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.
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.