What is our success really made of? Yes, forward thinking and hard work are all part of the formula, but here’s the truth: We have fun, and we enjoy our work. Our interns are bright minds, which come with big dreams, and they are given the tools to make them happen.
Hailing from universities and organizations all over the country – or even outside of it – they’re helping us out with everything from involving local communities in the restoration projects to surveying monuments, and quickly showing us that they’re an interesting, diverse, and talented group.
We asked our interns, Afroditi and Marcela, working in different offices at Cultural Heritage without Borders to talk about their expectations and experiences. This is what they had to say.
I come from a region called Ancient Elis, in Western Greece, with a rich ancient and cultural heritage located near (and related to) ancient Olympia. From the early years of my studies in the Faculty of Architecture, University of Patras, I was particularly interested in the History of Architecture. Visiting and studying works of architecture, discovering or composing their constructional profile, as well as the social and historical frame in which they were created, made me develop great sensitivity for issues of maintaining and designating cultural heritage. Currently I am a Master’s student in the MSc in Conservation of Monuments and Sites, at Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation (KU Leuven), Belgium.
In 2013 in Pelion (Greece), I learned about CHwB Albania and the Regional Restoration Camps. After that I had the opportunity to get in contact with the head of the office Lejla Hadžić by attending an International Conference in Leuven. Before and after the conference, I had been regularly visiting the webpage of CHwB and finally contacted people of the office in order to involve myself in their activities as an intern for my MSc program.
By learning about the activities of CHwB, I distinguished the importance of involving local communities in the restoration of their own cultural property, especially in regions of the Balkan peninsula that present significant cultural similarities.
That’s why I will be involved in the design (and other) works related to the current activities in Gjirokastra and later take part in the survey of significant monuments in the provinces surrounding the town, such as two Byzantine churches of great historical and architectural importance: Kisha e Shën Mërisë e Labovës së Kryqit and Kisha e Shën Mërisë e Peshkopisë së Sipërme.
I think that Gjirokastra and the surrounding areas contain a significant amount of monuments of different eras and styles. Along with the Ottoman architecture, one can meet several reminders of the Byzantine period, namely churches dating even to early Christianity. All of these different remains complete the puzzle of a cultural and architectural palimpsest in the region of the stone city.
This heritage is an indispensable part of the region and constitutes a proof of the cultural richness of Gjirokastra. The presence, maintenance, and designation of the various layers of history are an indicator of culture and can also be the starting point of a sustainable and respectful tourist development.
Marcela Jaramillo Contreras (project collaborator)
I am from Bogotá, Colombia. I have more than 10 years of experience managing projects related with cultural heritage, including capacity building for the safeguarding and protection of cultural heritage, engaging communities with cultural heritage and World Heritage management at the national and international level. I have worked with Cultural Heritage Foundation (Korea), INTERSOS (Kenya), Heritage Institute (Ecuador) and ICCROM (Netherlands and Italy). I also have experience in managing the fundraising of cultural projects.
I have a graduate diploma in Cooperation and Development, International Affairs and a Masters in Political Science, and World Heritage and Cultural Projects (led by UNESCO).
Cultural Heritage without Borders—Albania is now well known in academic circles and among CSOs as a professional organization in the field of cultural heritage. Due to the experience in my country of more than 50 years of internal war, I have specialized in cultural heritage and armed conflict. In this sense, when I looked for information or I asked international experts about organizations that work in my professional interest topic, they mentioned CHwB. That is why I came here, to learn about your projects, and to get some clues to get stronger in this subject for my country, and of course in exchange, I hope to help in anything that CHwB delegates me.
During my three months of work, I will mainly support the project Balkan Cultural Aid Response for Emergencies (B-CARE), although I am eager also to participate in the community heritage engagement and ‘Dialogues for Spaç’ projects.
I am enjoying my time in Tirana. People look like Colombians. I love the cheese, bread, the thick yogurt, and the salads. Your country has beautiful mountains and excellent weather.
Everyone from the staff has been absolutely wonderful. They have tried to involve me in the team, and if I have a question, they always are very available to answer it.