English is a universal language, and the ability to speak it unlocks the doors to countless opportunities around the world. It is a gift and I intended to give it to these children. I woke up every morning and was welcomed by the smiling faces of my students. While working as an ESL teacher in Albania, I didn’t just work with a team of other teachers plan and execute creative ways to teach my students, but I was able to grow my bond with the best students I have ever had on either side of the globe. My experience with my 2nd graders extended beyond the classroom when I volunteered to coach their football team and accompanied them in trips around Albania. Not only did I teach 2nd grade, but I also had the opportunity to teach a class of high school students on a mountain-top resort in the Southern Alps. I was not tasked with teaching them English, but to teach them about life itself. My experience as a teacher in Albania blurred the lines between teacher and mentor.
While I was working as a teacher, I was also able to work as an Innovation Intern for a non-profit innovation depot called Protik ICT Resource Center. I was not told what to do, but instead, I was given a dinner plate of immensely interesting projects, and I got to choose which projects I tackled. Each new project brought a completely different and new experience with a myriad of interesting people to partner with. I got to work with the other team members in Protik to overhaul the technological capabilities of the law firm which represented the Albanian Government. From planning to executing and implementing, I was a part of it all. In addition, I was able to work with a team of students from Tirana University who had started a start-up business. This is when my skills as a well-rounded person came into play, because not only did I help with the early stages of web and mobile-app development, I was able help with business model planning, drafting business plans, and digital marketing. While working for Protik, I didn’t feel like just an IT intern, but a person who was a part of a team of incredible people who used a variety of skills in his disposal. I would work with them again in a heartbeat.