Albania: The Fulbright Application

I got an idea. This time around I wasn’t going to go to Albania just to visit. I was going to go there with a purpose; a purpose would sweeten the deal. My big idea: I imagined teaching English and perhaps American culture to local students in Tirana. I found a program called the Fulbright Foreign Exchange program which offers grants to do teaching and research abroad. I was not a professor, but Fulbright had a program for students or new graduates. I was thirty at the time but I fit the requirements because I graduated college late, at twenty seven. 

Fulbright for Students was a prestigious government program.  But I thought I had several qualifications. First of all I was Albanian. That should count for something; I mean I knew the language, I was born there, and I was well acquainted with the country. I had been there on three previous visits and had lived there until  age 9. Secondly, I was a writer; granted I had never written a scholarly work before, but nevertheless I had already written a poetry book and 2 novels. That certainly ought to count for something, and most of all, I had the strong desire to reconnect with Albania. Any immigrant who goes to a new country can never forget his motherland. The older I grew the more I became interested in my roots. Thus I thought that Fulbright would be the perfect opportunity for me to go and live in the place that gave birth to me, Albania.

I filled out the online application, I gathered letters of recommendation, I scooped up transcripts from my alma mater and I wrote a project statement. About six months later I got a reply from the Fulbright student program: “Mr. George Shetuni, you are a terrible writer; how dare you apply! Please, never talk to us, write to us, or even think of us ever again.” Kidding!  Nuk ja mbusha syrin, as they say in Albanian. “I did not fulfill their vision.” Maybe I was too qualified for their taste. Maybe they wanted someone the opposite of me, a slacker who partied his way through college with a D average, skipping all classes, attending all football games, and who can’t even locate Mexico on the map, let alone Albania.  Well, anyhow, be it as it may, being a writer, I can handle rejection. I’m used to literary agents rejecting me all the time. It doesn’t bother me. OK, maybe it does, for a day, but it gradually wears off.

My dreams of going to Albania and being officially affiliated with an Albanian university blew up in smoke. That achievement would have boosted my ego, given me a sense of pride, purpose and accomplishment and practically speaking, a lot of money. But I was not going to receive a grant; nor was i going to receive a class of students to guide; nor was I was going to live in Albania for nine months. But I would go there under my own initiative, independently, for one month, with my own money, and have no one to teach but my own self.

Today’s Albania video:

Jemima in Albania

Albania: The Persuasion to Visit

Where should I begin? Let’s begin where I last left off. “I was depressed, for one whole month,” wrote I at the end of my essay, “Albania: A Visit Back Home,” which recounted my last visit to Albania in 2012. I was depressed for one whole month? That was not enough or even accurate; try for one whole year and half, for it is true, friends, I missed my country, and i wanted to go back there.

I kept leading an aimless life here in America holding down some volunteer positions in the meanwhile. I worked as a librarian, shelving DVDs. Other than picking up a movie after work to reward myself, it wasn’t very rewarding. I worked in an animal shelter, and got to pet cats and walk dogs, but that wasn’t my passion. I went to the gym three times a week, but it was all for show. I was no body builder, nor a fitness buff. I went to coffee houses almost five days a week, to the point of boredom. I always sat alone, even though I would have preferred friends. At my favorite shop, there was an elegant brunette making coffee behind the counter who I always looked at. She knew I liked her, so she made sure to avoid my glance. There was no point in attempting to ask her out. I would certainly have been denied and so I never did.
All the while reality, or at least my reality seemed and felt bleak, for what I desired was to be back in my country, to walk those streets, to speak that language, to taste that food, and to be denied by those women! I suppose I just felt things would be better there. I couldn’t wait and so I made sure to go back there a year and a half later in April of 2014; to Albania, that I thought was a beautiful place. i thought i would have a wonderful time.

However this time around, unlike my previous visit in 2012 nothing was the same. It appears that history is a sequence of opposites. While everything went wonderful then and it was the vacation of a life time, the vacation in 2014 was anything but, and perhaps that is why i have yet to write it down until now, 5 years after the fact. But today I’m writing it down because I’m bored and what do writers do when they get bored? They do the same thing everyone does. They practice their craft, and so I will practice mine.

to be continued…

***

Today’s historical reading:

excerpt from Lord Byron’s letter to his mother (1809)

To me he (Ali Pasha, Albanian tribal chief) was indeed a father, giving me letters, guards, and every possible accommodation. Our next conversations were of war and travelling, politics and England. He called my Albanian soldier who attends me, and told him to protect me at all hazards. His name is Viscillie and like all the Albanians, he is brave, rigidly honest, and faithful, but they are cruel though not treacherous, and have several vices, but no meannesses. They are perhaps the most beautiful race in point of countenance in the world, their women are sometimes handsome also, but they are treated like slaves, beaten and in short complete beasts of burthen, they plough, dig and sow, I found them carrying wood and actually repairing the highways. The men are all soldiers, and war and the chase their sole occupations. The women are the labourers, which after all is no great hardship in so delightful a climate.

I could tell you I know not how many incidents that I think would amuse you, but they crowd on my mind as much as would swell my paper, and I can neither arrange them in the one, or put them down on the other, except in the greatest confusion and in my usual horrible hand. I like the Albanians much, they are not all Turks, some tribes are Christians, but their religion makes little difference in their manner or conduct; they are esteemed the best troops in the Turkish service. I lived on my route two days at once, and three days again in a Barrack at Salora, and never found soldiers so tolerable, though I have been in the garrisons of Gibraltar and Malta and seen Spanish, French, Sicilian and British troops in abundance.

Full Letter: Albanianhistory.net

Today’s Albania travel video: Jack and Gab in Durres, Albania

photo: AdventurousKate

Motivational Quotes 10/25/19

No one is judging you

The bad need fear evil not; while the good need goodness for their protection

We need God most when we’re ill

 Scheduling a treat eliminates the need for self control

Say “hello!”

Cope, manage, deal

I can’t feel happy when I am supposed to. When I am not supposed to, I feel happy!

You already are a success

Being alone teaches self-reliance

It’s not about success; it’s about the effort!

What is too good to be true is also too bad to be true!

Never mind what you missed out on in the past. Focus on the opportunities of today

Be yourself… as if one has a choice to be anyone else but who he is!

You want to be happy? Do not be a philosopher

Motivational Quotes 9/20/19

Don’t do stupid hard things. Do worthy hard things.

Don’t expect to be happy. You have to earn it by doing good things!

Live for today

Cope, Manage, Deal

The good thing about pain is it can never kill you. The bad thing about pain is it can never kill you.

You are never too sick. You are never too old. (anonymous)

You are appreciated where you belong

You have to feel good to create good art

Life uses us for its purposes…

Make a moment with a stranger, for a better day

Do something nice for somebody

Motivational Quotes 8/23/19

Work will keep your mind off your worries

Without pleasure work needs double the effort and yields half the profit; with pleasure, it yields double the profit from half the effort

When we are well, we forget misery; when unwell we forget wellbeing

Where there is an inspiration there is a way

What is now written on stone, was once written on paper

What joy do the old have but to take an interest in the life of the young?

The face is the canvas of the brain; it paints a vision of what the brain thinks

Creativity is everything. When the mind is at its best, it is the most creative

When Rome is burning, you can’t stay the course

Our wills and fates do so contrary run -Shakespeare

Half the job is looking the part, the other half is acting it

Motivational Quotes 6/24/19

George Shetuni

There is no way to go back, but there may be a way to go forward

Whether it is lived right or lived wrong, life is hard. But the life that is lived right is hard in a rewarding way, while the life that is lived wrong is hard in a regrettable way.

The first draft sometimes is the best draft

Even a Toad has four ounces of strength – Chinese proverb

“We lived our lives as if life was forever. To live one’s life without a sense of time is to squander it.” — Diana Trilling, The Beginning of the Journey

Failure is only true after a real and worthy effort; failure after the first try is a foolish lie.

For what human ill does not dawn seem to be an alleviation? –Thornton Wilder

If you count everything you been through, it proves you are stronger than you think

View original post 54 more words

Motivational Quotes 7/26/19

Sometimes it’s good to hold on, sometimes it’s better to let go

When you mind your own business, life is easier

Success is temporary and failure is temporary –Phil Collen, Def Leopard

My position couldn’t be any worse! –Fitzgerald

Timing is of the essence!

Only destiny can protect you in life

Do better!

I don’t want to change my life. I want to like my life!

Our intelligence travels throughout our body, and especially to where others place their gaze

It doesn’t matter that you don’t do your craft at the highest level; it matters that you do it

We envy what we ourselves cannot do

Opportunity is where luck meets preparation -popular