My Time in Europe is Coming to a Close (August 8)

My time in Europe like my time in Albania (I spent a little over two weeks in Albania) is coming to a quick end. Eight days until I return back home to America. I guess home is where my immediate family is. I would not have necessarily referred to America as my home but probably one of the most comfortable countries for me since I have grown up there. I was surprised how I felt at home in England during my work placement.  Even though I missed my family and friends, I did not feel it as harshly as I did in Germany. I guess family and friends make a home for you wherever you go. With my second parents in England, my close friends in Germany, and the welcoming volunteers, translators, and Vermosh residents in Albania. If you have a problem, the Albanians will find a solution for you in Vermosh. Before I “reflect” on my time in Albania, I just realized (or don’t remember) I did not cry when I left my friends behind in the various countries. The only time I cried was when my immediate family left Germany. Being in England showed me I could survive living in England, allowed my family to get to know me better, and I got to know them much better as well. With Germany, I learned (slowly) to survive in a country that does not have English as their native language (even though many know some English), to create a “home” for myself without knowing anyone in that country, meeting people who I hope I can stay in their lives but I have a sneaky suspicion that we will sadly never be as close as we were in Germany, and changing my current life plan, which will probably change again next month but I feel more hopeful about my post-grad life. Ok, now back to Vermosh. I was very skeptical about Albania since I did not receive much information about my volunteer stint. I luckily found a family at the airport who was in the same volunteer program (Balkans Peace Park Project…like on Facebook: as me, and we were luckily placed to sit next to one another on the plane . Skodra was boiling hot which I did not expect. Girls dressed to the nines with low shirts, short skirts, and heels. There were always groups of young males walking around Skodra as well. I felt there were more males than females there. I felt a lot better once we were in Vermosh and once I was in a routine again.

Students in Vermosh with the volunteers

We stayed in the locals’ guesthouses, which we paid for staying there as well as three meals a day. The lady of the house was in my class as well as her brother-in-law. I was supposed to teach children (ages 6-9) but there was only one who showed up on the first day, and eleven adults that the supervisors did not think would come so I volunteered myself to be a substitute for the first day until the coordinators could reorganize. However, after the first, rough day, I knew despite how poorly the class went I felt I bonded with the class, and I wanted to remain as their teacher. It is extraordinarily strange how quickly attached a teacher becomes with his or her class. I love how clever they are, love how surprised I am when a student understands the material, the girls who were always prepared, and the boys with their cheekiness. They all really wanted to learn, and it is so amazing to work with them. I guess I can no longer make fun of my friends who want to be teachers because those feelings can be very addicting and rewarding. I am going to miss teaching (although not preparing for the class), and my students.

My class

I hope they have happy, healthy lives and that our lives will hopefully cross again. I am surprised by some of the volunteers. Some of them I got along with who I did not think I would become friends with. I hope I will meet them soon and that it was a pleasure to have met them all. I am grateful for the interpreters despite our misunderstandings. I could not imagine lasting ten minutes in my class without my interpreter, and we worked very well together. Complete immersion would have probably been better for the students, but I have no formal training in teaching English so I am very grateful for the translator to be able to make sure everyone was on the same page.

All the volunteers

I am blessed to have to experience this amazing time in Europe, I hope I will see my friends again, and who knows what the future holds!

[youtube][/youtube] Thanks to Meghan for creating this beautiful slideshow and video of our time in Vermosh!

[youtube][/youtube] My class did a rendition of this classic for closing ceremonies!

[youtube][/youtube] An Albanian song that I thoroughly enjoyed!

2 Responses to “My Time in Europe is Coming to a Close (August 8)”

  1. rpoole says:

    thanks tom! I still cannot listen to that song. I will definitely see you guys next when I am in England! I am missing Albania too minus the scorpions! See you guys soon! Love Becca

  2. Tom Phillips says:

    And here, Becca, is that rendition of ‘My Heart Will Go On’ in Vermosh, at least in part: Hope you’re well and that you’ll visit us next time you’re in England. We’re missing Vermosh very much. Lots of love, The Family