An Experience that could change your life.

Hi everybody! My name is Marianna Rozzato, I’m 19 years old, I live in Messina, in Sicily. I decided to do my EVS in Albania, Tirana.  This is my second week here..  I chose to do a short-term EVS. My project is about helping child with disabilities. I live in  an house with other 7 volunteers, that come from Sardegna. I feel really good with them and we are already like a big family. Each of us is different from each other and in spite of our ages, we strongly agree.  We are divided in two groups and we work in two different schools. Even though it isn’t my first experience of volunteering , it’s always like a first time. The child are really wonderful, they give me satisfactions, even only with a simple smile or simply with an hug…IMG_3961

We organize a lot of activities, for example : dancing, singing, drawing, painting and we also stay in the garden or in the gym, where we play football, volleyball or basketball . By now, I haven’t had lots of opportunity to visit the city but I would really like to know Tirana.

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I also got to know  other Tirana’s girls and I really enjoy my time with them. Last Saturday we went out with a lot of people even of our Host Organisation:  “Beyond Barriers”. We have planted trees in a place quite unspoilt and to me , it has been really significant. I really like this experience and I hope that the other mounth that I’ll spend here, will be good and wonderful too.  All in all,  I think that this experience could change my life.

Marianna Rozzato

Cambio di prospettiva

CAMBIO DI PROSPETTIVA

Ciao sono Andrea, ho vent’anni e sono italiano. Quando ho deciso di intraprendere questo progetto ero entusiasta di iniziare un’esperienza ricca di aspetti umani e di novità. Si tratta infatti della mia prima esperienza fuori dall’Italia, a stretto contatto con ragazzi e ragazze italiani ed albanesi.

Vivere per due mesi in una città straniera con lingua e cultura differenti dalla mia, da subito mi è sembrata una grande opportunità sia per l’esperienza di supporto ai ragazzi nelle scuole, sia per la convivenza a Tirana con gli altri ragazzi italiani.

Ora che sono in Albania da circa tre settimane mi sento più a mio agio sia nelle attività sia nel conoscere la città e mi sento più tranquillo con i ragazzi che incontro ogni giorno nelle scuole, ed anche con i ragazzi con i quali convivo.

Uscire ogni mattina per passare la giornata nelle scuole insieme ai ragazzi mi fa sentire bene, dando un senso alla giornata già dall’inizio.

Nel fine settimana poi, con gli amici, usciamo in gruppo e giriamo per la città scoprendo nuove strade e nuovi posti, trovando quasi sempre un accordo per dove andare.

Incontriamo molte persone del posto, sempre gentili nei nostri confronti e sempre disponibili per  informazioni e aiuto.

Tirana sembra un po’ caotica, con molto traffico e smog, ma io ed i miei compagni di esperienza abbiamo imparato presto ad orientarci e nel fine settimana siamo soliti uscire la notte per conoscere qualche nuovo locale e il giro di giovani che li frequentano.

Da quando sono arrivato a Tirana è passato meno di un mese, ma ormai mi sento come se fossi in una nuova casa, con nuovi amici e con altre novità da scoprire.

Andrea

Impressioni su Tirana e dintorni

Uno splendido quadro dalle tinte bruno scure che dal verde delle montagne degrada a tratti nel grigio delle città, illuminato dalla luce di un tramonto prematuro che solo pochi chilometri prima abbagliava il tacco dello Stivale. Questa è l’Albania come appare dal finestrino dell’aereo, che da Roma mi porta a Tirana circa venti giorni fa.  La città ti avvolge come un mare di traffico, cemento e rifiuti sulle note dei clacson e i ruggiti di migliaia di Mercedes; forme indefinibili di palazzi dai più svariati stili e tonalità e gente, tantissima gente che cammina e vive la strada. I marciapiedi interrotti da imponenti tralicci dell’alta tensione, diventano lungo il cammino pavimenti piastrellati, terra o macerie risultato delle recenti demolizioni.
Lavoro come volontario insieme ad altri nove amici, in due istituti che assistono bambini affetti da disabilità mentali; qualcuno pronuncia già i nostri nomi, qualcun altro ci insegna l’albanese, altri semplicemente ci sorridono.


La nostra residenza si trova a ridosso del centro di Tirana, racchiusa in un reticolo di strade irregolari, contornata da tanti mercatini improvvisati. Dovendo riassumere in poche righe le sensazioni provate nei miei primi venti giorni in Albania, non posso non condividere il pensiero che mi ha accompagnato e mi accompagna durante le mie passeggiate per le strade della capitale e nei monti che circondano la città. Quanta bellezza inespressa, è la frase che riecheggia in continuazione nella mia mente, mentre attraverso le trafficate e sconnesse vie della capitale o sorvolo in funicolare le immense periferie che degradano verso i boschi. Il calore della gente mal si concilia col grigiore con cui talune volte la città appare al visitatore. Un mondo sommerso, da scoprire e da vivere.

Elias

Albania the land of changes

I’m Michele, a 24 years old boy from Cagliari. In spite of  living in an amazing and sunny island, I was looking for changes, after having looked into myself. It all began with the decision to take part in an Evs project to do volunteerism with children in Tirana, I went through it and here I am! Living  with a group of people in a foreign city, in East Europe was the first change and it wouldn’ t have been easy since I’ ve never been used to it but I was astonished to see that the people of the group are very open minded and particularly involving also because they like to be informed about many things ranging from history, news, politic, literature, places and music and their culture is huge so that is a pleasure to stay with them. At the beginning I was a bit spaced out but I soon got off thinking that this experience has two opposite faces, which is the point I want to write about, to speak about my impressions.

Living with a group of Italian people who have a similar cultural background, in a comfortable and cosy hostel is good but out of the hostel the city shows itself and spreads like a drop of oil, towards the mountains and the situation is different. Tirana is very big and has many wide and open spaces and streets  that makes for a metropolitan city, a capital, which looks like modern but in the same time has many hidden aspects inside. As a consequence it has been interesting to see how the city is changing trying to be modern, and it has a fantastic and big square, Skanderberg Square, many shops, restaurants, discos around and a modern block called “ Blloku” living with half destroyed houses, dirty streets and no zebra crossing.

I also got off thinking that any experience or trip really depends on how you live it and the people you live it with. I want to stress that because going out with the people of the group boils down to choose the most modern clubs and mall to go at evening in order to and have fun. The discos and pubs I’ve been to are very good and what struck me was that many Albanians I met in the streets during the situations of the everyday life or when I went out or went shopping is that they are extremely helpful and they like being like that! After all that, the point is yet to come: the real Albania, made up of lack of interest and information and difficulties of everyday’s life.

Only speaking with people who are really conscious of the world around them and only getting closer to the work of the project I began to understand the reality around me make up of people who want to change their environment and their lives and be free after years of Comunism and dictatorship, people who need other people, who need smiles, who need to help others and interestingly are very fascinated by Italy! And then I saw the schools where I began to spend my time as a volunteer. Their doors opened up to reality and there I saw the children who burden autism and mental disability, and I got to know that most of the people are not be able to identify autism and prevent it. That blew me away!

The work in the schools is funny as well as difficult and leads to reflections about life, about how much some people need help to take on something that they don’ t know and they don’ t know how to face. I refer to the children who suffer autism and their parents and I thought about how much their lives must be difficult and I soon realised that even me in the school didn’ t know how to deal with children who freak out because of the mental disability and behave like other kids don’ t, but I see it as a challenge  I want to take on it to prove myself!

Back to the school ( of life ) ! Kisses, Michele

“Someone should update Tirana’s wikipedia page.”

When I arrived in Tirana’s airport I found a welcome sign with my name and it was so nice to find the association’s volunteers waiting for me.

During the trip in the taxi, I tried to pronounce words like: “Faleminderit” or “Miremengjes” for ten times but it was so difficult for me! I didn’t expect this difficulty. The first day in Tirana was a sunny day and I saw so many palms that I thought it was a little bit similar to Sardinia. When I saw our house and my neighbourhood I found it nice and it is close to a colourful open market. I met other volunteers here and they are serious and kind people. I discovered that Tirana has a lot of inhabitants, more than I knew because they are about 1 million instead of 400 000, as wikipedia said. I saw some chaotic street and very poor people that was not funny to see, but I understand it’s possible in a city like this that grows up so fast.

We visited the 2 schools where we have to work and we talked first with the psychologist of the school cause she knows the children very well. The children started to give me all the satisfaction and feelings we need :).

Federica

Tirana, a beautiful mess

I arrived in Tirana two weeks ago and since the first moment I felt at home!

The city is a colourful mix between east and west Europe with the traffic that reminds me Beirut.

I’m part of a group of 9 Italian volunteers, aged between 20 and 29 years old. Our life experiences and attitudes are very different as well our characters. But in spite of this, since the first days we’ve create a friendly and “familiar” atmosphere at our home!Elisabetta

In these days we began to be familiar with the issue of disability. Ira and the others guys of Beyond Barriers provided us the on arrival training course during which we have learnt how to manage with disabled children and the basic rules of how to make a good public speech.

Then, these will be our main task during these two months: – – working in two different schools with children suffering of suffering of autism and learning disabilities and to inform youngster about the opportunities that offer to be a volunteer in Albania and abroad.

What else? My first impressions are super positives and rich of good vibes. Can’t wait to immerse myself in the Tirana way of life!

Stay tuned :)

Elisabetta

OVER THE TOP OF TIRANA

Hello I am Stefano, from Italy. Tuesday, 6th of January, I left Sardinia destination Tirana.
Curiosity took over me, many questions about the lifestyle of Albania, the reaction of the people 20 years after the defeat of Communist Dictatorship of Enver Hoxha, who isolated the entire nation for almost 40 years. Stefano D- Tirana

Since I was born in 80’s, I lived my childhood with the imagine of Albanians emigrants who tried to get to Italian coasts with all prejudices who burden themselves and, even though, these prejudices slowly disappeared when I grew up, my feelings towards Albania people were contrasting.

Once landed, the fascination of Tirana took me, the lights, the landscapes, the mountains, the contrast between western and eastern architecture. One of the incredible mixtures I have ever seen in my life. Wow!

I’m sharing this adventure with other 9 persons with whom I began to have a relationship of friendship and cultural and social exchange.
I went to the city in a period when everything is changing, modernization has reached its peak and there are demographic booms. These elements make the chaotic and disordered Tirana, and this for me being used to the relaxing life of my little town Oristano, was shocking.

After a few days, the welcome of Albanian people made me feel at home. Italians are considered brothers, the best neighbours that they had.
During the second weekend we went to mountains around Tirana, where there’s a perfect skylines of the city and where we realized how big it is (one of the biggest metropolitan area in Europe). In this simple way we understood that the impact of the urbanization is creating conflicts between the past and the present of the city.
I’m pretty sure these 2 months will be very exciting.

Stefano D.

Discovering Tirana

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Hello, I’m Mirko.

The sixth of January I arrived in Tirana to start my first experience of European Voluntary Service (EVS) working with disabled children through the receiving organisation :”Beyond Barriers”. I’ll stay here in the capital for two months. The first impression about the people and the city was very good. After that I got off of airplane, at the exit of the airport,a friendly taxi driver was waiting for me and my colleagues. He spoke to us in a perfect Italian making us feel at home. One of the funniest things was that in the mean, he was listening some italian music like Ricchi e Poveri or Vasco Rossi. After we had loaded up our luggages, the taxi left and precisely in the traffic circle outside the airport I noted a traffic sign that showed the word: “Kosova”. Arriving in Tirana, we went through a long congested boulevard with palms on its sides. At the beginning, I was shocked about the numbers of car that sped on the left and on the right of the taxi where I was staying in. One of the beautiful things of Tirana that affected me was a traffic circle with the picture of the eagles of the Albanian flag with its respective colours. In my opinion, Tirana is a city similar to some Italian or Turkish cities. On the second and on the third days we stayed here, the local volunteers help us to discover all the beauties of the city. We’ ve seen the giant sculpture dedicated to Skanderbeg, the opera, the historical museum and some streets of the city where there are many shops like fruit and vegetables stands. We live in a hostel situated in rruga Don Bosko, a beautiful neighborhood near the centre of the city, with all the facilities you need. One of my first impressions about Albanian people was that they are temperamentally similar to Sardinian people, they are more friendly with stranger and always ready to help you. In these days, we’ ve started to work with disabled children at the Dove Center and at the Special School Luigi Gurakuqi. My first meeting with the children of the Dove Center was very exciting because from the beginning, I established a good relationship with children and gradually I think that this relationship could become better. My relationship with the children is based on continuous mutual communicative exchange that is allowing me to learn many things about Albanian language and Albanian way of life. For now, we have started to work with the children teaching them easy things like the alphabet and the numbers. These days have been very satisfying for me and for my colleagues. Despite many commitments, we had much time to discover many areas outside the city like the mountains and I wish this experience carry on and improve day-to-day.

Stay tuned.

Mirko

A land to discover

Hello, i’m Davide and this is my first experience of  volunteering abroad like EVS. My first impression about Tirana, where I and other 8 Sardinian volunteers plus a Sicilian girl should stay for the next two months, is positive. The people that we have met until this moment (including the local volunteers of the Beyond Barriers association) are very friendly and available with us. Even if the city is disorganized and chaotic , I like the life style and I have adapted myself, then with the other volunteers I have a beautiful relationship.

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What about the volunteering project, we have done two days of training course with Ira about the job in the school with disable children and the promotion of European Volunteering Service in the high schools and in the Universities. Then we went to the schools which we cooperate and where we will do different activities, some of them decided by us with the disable children. We have known the children and the teachers.

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The impact was very strong, there are children with different ages and different disabilities. Each of us will focus on a child that will adapt to own features and we have to engage to obtain positive results but I am confident that this experience can fit and that I can learn more,  both personally and educationally. At the same time I hope to transmit beautiful sensations at the children with which we will stay in close contact for about two months.

Good Bye,

Davide.