platform overlook with mountains
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Hello! My hope with this blog is to share a story about exploring some of the resources available at Dartmouth as early as freshman year. It begins with a visit to my First-Year Dean, Dean A'Ness, freshman spring. After visiting her office confused about what to do during my upcoming off-term, she challenged me, "Don't ask yourself, 'What should I do?'...what do you want to do?" After thinking about it for a little while, I decided that I would love to volunteer in Albania, the country my parents are originally from. My Dean pointed me towards a ton of resources at Dartmouth--I found an organization I wanted to work with through a database at the Dickey Center and applied for a grant from the Center for Service. They funded me to volunteer for the Albanian Alps Institute, a non-profit organization that, among other things, strives to help young women in northern Albanian villages continue going to school. Here's one of the schools where the magic happened:

school vrith albanian alps
school in Vrithë, Albania!

I moved between a few villages throughout my time in the Alps, teaching kids English and also developing a short program for them centered on health and nutrition. We incorporated fun activities like singing and yoga into our "curriculum":

teaching Boge albanian alps
class singing during English lessons!


yoga kids albania
yoga before lessons! they were surprisingly quiet this day :)

We also ended the program with a school dance, and took some group pics:

school dance adina and kids
smiling after the school dance!


group picture post school dance albania vrith
group pic!

One of the highlights of the program was getting to live with families in all of the villages I worked in. I got to be really close to them and learned about the difficulties of living in rural areas, especially for women.

vrith house view mountains
porch view from the house I stayed at in Vrithë


dafina adina albanian alps
Dafina, the older daughter of a family I stayed with in Bogë.

As with any experience abroad, I also took the opportunity to explore the surrounding area.

hike Steve albanian alps
Steve, the founder of the Albanian Alps Institute, leading the way on a hike around Bogë.


boge albanian alps views
#views on the drive to the villages

While reducing the experience I had that summer to a short blog doesn't do the people and students I interacted with justice, I hope it does give you all an idea of what you could do with some help from Dartmouth advisors and resources. Happy exploring!