Eni Dervishi ’17 has always been intrigued by language. “When I was in kindergarten, a teacher taught us how to say ‘chair’ and ‘table’ in English,” she recalled. “I found it fascinating that you could use two different words for [one] object.”
In her small Albanian town, language instruction was limited. But Eni was determined to learn. She heard that a neighbor knew more English than a few simple words. “I’d go knocking on his door, asking him to teach me. … [Eventually] his wife took pity on me,” Dervishi said. When an older friend began studying Italian, Dervishi tagged along, and soon she added French, traveling to the capital Tirana for books. German, Spanish, and a little Portuguese — picked up watching television soap operas — followed. And, finally, her relative isolation turned to a benefit. Because her hometown, Pogradec, is on Lake Ohrid, a tourist attraction, she was able to practice her languages with international visitors.
A window opened for Dervishi. “I fell in love with languages,” she said. “Through languages I was able to see a different world. It opened my imagination to what was out there.”