Inside the book: can any of you read it? 😉

Virgjil Kule worked for many years in Albanian Television as a journalist, speaker and director, preparing and narrating numerous shows and documentaries. In addition to this, he also wrote a book on Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu, a 15th-century Albanian nobleman and hero. I’ve known about Skënderbeu ever since I was little, as my family would tell me many stories of the great things he did for Albania. (Fun fact: when I was in grade 4, I competed in a national speech competition in which I spoke about Albania, including information on Skënderbeu, and came home with 1st place 🙂 )

With the help of the Albanian-Canadian Community Association, Virgjil Kule held a book promotion on Friday, June 20th. The president of the Albanian-Canadian Association, Dr. Ruki Kondaj planned the event. Dr. Ruki Kondaj has been of great support to me during this journey, and I cannot thank her enough for this. Not only did she attend my Free The Children Fundraiser Gala on June 1st, but she invited me as a guest for this event. I was very honored to make an appearance as Miss Teenage GTA 2014 amongst my fellow Albanians 🙂

The evening was held at a lovely banquet hall that was prepared with lined chairs and a stage up front. The room was decorated with both the Albanian and the Canadian flags, honoring our pride for both of these countries. We began the night by standing for the national Albanian and Canadian anthems. I take great pride in the fact that I am of Albanian background and can still call Canada my home. It makes me feel very diverse as a person. Following the anthems, we had a few presenters give short speeches relating to the novel; they gave their opinions and thoughts about it, all positive of course.

Caught Zerina for a photo before she left!

Zerina Derveni, a delegate for the Miss Universe Canada 2014 pageant, was also a guest at this event. She gave a speech during the beginning portion of the event, as she was boarding a flight to New York City that same night for the Albanian Parade being held there the following day. Before she left, I had the chance to speak with her about her experience at Miss Universe Canada, which she said was wonderful and very rewarding. Who knows- maybe I’ll compete in that pageant someday! The speeches closed with Virgjil Kule himself taking the stage and telling us of how he got started on writing the book, and his knowledge and passion with Albanian history. I learned a lot more about the book, and all the research and planning that went into writing it. I also learned more about the history of Skënderbeu. It was really refreshing 🙂

Me on stage giving my speech

After that, we had a short intermission to eat the served dinner, and were back in the hall for part 2 of the event- the concert! As a guest, I had the opportunity to give a speech myself, so I opened the concert by introducing myself, telling the crowd about my title and the journey towards the Miss Teenage Canada 2014 pageant. I loved the support I got from the crowd! Next, I introduced the performances (I got to practice my Albanian-speaking skills here 😉 ). There were poems, dancers and singers, all showing the Albanian culture and tradition! The dancers, who were part of an Albanian dancing group that consisted of young girls aged 8-17, wore traditional Albanian clothing, which I have always found so beautiful!

Lovely Albanian dancing and cultural clothing!

I had so much fun during the concert, and was surprisingly overwhelmed at the response I got that night, especially from the little girls! Everyone wanted to know more about me and my pageant, and the girls even asked if they could try on my crown so they could be like me! For over an hour, people were waiting in line just to take a picture with me! I was so flattered! As these little girls looked up to me, I really did feel like a role model, and truly realized what a difference I can make with my title (and even a greater difference if I win the title of Miss Teenage Canada 2014).

Thank you for the support!

With the dancers!

Posing with Virgjil Kule and his book!

All in all, I had a great time at this event, met many people, and even made some friends! It was a wonderful event that brought the Albanian-Canadian community together, honouring Virgjil Kule on his book. Thank you to Ilir Lena, from Pasqyra Shiptare, who filmed the event, which will be aired on the show 🙂 Thank you to once again to Ruki Kondaj for inviting and honouring me as a guest giving me so much support. I hope to make both Albania and Canada proud during the national pageant next month!

xoxo, Odeta

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