Who Started Albanian Voices?
Përshëndetje! I am the project director of Albanian Voices. My name is Ashley Elizabeth Wood and I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. I am an independent teacher, tutor and writer. I have many diverse interests, but I mostly focus on writing and teaching about languages, cultures and music. On this page, you’ll find a short bio about me and all the links to my various endeavors. Contact me with any questions and thanks for stopping by!
My passion is the study and documentation of cultures and languages. I studied International Affairs and Modern Languages for my undergraduate degree at Georgia Tech. A few years later, I studied Hispanic Linguistics for my master’s degree at Georgia State University. I began, but decided not to complete, my Ph.D. in Romance Linguistics at the University of Georgia. I have taught Spanish either at the college level or privately since 2006.
My main focus lately is the study of the Albanian language and the culture that it encompasses, which goes far beyond the borders of Albania itself. I believe that allowing Albanians to tell their stories in their own words will engage readers and create a more global interest in this overlooked, yet exceptional corner of Europe. This is why I intend to uncover what is unknown Albania. In 2012, I left my Ph.D. program in linguistics because it no longer coincided with the growing interests that comprised my greatest passion: the documentation and explanation of foreign culture to Anglophones (aka: English speakers). In my academic work, especially in courses that I took towards my doctoral degree, I learned about the psychological origins of prejudice, which allowed me to better understand xenophobia (intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries). I repeatedly observed the ability to mitigate cultural intolerance by presenting the foreign culture’s actions to the culturally intolerant in a relatable way. In order to do that, I knew I needed to spend more time integrating myself culturally with people rather than scientifically studying the languages they speak. Although my academic background does not directly relate to research in the Balkans, my cultural and personal background does.
In the summer of 2012, my life changed unexpectedly when a group of Albanians prevented drug traffickers from abducting me in the Dominican Republic, risking their lives in order to save mine. I was so inspired by the people, their culture and their language that I suspended my studies in Spanish and formal linguistics in order to study Albania full time. I began using traditional and social media to promote a story-collection initiative called “Albanian Voices” (formerly “Project Albanian Voices”) In less than one year, my project, website and blogs have received global attention.I have traveled in the U.S. and Canada to interview Albanians about their experiences with immigration, communism, civil war, family history, traditions and customs. I have also made valuable political contacts within the Albanian community in Detroit who have sponsored me during this initial phase of the project. I currently manage a small team of designers, photographers, researchers and cultural experts who consult with me on topics relating to Albania so we can add content to our social media accounts and websites on a regular basis. You can find out more about this project below by simply clicking on the icons below:
My background in linguistics naturally attracted me to the study of language. English is my native language; however I speak Spanish just as comfortably – we use at home. I am also at ease speaking German, Albanian and French at an intermediate level. With the aid of a dictionary, I can fluently read and write Russian, Portuguese, Italian and Latin, as well as the above-mentioned languages. In total, I have varying degrees of experience with nine languages. I love writing about language and especially the music that accompanies its culture, so that’s why I started a blog called MusiCulture & Language to talk about all my favorite topics related to those three things. Click on the icons below to learn more.
I now teach Spanish online and in person in Atlanta, Georgia. I can also help students with general motivation and self esteem building as well as study skills. In addition to Spanish, I have experience teaching private lessons English, German, accent reduction in English, and subjects related to history and politics. It’s all on my teaching and tutoring website where I teach as Profesora Madera (Get it? Madera means Wood in Spanish :-)). You can also follow me on Twitter by clicking the icon below.