The 8th Wonder of Peace Corps

As fitting as the title is for how I am feeling about my service, I am going to start out with showing one of my favorite Albanian songs. As many of you know, I service the minority Albanian population in Macedonia.

This song is something I love to dance and smile to.

Now, you must be thinking…what the heck does this song mean?

Here it is Albanian:

Mrekullia E Tete

Ty te sheh njehere ne njemije vjet
Ti je mrekulli e tete mbi k’te planet
Kur te kam ty prane
Gjaku neper vena rrjedh si nje vullkan
Per ty boten e leviz
Nje sekonde mbi buzen tende me braktis
A nuk e shikon
Se ti je per mua nje ne nje milion

Je i vetmi frymezim qe kam
Ti je nota ime e tete ne pentagram
A nuk shikon
Se ti je per mua nje ne nje milion

ku do qe je, ku do qe jom
menien un e kom te ti non stop
s’ka lidhje sa tjera jon perreth meje
une pervec teje tjeter nuk shoh
se ti jeee…
uji n’sahare, parajsa n’toke
engjell i bardhe, mrekulli e tete n’ket bote
se ti ma ndreq diten pa ty gjithcka osht e kot
ftyra jote o si lindja e diellit ne mengjes
zoni yt o kanga ma e mire qe e kom n’vesh
e nese ti don at’here une ton jeten t’pres
se ti jeee…

Do te dua ne cdo jete
Je parajsa qe me pret

Se ti je per mua qielli i tete
Si ti je ne toke i teti kontinent
A nuk e shikon
se ti je per mua nje milion
Nje ne nje milion
Nje ne nje milion

Se ti jeee…
Se n’ylber ti je ngjyra jeme e tete
Nje si ti vjen vec nje here n’jete
Se ti jeee..

Nje ne nje milion

That clears everything up right?

I didn’t think so…

So here is my translation:

The Eighth Wonder

i can see you once every thousand years
You are the eighth wonder of this planet
When I have you next to me
The blood in my veins like a volcano
For you I move the world
A second on your lips leave me
Dont you see
you are to me, one in a million?

You’re the only one breath that I have
You are my eighth notes in the staff
Do not you see
you are to me, one in a million?

Wherever you are, wherever I am
I think of you non stop
It does not matter how many more are around me
I besides you do not see any
Because you’re …
The water in the Sahara, heaven on earth
A white angel, the eighth wonder in this world
cause you make my day better, without you everything is useless
Your face is like the sunrise in the morning
Your voice is the most beautiful song I have in my ears
And if you want, then I’ll wait a lifetime
Because you’re …

I will love you in every life
Are you the paradise that awaits me

Why you to me are the eighth sky
Because you’re the eighth continent on Earth
Dont you see
you are to me, a million
One in a million
One in a million

Because you’re …
Because you’re my eighth color in the rainbow
Someone like you only comes once in a lifetime
Because you’re …

One in a million

My last blog post was discussing how hard the Peace Corps can truly be, but it wouldn’t be right to just talk about the hardships and none of the amazing benefits and experiences I have had.

This week seemed to be a turning point for me. Something clicked in my head about how to perceive the remainder of my service. I have about six months (give or take a couple of days depending on my departure date that I win, there is a lottery system in my country of service for when I will leave) left in my service. For some reason this number seems scary. I have six months left to savor the support system I have built here. I have six months to appreciate and cherish the culture I have become accustomed to.

This past Wednesday I went on a misafir (I was a guest in a local’s house). I have never been to this person’s house, but they have wanted to get to know me for over a year. As soon as I enter this house, I instantly felt at home. The man of the house greeted me with open arms and treated me with respect. He, from the start, understood that I was here to learn about him and his family. His wife was someone I will remember the rest of my life. She is from below the neck. In a culture like this and form of handicap is either approached patronizingly or ignored disrespectfully. Her face reflected many stories of hardship, but still looked at the world cup half full. It is amazing the second you step into someone’s house how you long to be with them. I had the urge to drop everything and move in with them. Their kindness and complete understanding for me was overwhelming.

On this misafir I found myself talking to them about a lot of my core beliefs and values about women’s gender roles, the challenges in Macedonia, and the rich Albanian culture. This family carried out huge plates of french cherries and strawberries while we sat and drank Turkish tea. They spent 20 years in Switzerland and had a unique perspective of their culture, family, and heritage.

This, this experience is the 8th wonder of Peace Corps. In the midst of hardship we find ourselves lifted from the bottom and seeing the world from a high. Meeting these kind people that treated me as family. Discussing topics close to my heart and them rating me with love and respect. How does this service manage to surprise me at every turn? I may thing I have everything figured out and then I find myself in amazement and wanting more.

“Peace Corps: the toughest job you’ll ever love.”

This statement seems to sing true through my soul.

After this awe-inspiring experience, I opened up my Facebook and find a compliment from a teacher at my school. She said (translated by me from Albanian): “Kelly, you have not only learned how to speak beautifully in Albanian, but also learned how to write eloquently in Albanian. Thank you for everything you are doing at our school.”

I was caught by surprise. Compliments are rarely given in the culture. They find compliments embarrassing (WAY MORE than in the states) and rarely give them because they do not want to embarrass the other person. So, yet again, I find myself in awe and truly thinking, wow Peace Corps this is the 8th Wonder.

I encourage you to listen to The 8th Wonder by Alban Skenderaj and think of it as an ode to Peace Corps:

The next day there was a package that arrived for my school. We expanded our English school library to 160+ books (including all of the Harry Potter books)! My students shower the books with joy and excitement. Currently the school has a twice a week book check-out program, but next year I hope to expand that to a reading reward system.

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