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Albania is located in southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea, and across from Italy and north of Greece. It is a small mountainous country with both Mediterranean and Alpine climates. After centuries of foreign occupation followed by decades of oppressive communist rule, Albania is embracing democracy and capitalism. Although it is a poor, developing nation, today Albania has Europe’s fasting growing economy. Travel guide Frommer’s has declared Albania to be the “Top Value Destination for 2012.” The following is from Lonely Planet, which ranked Albania as the Number One destination in the world in 2011: “Not just the preserve of the adventurous, Albania is a warm and sincerely hospitable country – with enough rough edges to keep it interesting.” While Albania has numerous small cities of historical or archeological interest, the capital, Tirana, is a bustling metropolis with heavy traffic and chaotic construction, but also with cultural activities, museums, good restaurants, cafes and nightlife. It has a large population of students eager to practice their English.
We have a WPI alumnus in Tirana who is serving as our liaison and who is a professional in public sector utility management, working extensively on problems related to Albania’s water supply. We also have a young Local Coordinator with a degree in Environmental Engineering from the Polytechnic University of Tirana, and she is contacting companies and agencies about future projects. Albania has many needs, and in addition to environmental projects, we are planning projects in education, tourism and business. For example, we will work with the Harry Fultz School, a pre-engineering high school in Tirana, to introduce programs such as robotics or game design. An example of an agro-business project involves the sustainability of harvesting medicinal herbs from Albania’s forests, as this is an expanding industry. We expect to work with the Ministry of Tourism and with private groups such as the Albanian Rafting Group. Albania is not all fun and games, but if you like adventure and are willing to accept some challenges living there, please sign up with us.