Welcome back to my blog! I have completed two weeks at my internship, and it has been a great experience so far. I expected to be at the mayor’s office the whole time, however, I have been surprised to see that I will be completing my internship in different places. I began with an introduction at the mayor’s office, I spent a day at a tourist information office to get to know Tirana better, and for the past week and a half, I have been at a social center for the elderly and kids, kids who receive different services like food (for those who are in the streets) and therapy (for those who have autism). Thankfully, I have had the opportunity to get to know many of the people who come to the center. Because the center is only open during the day, there is no space for shelter, but the people that come are grateful for it.
The elderly people who come in the morning have been very open and willing to share their stories. Many of them live alone because they do not have kids, or their kids have immigrated outside of Albania. Their love for their kids is clear because they even showed me a warm welcome, and they were very interested in learning about my own life outside of Albania. It seemed like they were being reminded of their own children and grandchildren. Most of them were gloomy because of their situation, however, some were very active. One of them even danced the first day, despite having lost her daughter! Being able to speak Albanian allowed me to become very close to each of them, and I am extremely thankful.
As it pertains to the kids, I have been able to be a part of a few of the therapies and shadow the psychologist and speech therapist who work at the center. Although I was not sure what to expect from this experience, I have learned a great deal about the different aspects of autism and how children and their family structure can be affected. In addition to the kids with autism, I went to the summer camp that the center offers for the kids who have economic difficulties. I was one of the “teachers” for the few days that I joined them, and the joy the kids delivered was contagious despite their situation.
I look forward to keeping you updated with my experiences. Thanks for reading!