Blood Feuds

I spent the last 2 weeks with a group of incredible young teenage women from Shkodra. My counterpart and I took them to her beach house in Velipoja for the country’s first ever sleep-away English language intensive summer camp. And I can honestly say I’ve never been so inspired in my life.

In a country that places such social restrictions on the roles of women (like not being allowed out after dark, not being allowed to date, having arranged marriages, etc), it was amazing to see so many young girls take this opportunity to push the boundaries. The first surprise was that their parents allowed them to come at all. So while I was with them- living, eating, sleeping, and learning in English- I took the chance to ask them about real life in Albania.

One of the girls happens to be a child-star actress who had just finished her first movie and will be leaving this fall to act in her second film in Italy. Her movie is called “The Forgiveness of Blood” (and its filmed right here!) so if you haven’t watched it yet, you should. It won lots of international awards and is still in theaters in the U.S. so if you want a little glimpse into why I’m here, doing what I’m doing, check it out. It’s a real life story about the blood feuds here in Albania and how they affect the day-to-day lives of ordinary people who were born with a death sentence.

Blood feuds are such a unique and scary part of Albanian culture and history that my service here would not be complete without trying to understand them. And even more interesting, is that my city- Shkoder- is at the center of it all. So here is the trailer for my student’s movie and a fascinating article about the blood feuds here…because they all put it into much better words than I can.

Her movie trailer:

the article:

“It’s not better. It’s not worse. It’s just different.”

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