May 18, 2012- Day 3 (Oblivious)

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In our second class with Dr. Weigand, we got into a more detailed discussion of identity and its two types: primordial and constructed. Primordial identities are intrinsic and unchangeable like eye color while constructed identities are not intrinsic and are subject to change like hair color or social group. The problem with the idea of primordial and constructed identities is that saying something is “primordial” or “constructed can give people excuses for their behavior or choices in life.

Saying everything is “primordial” can give people an excuse to do bad things or to refuse to challenge themselves and strive for greatness. For example, if a person is born into a poor and uneducated family, someone could argue that this “poor, uneducated” identity is primordial and a person cannot escape it or change it, perpetuating the status quo, or they could say that the identity is merely constructed and therefore subject to change.

On the other had, saying everything is “constructed” can cause great conflict between two or more groups. Given a slight division, people will construct their own identities against each other, one group to split into two and they will fight each other based on their perceived differences. Dr. Weigand gave the example of the Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda who were divided arbitrarily based on looks and this division eventually resulted in mass genocide.

After class we left the hostel and headed to the UNDP- Albania’s (United Nations Development Project- Albania) offices where we met with the Governance and Institutional Strengthening Cluster representatives Mr. Arben Rama, Head of Governance Programme; Mr. Eno Ngjela, Governance Programme Analyst; Xhesi Mane, Governance Programme Associate. We talked about their programs and projects to help Albania clean up their government and join the European Union.

After we left the UNDP offices we headed over to Sky Tower to have a short coffee break with one of Lori’s good friends. Then we jetted off to have lunch with Cindy Eldridge, a former prosecutor in Mississippi who now consults with the Justice department of Albania. After lunch we walked to the European Union Information Center, completely missing the giant sign on the outside of the building the first time we walked past it. We spoke with one of their representatives about what they do and Albania’s position in their quest to join the European Union and what they still have left to do before they are fully accepted into the union.

See the big blue sign we missed?

The rest of our afternoon was free to do whatever. Kelsey, Feagin, and I attempted to find a bazaar that was supposedly right around the corner from our hostel. Needless to say, we did not succeed but we did procure some delicious gelato instead, so all in all it was a fruitful endeavor. Later that night, Lori took Elijah, Cady, and me to the Boom Boom Room, a jazz club/restaurant/bar that caters to some very important artists, like Arben Theodhosi, and personal friends of the owner.

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