How Peace Corps and the Internet are Making the World Smaller

When I started this blog with the silly name “Dude Where is My Gomar (Donkey),” I didn’t know if anyone would even read it. After surpassing 5000 views recently, I wanted to write about how the internet creates an opportunities for Peace Corps Volunteers to create cross-cultural understanding that just wasn’t possible before.

Peace Corps, the US government organization I work for in Albania, has 3 goals. Two of these goals are about increasing cross cultural understanding between the countries volunteers live in and the United States. The third is about providing skills to our host country partners.

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of 5000 Views, about half came from countries not Albania or the USA.

After learning that about half my readers come from countries not America or Albania, I am reminded about my experience hosting European backpackers through the website couchsurfing. After serving as a personal tour guide for Belgian, Polish, German, etc folks, I realized there is something of a new cross cultural goal I was fulfilling. This goal I would describe as being a liaison between the rest of the world and my host country in a way that only a foreigner integrated into his community can. This goal has only been made really feasible with blogs and couchsurfing.org.

For example, had I not hosted backpackers they may never have ventured into villages, visited a small town in the mountains, experienced being invited to coffee in a villager’s house, or had a conversation (or friendly argument) with an Albanian who doesn’t speak English. I remember taking some Belgian folks to a village where we had coffee with an Albanian whose brother was in Belgium. Afterwords, the Belgians said to me ” I don’t know if we would have invited Albanians to our house in Belgium for coffee.” Albanians don’t have a great reputation in Europe so I took his reconsideration of Albanians to heart.

The idea of this fourth cross-cultural goal comes to mind when I think about people who read my blog. Would those people from Indonesia or Nigeria have ever understood why the 2013 election in Albania was so important or would they have ever listened to patriotic Albanian pop music if they hadn’t stumbled across my blog? Would they ever have read the wikipedia page about ethnic Albanians in neighboring countries , an article about sex-selective abortion in Albania, or the wikipedia article about the 1997 uprising in Albania?

I’ve had a great time learning about Albania and writing about my time here in this fascinating, oft-forgotten country. When I see in my blog’s visitor statistics that people from around the world have read my blog, I cant help but feel that by sharing Albania internationally that I have made Albania a little less forgotten globally. This may not be one of the Peace Corps’ goals, but  it is certainly one of mine.

Thanks for reading :)

to read more about the Peace Corps, check out the wikipedia page.

7 responses to “How Peace Corps and the Internet are Making the World Smaller

  1. Welcome to the role of international public relations! I did mass email updates during my service (before I knew what blogs were). You have a heavy responsibility with a bigger microphone because anyone could be reading it. Thanks for sharing a bigger picture of what is going on in Albania! You will appreciate the documentation of your experience years from now…when the details start to fade.

  2. Dear Xho,

    Judith Bates here…as is Brendan’s mom. I LOVE YOUR BLOG! Since visiting Albania I have such a desire to learn more about the people, their history, and all of eastern Europe. I am reading a very cool book, Where the West Ends by Michael Totten. He is a journalist traveling thru the Middle East, Balkans,and the Black Sea in the mid 2000s. The history is fascinating. I love his observation: “Albania is the Wild West of Mexico in the Med”
    This is a must read for you, if you havent read it. If you cant get a copy I would be happy to send you one.

    Keep blogging!

    judy

    • That sounds like a cool book and I’m glad you enjoy my blog. I can get a kindle edition of the book so no worries about sending me a copy but thank you very much for the offer! I hope you had a good time in Shqiperia :)

  3. Hi,

    It also serves as a great resource for future volunteers. I’ll be moving to Albania in March as part of group 17. Thanks for all the great information on Albania! Not sure if our paths will cross but I am looking forward to arriving.

    -Lauren Alpert

    • You’re welcome for all the great information about Albania :)

      I’ve built up a small library of ebooks and other sources that I will make available to your FB group.

      Kalofsh Mire

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