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US Peace Corps Albania ACTIVE!
|Post opening date:||
June 1992 / reopened March 2003
See main article: Albania sites.
Official Peace Corps information
For the official Welcome Book for Albania see here.
For an editable version of the Peace Corps Albania welcome book on this wiki, see Albania welcome book.
The normal way of getting around Albania for volunteers is by bus or furgon. A furgon is a van that travels regularly on a particular route, for instance Tirana-Elbasan. Typical furgon protocol is that the driver will cruise around in the town of origin, looking for passengers, and not leave until the furgon is full. By contrast, a bus leaves at a specified time regardless of passenger load. In spite of this, a furgon trip tends to take much less time than the equivalent journey by bus. It is also more expensive, costing sometimes as much as twice the equivalent bus fare.
Buses and furgons regularly carry a stash of plastic bags (çese) for the use of carsick passengers.
Until recently, the Albanian education system divided the grades into 1-8 (shkollë tetë-vjeçare, "eight-year school") and 9-12 (shkollë e mesme, literally "middle school", but corresponding to high school in the American system). As of the 2008-2009 school year, this is scheduled to change, with grade 9 being moved to the elementary division, thus yielding a change in nomenclature from shkollë tetë-vjeçare to nëntë-vjeçare ("nine-year").
Students in Albanian schools typically have all their classes in the same room, while their teachers move from room to room. There are some exceptions to this, in particular language classes at foreign language high schools, which may have separate rooms designated for specific language classes.
Lessons in the Albanian language (Shqip, pronounced roughly "shcheep") consume a large part of Pre-Service Training. This can be both a blessing and a curse, as mastery of the language is a tremendous asset in nearly every aspect of volunteer life, but hours upon hours spent in Albanian class tend to wear on all but the most language-focused trainees. Every trainee is tested in a language interview near the conclusion of PST, and Peace Corps Albania policy is that every trainee must attain at least the level of Intermediate Low. In practice, failing to meet this standard only means that the volunteer in question will be officially required to hire a language tutor (reimbursed by Peace Corps) upon arriving at site.
Some peculiarities of the Albanian language include the existence of both a definite and indefinite form of every noun, including proper nouns (thus both Tirana and Tiranë); a nominal case system similar to that of Latin; the existence of clitics (pronominal forms that coexist in the same sentence with their antecedents, for example Unë e njoh pronarin: "I know (him) the owner"); and a few sound contrasts that can be difficult to distinguish reliably for a speaker of English (q/ç, xh/gj, l/ll, y/u).
One fact that is an occasional source of amusement for Albanian learners of English is that the Albanian homophone of the English word car, with the R pronounced as in American speech, is an extremely vulgar word in Albanian.
Current Albania volunteers
At present there are two volunteer groups serving in Albania: G9 (2006-2008) and G10 (2007-2009), with G11 scheduled to arrive in mid-March 2008.