year.

"I did laundry by hand and cleaned without a vacuum. The key to success was to get a routine," she said.

At night, she slept with five hot-water bottles to keep warm. While working, she wore her coat all the time because there is no central heating. She took her own paper and pens to assist her counterpart, who was a director of economic development and who spoke only Albanian and Russian.

"We did promotions to bring people to the city. We translated hotel menus into English, aiming at Albania, Macedonians, Greeks and traveling Europeans," she said.

She helped organize a wine-day festival that turned out to be quite fun and a tourist event.

"I tried to get the people to cooperate and speak with one voice and to prioritize," she said.

An example was getting youths to clean up along a lake shore.

"You start small," she said. "I couldn't bring them a new landfill or a new road."

She worked with the water company to insert notices in bills to ask customers to close their taps so they didn't waste water. She got the city mayor to do television spots about it.

"We had to find money to do these public spots," she said.

"I met some incredible people despite facing poverty and unemployment. The people are very family oriented."

She applied for and won a $30,000 grant through the Democracy Commission Small Grants to train people as objective observers at public schools. They inspected items such as toilets, roofs and playgrounds and submitted a report to the schools. Through the grant, they were able to pay an engineer to do cost estimates. The group made a proposal to the city on which schools should receive money.

"We got local businesses to contribute and repaired one elementary school and used some of the grant for that. It was a good democracy-building project," she said.

As for food, she ate beans and lentils. While at the market, she expected the butcher to ask her what cut of meat she wanted. Instead, he asked how much and chopped it off for her.

"I ate a lot of lamb and goat," she said.

"I was incredibly fortunate to have this sabbatical in mid-career," said Ms. MacBride who began working in January as executive director in economic development marketing at the state Department of Community and Economic Development, Harrisburg.

"I learned more than I could possibly have taught anybody. I will never forget my experiences," she said. "Not a day goes by that I don't think of how difficult it is there."

nE-mail comments to kblackledge@dailyitem.com.





When this story was posted in March 2006, this was on the front page of PCOL:


Contact PCOLBulletin BoardRegisterSearch PCOLWhat's New?

Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
March 1, 1961: Keeping Kennedy's Promise Date: February 27 2006 No: 800 March 1, 1961: Keeping Kennedy's Promise
On March 1, 1961, President John F. Kennedy issues Executive Order #10924, establishing the Peace Corps as a new agency: "Life in the Peace Corps will not be easy. There will be no salary and allowances will be at a level sufficient only to maintain health and meet basic needs. Men and women will be expected to work and live alongside the nationals of the country in which they are stationed--doing the same work, eating the same food, talking the same language. But if the life will not be easy, it will be rich and satisfying. For every young American who participates in the Peace Corps--who works in a foreign land--will know that he or she is sharing in the great common task of bringing to man that decent way of life which is the foundation of freedom and a condition of peace. "

Top Stories and Breaking News PCOL Magazine Peace Corps Library RPCV Directory Sign Up

The Peace Corps Library Date: February 24 2006 No: 798 The Peace Corps Library
The Peace Corps Library is now available online with over 40,000 index entries in 500 categories. Looking for a Returned Volunteer? Check our RPCV Directory. New: Sign up to receive PCOL Magazine, our free Monthly Magazine by email. Like to keep up with Peace Corps news as it happens? Sign up to recieve a daily summary of Peace Corps stories from around the world.

Top Stories: February 2, 2006 Date: February 4 2006 No: 783 Top Stories: February 2, 2006
Al Kamen writes: Rice to redeploy diplomats 20 Jan
Peace Corps mourns the Loss of Volunteer Tessa Horan 1 Feb
RPCV pursues dreams in America's Heartland 1 Feb
Sargent Shriver documentary to be shown in LA 30 Jan
W. Frank Fountain is new board chairman of Africare 27 Jan
Abbey Brown writes about acid attacks in Bangladesh 26 Jan
Christopher Hill Sees Ray of Hope in N.Korea Standoff 26 Jan
Jeffrey Smit writes on one man diplomatic outposts 25 Jan
Joe Blatchford's ACCION and microfinance 24 Jan
James Rupert writes: A calculated risk in Pakistan 23 Jan
Sam Farr rips conservative immigration bill 21 Jan
Americans campaign for PC to return to Sierra Leone 20 Jan
Kinky Friedman supports Gay Marriage 20 Jan
Margaret Krome writes on Women leaders 18 Jan
James Walsh leads bipartisan US delegation to Ireland 17 Jan
Mark Schneider writes on Elections and Beyond in Haiti 16 Jan
Robert Blackwill on a "serious setback" in US-India relations 13 Jan
Kevin Quigley writes on PC and U.S. Image Abroad 13 Jan
Emily Metzloff rides bicycle 3,100 miles from Honduras 9 Jan
Charles Brennick starts operation InterConnection 9 Jan
Lee Fisher tells story of Pablo Morillo 7 Jan
Nancy Wallace writes: Was PC a CIA front after all? 4 Jan

Paid Vacations in the Third World? Date: February 20 2006 No: 787 Paid Vacations in the Third World?
Retired diplomat Peter Rice has written a letter to the Wall Street Journal stating that Peace Corps "is really just a U.S. government program for paid vacations in the Third World." Director Vasquez has responded that "the small stipend volunteers receive during their two years of service is more than returned in the understanding fostered in communities throughout the world and here at home." What do RPCVs think?

RPCV admits to abuse while in Peace Corps Date: February 3 2006 No: 780 RPCV admits to abuse while in Peace Corps
Timothy Ronald Obert has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a minor in Costa Rica while serving there as a Peace Corps volunteer. "The Peace Corps has a zero tolerance policy for misconduct that violates the law or standards of conduct established by the Peace Corps," said Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez. Could inadequate screening have been partly to blame? Mr. Obert's resume, which he had submitted to the Peace Corps in support of his application to become a Peace Corps Volunteer, showed that he had repeatedly sought and obtained positions working with underprivileged children. Read what RPCVs have to say about this case.

Military Option sparks concerns Date: January 3 2006 No: 773 Military Option sparks concerns
The U.S. military, struggling to fill its voluntary ranks, is allowing recruits to meet part of their reserve military obligations after active duty by serving in the Peace Corps. Read why there is opposition to the program among RPCVs. Director Vasquez says the agency has a long history of accepting qualified applicants who are in inactive military status. John Coyne says "Not only no, but hell no!" and RPCV Chris Matthews leads the debate on "Hardball." Avi Spiegel says Peace Corps is not the place for soldiers while Coleman McCarthy says to Welcome Soldiers to the Peace Corps. Read our poll results. Latest: Congress passed a bill on December 22 including language to remove Peace Corps from the National Call to Service (NCS) military recruitment program

Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger Date: October 22 2005 No: 738 Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger
When the National Call to Service legislation was amended to include Peace Corps in December of 2002, this country had not yet invaded Iraq and was not in prolonged military engagement in the Middle East, as it is now. Read the story of how one volunteer spent three years in captivity from 1976 to 1980 as the hostage of a insurrection group in Colombia in Joanne Marie Roll's op-ed on why this legislation may put soldier/PCVs in the same kind of danger. Latest: Read the ongoing dialog on the subject.

PC establishes awards for top Volunteers Date: November 9 2005 No: 749 PC establishes awards for top Volunteers
Gaddi H. Vasquez has established the Kennedy Service Awards to honor the hard work and service of two current Peace Corps Volunteers, two returned Peace Corps Volunteers, and two Peace Corps staff members. The award to currently serving volunteers will be based on a demonstration of impact, sustainability, creativity, and catalytic effect. Submit your nominations by December 9.

Friends of the Peace Corps 170,000  strong Date: April 2 2005 No: 543 Friends of the Peace Corps 170,000 strong
170,000 is a very special number for the RPCV community - it's the number of Volunteers who have served in the Peace Corps since 1961. It's also a number that is very special to us because March is the first month since our founding in January, 2001 that our readership has exceeded 170,000. And while we know that not everyone who comes to this site is an RPCV, they are all "Friends of the Peace Corps." Thanks everybody for making PCOL your source of news for the Returned Volunteer community.


Read the stories and leave your comments.






Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: The Daily Item

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Albania

PCOL31826
40


Add a Message


This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.
Username:  
Password:
E-mail: