Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Zbavitemi Se Bashku

For those of you thinking….WTF? That little tongue twister translates to A Play Day Together. And it’s the name of the Community Project my fellow trainees developed for Pajove and Bishqem, Shqiperia. Our goal was to create an event that would create an equal playing field for both boys and girls.

In most Albanian villages, there is an apparent lack of gender integration. And I’m not talking about how the girls play on one side of the playground and the boys on the other….more like the boys play outside and the girls are nowhere to be found…often because they are at home helping their mothers in the garden or housework. The disparity between the genders runs deep and is entrenched in a long and honored tradition.

So our event was designed to bring boys and girls together for pure and simple FUN…and in doing so, we may have had a little ourselves too!

We expected about 50 kids and were totally overwhelmed with the turnout. And frankly, it didn’t take long for the boys and girls to be playing side-by-side! I met some really amazing kids and fell in love with all of them. It was AWESOME and breaks down like this:

• 5 Weeks
• 8 Motivated Peace Corps Trainees
• 2 English-Shqip Translators (Thank you, Ornela and Vjollca!)
• 4 Activities: Tug-o-War, Sack races, Three-legged Race and Ultimate Frisbee
• 140 Manpower Hours: planning, marketing, design, execution
• 125+ Kids, ages 6ish-16ish
• Immeasurable pride and satisfaction

Did you find me? I’m in the back right corner holding up a little munchkin! Unfortunately, this picture doesn’t capture the handful of boys who tore their shirts off. And I realized that no matter the age, no matter the group…there are going to be boys who tear their shirts off. Clearly these guys will grow up to be the ones who rip off their shirts in bars or at parties and start fights with the phrases “You wanna go? You wanna piece-a me?” I also realized that every group of kids everywhere has a Ralphie from “A Christmas Story.” See the lower left corner. And without fail…I always love the Ralphie! Every group also has Do-Gooders, Athletes, Pranksters and Sweethearts. So the lesson here….people are the same where ever you go. (hey, that should be a song!) And there’s something very comforting in that… I like it! Me Pëlqen!

However….following the event, our stats started to look a little different:
• 8 thirsty Peace Corps Trainees
• 1 Club Saliu
• 33 Beers
• 52 Cards for “Kings”
• Too many “I Never’s”
• Immeasurable laughter…both WITH and AT each other!

No photo evidence of that… ;) Thank you Brenna, Ian, Tous, Lenae, Alex and Claurey ;). Cheers to us!

Peace, Love and Se Bashku-ness.


  1. ultimate frisbee? did you also begin that game aren't very good at this so i will clearly have the advantage???

  2. I have been disheartened to discover that live frisbee is not the same as wii frisbee. Either that, or your wii controls may need re-calibrated. Yea, that's it.