Albania PDW

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Pre trip

This year once again 21 students headed out to Albania to discover more about the culture but also help out at a primary and middle school in Mamurras. This is the 5th year that this trip has been running thanks to International Project Aid. International Project Aid focuses on helping out developing countries through education. Over the years ISZL has been raising funds to help improve the primary and middle school at Mamurras but also organise a cultural exchange between the ISZL students and Albanian students. This year we funded new desks and school supplies.

We had lots of organizing to do before heading out. We had to prepare for the english lesson and the morning activities which would be student led. We were separated into groups of 3-4 for the English lessons and had to come up with ideas of activities which we could do with the students for 45 minutes. We had some help from the translators but ultimately the students were in charge. We also  selected various activities which we hoped would interest all the students and ordered the equiscreen-shot-2016-09-28-at-16-29-41pment which we wished to use and donate to the school afterwards. We  had a basic Albanian language lesson and did some research about the Albanian culture and history.

Monday

Impatiently waiting at the airport, the 21 ISZL students, heading to Albania were restless, we were so excited to be on our way. After two connecting flights ISZL set foot on Albanian turf for the fifth year. At the airport we were greeted by our nine Albanian high school student translators and headed off for an hour bus ride to Shengjin, where the hotel was situated.

After some free time and dinner it was time to get to know our translators and finish planning our English lessons for our first visit to the Mamuras middle school.

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-16-31-45Tuesday

Tuesday morning! The wait was over, it was time to go to the Mamurras Middle School for our first time. That morning the ISZL students became the teachers! We taught the students English through a number of fun activities such as pictionnary, Simon says, hangman and more.screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-16-30-31

In the afternoon we visited the beautiful Lezhe castle. After an exciting first full day in Albania we immersed into the Albanian culture by having Albanian dance lessons. At the beginning some were hesitant but by the end of the night everyone was on the dance floor.

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Wednesday

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We started out the day by travelling to the school and leading our activities with the students. We divided into the five activities; volleyball, football, bulldog, capture the flag, frienscreen-shot-2016-09-28-at-16-39-40dship band making and face painting. All the activities were student led and the various classes got to rotate around the activities. This was amazing because we got to participate and play with all the students.

In thscreen-shot-2016-09-28-at-16-41-45e afternoon we travelled to Kruje to visit the national museum held in the castle. The museum is dedicated to Skanderbeg who is an icon to the Albanian people and constitutes an important part of Albanian history. We then had some time to walk through the village of Kruje and then went for lunch. We were surprised by a traditional Albanian band which allowed us to show off some of the dancing skills which we had acquired the night before.

We then headed back to the hotel and got ready for dinner as we would be spending it with some of our Albanscreen-shot-2016-09-28-at-16-42-20ian translators. We were dropped off in the center of Lezhë and taken in groups of two or three to the homes of our assigned translator. Everyone had an amazing time and came back with very full stomachs.

Thursday

Thursday was unfoscreen-shot-2016-09-28-at-16-28-12rtunately our last day visiting the school. The students of the middle school put on a wonderful show to thank ISZL and to showcase their amazing talents! From traditional Albanian dancing and singing, to Gangnam Style, and Selena Gomez, the children really showed us they can do it all.

And for the first time ever, we performed our own song, Riptide, in front of the whole school.

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-16-47-29Following a brief speech from Mr. Monk the school transformed itself into a party where everyone danced together. We did some traditional Albanian dancing, but also jammed to Jason Derulo and others. All in all it was the most fantastic way to end our last visit to the school.

After some lunch back at the hotel we headed out to one of Albania’s many screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-16-49-24screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-16-48-44

beautiful beaches which is unfortunately covered in trash coming in from Italy. There we spent some time cleaning up an area and finished by climbing a sand wall which finished by everyone rolling down into the water.

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-16-50-27To top off our last full day we had yet another dance party in celebration for a birthday. It was truly an amazing way to spend our last day in Albania. 

Friday

Friday was our last day in Albania. We made the most of our time left in the country by going to Durrës, where we got to walk around and explore. It was also our last chance to take advantage of the exquisite Albanian cuisine. After then it was time to go to the airport and head back to Switzerland.

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