As a child in her home country of Albania, Hueda Kapri preferred watching news rather than cartoons.
“I always had a big desire for justice,” she says.
That desire led the 20-year-old international student to University of Oregon in 2011, to pursue a degree in international studies with a focus in diplomacy and international relations. This summer, she will take what she has learned back home to Albania as she undertakes an internship with the Peace Corps in which she will be helping to train new Peace Corps staff.
Kapri knows the social and economic issues of her country very well. She became involved at an early age with an organization called “Me the Woman,” that works to stop violence against women – which she describes as a prevalent problem in Albania. She has also assisted the disabled in Albania, entertaining them with poems and drama.
“Even if you do something small, it gives them happiness,” she says.
At 17, Kapri organized people to provide clothes and books to the Roma population of Albania, whom she describes as having far less access to employment and education than ethnic Albanians.
The idea of freely helping to better the community is not widely practiced in her home country. Most Albanians, she says, don’t believe in volunteer work, but she always thought differently.
“It’s one of the best things you can do for the community and for encouraging other people to offer to the community,” she says.
Kapri’s record of service to the community was one of the factors that earned her a prestigious scholarship from the International Cultural Service Program, which enabled her to travel to the U.S. to study. The scholarship requires recipients to act as cultural ambassadors of their countries by giving 80 hours of presentations each year to the local community.
During her time at UO, she has met other scholarship recipients from more than 60 countries and says the experience of working with them and people in the community has been “life changing.”
In addition to giving presentations and taking classes at UO, Kapri has worked at the American English Institute as translator/office assistant – experience that she says has proven invaluable in providing her with communication and language skills in a professional work setting.
When asked whether, given the choice again, she would choose the University of Oregon, she responds, “Absolutely yes!”
Kapri says she has learned more about American culture, improved her English skills, and visited many different places – not to mention the many lasting relationships she has formed with Americans and people from all over the world.
Kapri is excited that her Peace Corps internship will provide additional life-changing experience and the chance to help the people of her country, but it comes at the price of an international plane ticket that she must cover.
Anyone wishing to learn more of Kapri's life story can visit her blog online.
- by Paul Keats, UO American English Institute