20 November: Day of Arrival
Today, I set off for a Council of Europe training course in the Albanian capital of Tirana. The course will cover youth participation and policy and I am quite excited.
Last night was my engagement party so I am very tired as I head towards Glasgow Airport. A 29 year old Scotsman in Albania… this is going to be so much fun.
After landing at a foggy Gatwick airport and a brisk walk through to the flight for Tirana, I settled down to catch up on some very important sleep. As we began our descent in Tirana I was taking in the sites: hill top villas; large blocks of flats; beautiful scenery. It is sunny!
I took an airport taxi and asked to be taken to Chateau Linza. I do not speak Albanian and the driver did not speak English but we did manage to communicate. We were two Europeans, connected by a common heritage and both excited to be in a car with someone from a different country.
We found that we both knew a small amount of Russian and the driver was able to tell me about the museums and statues of famous people. It is amazing how we were able to communicate using a language of which we both knew little.
I arrived in Chateau Linza and met my roommate – a Macedonian called Viktor. We get on very well so far and have been sharing stories about our countries and our work.
People were arriving from all over the Council of Europe region and so today, we did not have a full work programme.
To break us in gently, there was a lovely dinner of Italian meatballs – Albanian style! and a 'welcome session' at 21h.
The welcome session was really good and we had a few ice breakers. The age range is mixed but we are all motivated for the same reasons – to learn more from our European family to improve the way that younger citizens are involved in society.
We finished and said goodnight to each other and I headed to bed – oh how I need it. Viktor is already sleeping as I type so I am signing off for now Europe and I will fill you in with how the official 'Day One' goes.
We will be looking at young people and how they are a part of society followed by mapping the Youth Sector. It will be hard work and I am looking forward to it!
Listen to Neil Wotherspoon in the podcast 'Europe's Youth Crisis'