Five minutes with Ermioni Lena, Albania

Ermioni Lena, one of the students from the Student chapter-Gjirokastra, Albania, submitted a thoughtful and inspiring essay describing her experience as a member of PTPI and what it means to be human in a troubled world…….

Every day I wake up, and when I am in front of the mirror I ask myself, “who are you and what do you want to be?”. My answer is – “all I want is just to be a human person.”   Every day that passes we are less human. Why? Because our small isolated world is surrounded by money, power and glory. Out of our personal world there are a lot of problems. One day I thought more about it. If we look beyond what we see, we will understand how many people need us, how many pains we can heal, how many good deeds we can do, how much happiness we can bring. World peace comes from the soul of human nature, so what are we waiting for? It was this thought that made me be a part of the non-profit organization, People to People International (PTPI).  

PTPI has a mission to enhance international understanding and friendship through educational, cultural and humanitarian activities. This way it can be an active force in creating and sustaining a more peaceful world.   I have been a member of PTPI -Gjirokastra for more than 2 years now. Being a member of PTPI is one of the most unique experiences I have ever had. We exchange ideas and experiences among people of different countries and diverse cultures. That’s how we strengthen our network, create connections, and allow members to learn about other cultures and break down barriers to peace and understanding.  

There are about 24 members in our chapter that is called Student Chapter. We promote peace through understanding in our school or community daily. Chapters, the backbone of PTPI, organize a lot of projects, so we do. We work very hard on them and have a great time together. Working together, we enhance team-building skills. One of our projects was making Christmas cards full of colours and love. Since it is our first Christmas cards-project ever, our goal was to achieve approximately 50 Christmas cards, which we eventually accomplished. We sold the cards at the Christmas concert, and we raised even more money for our project.

Astonishingly, we were more successful than we imagined. With those cards, we intended to do fundraising to purchase necessary items, clothes and food for orphan children. We first prepared the cards and then decorated them. Besides making the cards, we had the chance to meet and to chat with each other about our school life and our plans for Christmas. Another project at Christmas time was giving gifts and food for the families in need. These made them happy-and that’s what our mission is.  

As a member of PTPI, my day is more active and I love it because I am a girl full of energy. We as a chapter of PTPI have organized a lot of activities. Giving ideas how to make others happy is my favourite part. I am full of new ideas. I have met a lot of new friends. I am very sociable and I reflect this from the very first moment you meet me.  

My friends and I work hard for People to People International’s mission. Thanks to this organization, I have learnt more about the problems that people around the world face every day. I have learnt more about different cultures. All these opportunities help me to develop my leadership skills. Being aware of different problems helps us to solve them. Even though we can’t solve all the problems, at least we try. Real life is full of problems and getting involved makes me very social.  Our greatest test is when we can bless someone else while we are going through our own storm. We are human and act like humans. I try, and I feel better.

Ermioni Lena, PTPI Student chapter-Gjirokastra, Albania.

Gjirokastër is a town and a municipality in southern Albania. Lying in the historical region of Epirus, it is the capital of Gjirokastër County. Its old town is a World Heritage Site described as “a rare example of a well-preserved Ottoman town, built by farmers of large estate.” Gjirokastër is situated in a valley between the Gjerë mountains and the Drino, at 300 metres above sea level. The city is overlooked by Gjirokastër Fortress, where the Gjirokastër National Folklore Festival is held every five years. Gjirokastër is the birthplace of former Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha and notable writer Ismail Kadare. It hosts the Eqrem Çabej University.

The present municipality was formed at the 2015 local government reform by the merger of the former municipalities of Antigonë, Cepo, Gjirokastër, Lazarat, Lunxhëri, Odrie and Picar, that became municipal units. The seat of the municipality is the town Gjirokastër. The total population is 25,301 (2011 census), in a total area of 469.25 square kilometres (181.18 sq mi). The population of the former municipality at the 2011 census was 19,836.