Lin Alexandra Mortensgaard (Denmark, AC 09-11)
Iris Vrioni, student at Atlantic College, is telling United Words about her homeland Albania. Many people know little about Albania, therefore United Words asked Iris for an interview about her Country.
UW: If you should describe your country in a few sentences what would you say?
Iris Vrioni: Albania is a small country, yet it has a very long and beautiful coast-line. 70% of the landscape is covered in mountains, which makes the landscape look rough and wild. There are many small villages and very few big cities.
UW: How would you describe the “Albanian” mentality or the people of Albania?
Iris Vrioni: The Albanian people are very conservative in their mindset – a bit old-fashioned sometimes. An example of this is the position of women in Albania. Recently a law has been passed, which states that 40% of the workforce in an institution should be female. The government is definitely trying to alter the role and status of women in the society, but it is difficult to change old family patterns and the attitude towards this issue. Generally women live at home till they get married. This often means that fathers see their daughters as a possession at least until they turn 18. I think this is a big problem, but as I said it is not easy to change this family setting. I believe Albanian women themselves should do something about this, however it is also the responsibility of the government to keep pushing towards a modernization of the female role in Albania.
UW: Do you find this the only area in which your country needs improvement?
Iris Vrioni: Definitely not. Some parts of Albania are very poor – especially the northern region. This part of the country is undeveloped in many ways. It is not uncommon to still use a sort of “blood revenge” if a member of your family is hurt or killed. Furthermore, many farms are managed with very outdated methods such as ploughing with horses. The infrastructure in the northern region is another crucial problem which means that certain villages are very isolated and during winter they do not always get sufficient supplies of food and necessities. The nothern region is obviously undeveloped in many ways and this is another problem we face in Albania. The last critical thing I want to mention is the problem of corruption. The wages in Albania are very low and so an easy way to earn some extra money is through corruption. I think an increase in wages in general would solve most of this issue. And this problem will have to be solve if we are to gain acceptance into the European Union.
UW: But is the government not influenced by corruption as well?
Iris Vrioni: No it is not. The government is really trying to eliminate corruption within its own rows. Numerous ministers have been sent to prison because of corruption. Moreover, we have the media, which really does work on a basis of freedom of speech. It functions very well and looks critically upon the government.
UW: You have mentioned a lot of negative sides about your country. Can you tell us about some of the positive aspects of Albania?
Iris Vrioni: Well, the capital, Tirana, is very modern and developed. In general the big cities are very developed. I also love the food, which is very Greek, Turkish and Italian inspired. We eat things such as Moussaka and baklava all the time. However, we also have our own traditional food. What I love about the Albanian people, is there willingness to share everything. They are very open to strangers and in general very helpful. They are also very keen on learning, because they see this as a way out of poverty and Albanian children are urged by their parents to take their studies very seriously. We are a very happy people and we like to celebrate and sing. We have a lot of parties and they involve the entire community – old and young. Finally, Albanians are very honest and they do not tolerate bullshit and empty phrases. They are very frank and state their opinion without concealing it in fancy words.
UW: Thank you very much…
-United World College Student Magazine-