Mary Alice Seville
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.
Things have changed so much in the ensuing time. In 2024 village populations have declined, schools have been consolidated, but there are still many impoverished families living in Northern Albania. The need to educate students has not gone away.
In 2022 AAI expanded its operational area to include the schools in Kelmend. We now serve Boge (kindergarten only), Dedaj (twelve year), Vrith (9 year), Bratosh (9 year), Tamare (12 year), Selce (9 year), and Vukel (9 year).
Note from the President:
In 2003 AAI began working to improve the education of students in Shkrel. Now students in both Shkrel and Kelmend are now reading our books, swinging on our swing sets, dreaming of a future unimaginable to them or their parents before AAI. We are excited as, at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, we have expanded our area of involvement to include schools in Kelmend, which includes the villages of Tamare, Vukel, and Selce.We are most proud that girls are now attending high school from "our" villages. And many of these girls have gone on to university and received bachelor and in some cases master degrees. It is humbling to have a thirty-year-old married woman come to me as one did last summer and say “Steve, you changed my life.” I had argued with her father many times seeking to send her to high school. Finally he capitulated, we sent her to high school, then for a bachelor degree and finally for a master degree in finance. She would have not have gone to high school without the AAI financial support.
When Professor Doctor Marash Rakaj (University of Shkoder), my wife Terri and I started this organization we said it would be for the long term. We decided that operating for ten years would be a success. It’s now been over thirty years and due to our hard work, singular focus on education and our generous donors we are still improving education in Northern Albania.
-- Steve Cook