Taking the Third Goal from Albania to NYC
At the end of last month, I returned to New York City from Albania for a close friend's wedding.
I took two weeks to see my friends and family, and I came across a chance to speak at a career week event at Floral Park Memorial High School.
In preparation, I thought about what aspect of the Peace Corps experience I could share with girls. Living in a different country, traveling around Europe, being a strong and independent women – it all seemed great but I realized they probably saw enough of that from the internet.
So, I decided to share the lives of their counterparts in Albania. I interviewed some of my female students in my community about their everyday lives and hopes for the future.
We started the presentation with my journey to become a Peace Corps Volunteer – how I had heard about it during college and decided to become a naturalized citizen to join the Peace Corps; how I got my master’s degree to become a more competitive candidate; why I chose to serve in Albania; how I learned my host country language; my experience living with host family that did not speak English; being a minority among Volunteers and in another country, etc.
All of the students were so engaged and interested in Albanian culture and history. They were even more interested in serious issues like gender norms and brain drain, and at the same time, mesmerized by the English fluency of the girls in the video.
“I can’t even speak Spanish after all this time, and how many languages do they speak?” said one American girl after learning most young Albanians speak two to three languages.
The video depicted only few girls in Albania, all of whom have dreams and are aware of gender norms. This really ignited something in the students of Floral Park and they became even more appreciative of what they have and what they can achieve for themselves and for girls around the world.
While I only shared my story for two hours (one more hour than I had originally planned), I sincerely hope that students learned something valuable that can be beneficial in the future. Maybe none of them will become a Peace Corps Volunteer, maybe some will. Either way, my goal to share Albania with Americans was a success.
The Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools program is dedicated to promoting 21st century skill and global competence through stories, activities and classroom resources – all of which are based on Peace Corps Volunteer experiences.