| Steve Cook, PhD
Mary Alice Seville
Marash Rakaj, PhD
Contact us at: email@example.com
||The Albanian Alps Institute came slowly into being as a result of
Steve Cook's work helping Albanian school children. Steve first traveled to Albania in
1992 as an "enlightened tourist" and found a post-Communist country that
was barely avoiding chaos. It was on this first trip that he met Marash Rakaj,
now AAI's In-Country Representative. Steve returned in 1993 to lead trekkers
through the rugged Malesia e Madhe (Great Mountains) region of northern Albania.
What they encountered were incredibly hospitable people living in dire circumstances.
In 1994 Steve returned to conduct research in Boga, one of the villages in the Shkrel
School District. In 1995 he conducted more village research, and in 1996, with a Fulbright
grant he taught at Universiteti i Shkodres in Shkoder.
During the 1990s, Steve helped several Albanian university students, as
well as personally sponsored two high school students to study in the
United States. Both have received university degrees in the US.
In the Winter of 2001, Steve returned to Boga, with the seeds of AAI in
mind, consulted with Marash Rakaj (AAI Albanian Manager) on
how to contribute to education in the impoverished villages of the
Malesia e Madhe. The outcome of these conversations was the delineation
of the five programs that AAI has decided to concentrate on: School
Libraries; School Supplies; English Language classes; School repairs;
and Scholarships for promising students, especially girls to go out of the mountains to
high school (see our projects for more
information). He also hired an English teacher in Boga, and purchased
the textbooks for the classes.
Note from the President:
It's been over ten years since AAI began working to improve the education for students in Shkrel.
We've invested over $150,000 into these marvelous students and they've responded accordingly.
Kids are reading books, swinging on swingsets, using computers and dreaming
of a future unimaginable to them or their parents before AAI. One of the
biggest successes is that girls are now attending high school and two of our female scholarship
recipients are currently enrolled in universities - one in Albania and one in the U.S.--