Generation Z – The Generation of Change (Parkland Mass Shooting)

We have had yet another mass shooting. It’s insane that we have so many and so often.

The process is pretty cyclical, as demonstrated by this post that has floated around the internet since the Parkland Fl mass shooting (even though it’s from 11-6-2017):

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I have noticed something different this time though. We are hearing from a new group of people: Generation Z. The 12-20 year old age group who gun violence has affected personally because it is their schools that are getting shot up and their peers are the ones who are dying.

I am really impressed that they are leading the way in society also retiring the ever ineffective “thoughts and prayers” mentality that most people of power who can change things, but don’t, often use as a way to help. Get the fuck out of here with that!

Here is my shout out to this group for raising their voices, and starting to incite change that the older generations just aren’t getting. Included in this video is also a bit of a tangent. I am good for those. It’s my blog/vlog, so I can do as I please.

Stop Posting Bullshit Articles/Information

It’s been a few minutes since I have written anything.

In that time however, I have been on the internet and social media. It is mind-blowing to me that in the Information Age, people are still posting unchecked information and spreading around information that is not true.

Please fucking stop. I made a YouTube video because I was too annoying to write about it and I thought a video would be better.

Why I Stopped Taking Adderall

I stopped talking Adderall a few months ago, but I wanted to share this video on my blog.

My Promotion to Guncle

I’ve been wanting to work on my blog for while but had a bit of a writing spell recently. Or, if I’m being totally honest, I was just being incredibly lazy and not taking advantage of the inspiring muses all around me.

I’ve also been super busy between work and babysitting my almost 7 month old nephew, Lucas.

Just a quick back story for you: My twin sister Valbona and her fiancé Nick had my nephew in May of 2017. For our family, he’s the first nephew/grandson born. To say that we all just melt over my nephew is an understatement. As a brand new uncle, I’m a mess!

Current day: I’m fortunate enough to get to babysit my nephew almost every Friday and some weekends. I’ve been doing this since a few weeks after he was born.

This child, my heart, my light, has had such an amazing and deep impact on me. From when we first found out my sister was pregnant to now, something in me has changed. I’ve always loved children, but this kind of love that I have for my nephew is a new experience! Anytime I hear his sweet voice making sounds or screaming, or anytime he drools on me or grabs my face/beard, I just melt into a puddle.

My favorite part though, and the part that wraps me around his precious finger, is when he just looks/stares at me and gives me a huge and happy smile. There is literally no wrong that Lucas can do in my eyes.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Being part of his village, and knowing that I’ll have a partial influence on who Lucas grows up to be, is having a very deep and profound impact on me. This isn’t like a part-time babysitting job where I watch a kid for a while and then off he goes. We will be in each others’ lives. I know that I will have a part in shaping who he becomes as an adult, intentionally or not. This makes me really self reflect on who I am as a person and to make sure that I am doing the right things so that I am a positive role model in his life.

Not only am I an uncle to that sweet hellion, but I also happen to be his gay uncle. His guncle. Being a guncle is a very huge deal and it slightly varies from the uncle title. Part of my (self-appointed) role in his life is to teach him about the beauty in diversity and practicing inclusion. That being different is magical and to help create a world where people can just be who they are. I am grateful for the experiences I have had in my life and that I will be able to use them and share them to the children in my life. I’m also determined to be the rich uncle in the family! Ha!

There is another unique advantage of being a guncle (but this isn’t limited to us). As a gay man, I don’t think I’ll ever have children (biological or adopted). Who knows where life will take me, but that’s where I’m at right now. I’ve always said that I’d love the children of my siblings like they were my own. I even surprised myself at just how much I meant that! There is nothing I enjoy more than being in the same orbit as my nephew. It is exciting that I can just be myself from the very start of his life until I leave this world.

Some people don’t understand why I’m so involved in my nephew’s life. This is a close as I’m going to get to raising children, so I’m definitely going to maximize my time. I’ve got a huge amount of love to give and this makes me so happy!

I’ve been called many things before and have held many titles, but none as important as guncle! I call this a promotion because I am better today than I was before becoming an uncle.

Being Gay in Kosovo (Video)

 

Hello friends!

Happy Gay Pride in Pristina, Kosova! Today is the first annual Gay Pride in the country’s capital, and I am so excited about this!

As a gay Kosovar Albanian man, this is a huge deal! Several years ago I wrote a blog post to share my own experiences coming out as gay. I did that so I could share with people what is often unspoken about in our community, and more importantly, to possibly help others to let them know they are not alone. You can check that out here: http://rebelbeard.com/gay-shqiptar-what/

I created this video to share my support and experience and to also give some visibility around life in Kosovo as a gay person:

Check out this post that I had also shared chronicling some stories of what other gay people have experienced while living in Kosova as an LGBT person: http://rebelbeard.com/gay-life-in-kosovo/

I am so happy and so proud that Kosova is moving forward in such a progressive way and starting to lift the veil around LGBT people. I think this will start to humanize us to those who have vilified us as monsters that go against being Albanian or that bring shame to our families.

We are Albanian like you. We are human beings like you. We are your sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and even mothers and fathers.

<3 <3

 

Europe Trip #4: Kosova

Europe Trip #3

Europe Trip #2: Waking Up in Rome

Trip to Europe: #1

I have decided to share my upcoming trip to Europe with my friends. I will be heading to Italy, Kosovo, and Albania over the next three weeks.

 

How to Learn a New Language

Pershendetje! (Hello in Albanian)

Have you ever wanted to learn another language? Have you been turned off at the thought of learning a new language? Maybe it’s too hard or too time consuming? Maybe the language is confusing?

I call bullshit on those excuses! Learning a new language is totally doable, and I am going to show you how! Remember, you already learned at least one language as a child. You can also learn a new language as an adult.

Speaking more than one language is amazing! It’s been proven that speaking two or more language has a very positive impact on the human brain. Being able to speak another language actually increases the grey matter in your brain and also allows you to think differently than those who only speak one language. As a bilingual or multilingual brain, you are able to problem solve more quickly as well as switch between tasks with more ease. This is because speaking more than one language teaches you to “switch” between languages when necessary.

The actual learning of a new language also engages many parts of the brain that other cognitive learning does not. There are even studies that show that learning a new language can stave off diseases like Alzheimers for several years. Why? Because you are actively using  both sides of your brain. Your brain is exercising and staying fit!

In a multicultural country like the United States, or for those of you looking to travel abroad, being able to speak another language is a huge win! Have you ever been abroad and found it a bit disheartening that you can’t speak the same language as everyone else? I know I felt like that when I first went to Italy and Germany. I felt like I missed out a bit.

Your resume would also stand out to future employers if they say you are able to speak multiple languages. Think of the audience you could reach if you were in a client facing role? With science showing the positive impact speaking different languages has, this would make you stand out as top talent!

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You are probably wondering: What does this guy know about learning new languages?

Well, I was born in the US, but I was born to non-English speaking parents who mainly spoke Albanian. Naturally, my twin sister and I (first born children) started speaking Albanian as our first language. My parents also spoke Serbian (which very common for Albanians). They had tried speaking Serbian when they didn’t want my sister and I to understand then. My mother told me that I had started to speak Serbian words so that did not work out very well for her. This was because as children, our brains are much more “elastic” so learning a new language is so much easier. We are almost like sponges!

My twin sister and I started pre-K and did not know a lick of English. We had to take ESL (English as a Second Language) so that we could learn English to speak with our peers and teachers. We were in ESL for a lot of elementary school. At that point, we had been so immersed in the English language that we picked up and were fine.

After that, I took a couple of years of Spanish in high school. I was an A student. Spanish was easy for me because I understand the structure of the language because some of it was like Albanian. For instance, in both Spanish and Albanian, the adjectives are placed after the noun. So a “big house” in English is a “house big” in Spanish and Albanian.

Just a couple of years ago, I took a German class in school and learned some basic German. Again, my brain was able to grasp the language with the help of having another language in my mind. I was a B+ student here. I had just bought a house and was redoing the kitchen, is I couldn’t focus as much as I wanted.

With that experience, I am going to share with you what worked for me, what didn’t work, and what I could have done better for more success.

  1. Be passionate about the language you want to learn. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to learn this language?” You have to be motivated to learn a new language. Your “why” has to be your rock throughout the learning process, especially when it gets tough. Keeping it relevant to yourself will keep you dedicated to learning.
    • I took German because I fell in love with the German language and the country/culture of Germany.
    • I am relearning Albanian because it is my culture and a large part of who I am today.
  2. Sign up for classes in your community, or use free apps/sites like DuoLingo. Local community centers or churches of different nationalities sometimes offer classes in their language. DuoLingo works just like Rosetta Stone, but is entirely free and offers a multitude of languages.
    • I personally recommend DuoLingo because it follows the different learning styles that a person would need to learn a new language. You are able to read, type, and even speak your target language. After some time has passed, DuoLingo will let you know that you need to revisit certain vocabulary to strengthen your memory and skills.
  3. Become immersed in your desired language! Learning a language is more than just learning and speaking new words. It is about reading, writing, understanding grammar, and being able to express yourself.
    • Start reading websites or newspapers in your target language. With just learning some words, you will be able to pick up the context of the article you are reading while learning the language.
    • Listen to online radio stations in your target language.
    • Watch TV shows in your target language. Do not use subtitles as they will confuse your learning brain.
    • Start writing in your target language. Use vocabulary that you are currently learning or have learned.
    • If possible, travel to the country of the language you are learning, or find local community happenings for that culture.
  4. Practice, practice, practice! This is the most CRUCIAL step of the process! In order to successfully speak a new language, you have to practice speaking it! Remember, you are teaching your mouth to make new sounds that it is not used to, and you are rewiring your brain to be able to recall and apply these new words/conjugations/forms. Practicing is what will make you successful! Practice full conversations while you are by yourself in the shower or car.
    • I was an A student in Spanish because I focused on reading and writing. I did not practice like I should have, so I was only able to (and still can) read and write in Spanish but I can’t properly speak it like I should.
    • My understanding of Albanian is really good, but growing up I became accustomed to listening to my parents speak Albanian while responding in English. Now my pronunciation of words could be a lot better. I am working on this.
  5. Find a partner. Having someone to practice with will make this process so much better/easier! Use this partner to write email/letters in your target language. Meet with this person regularly to have conversations in your target language as well. If both your native languages are English, you will find that it will be easy to switch to English when you don’t know what to say. Do NOT do that! Ask each other in your language how to say something in that language.
    • I used to use the expression “How does one say _____ in ______?” When learning German, I would say “Wie sagt man “car” auf Deutsch?” if I forgot how to say car. That would be my way of asking my partner without switching to English.
    • My mother is going to be my partner for relearning and practicing Albanian.
    • Meetup is a great way to meet people who are also learning the same language you are. Groups normally meet from once a week to once a month. It is a great way to make new friends while practicing.
  6. Stay consistent! Continue practicing the language in all aspects every day! You will find it will get easier the more you do it. If you stop learning/practicing the language, you will forget what you have learned and will set yourself back a great deal! The expression “If you don’t use it, you lose it” applies here 100%. Your brain will actually start to lose the awesome grey matter that was created when learning the language. This is going to be the key to continued success and learning. You will make mistakes along the way. You will mispronounce words. You will forget words or conjugations completely in mid sentence. You will use the wrong form. It’s all okay! That is how you learn! Be comfortable with being uncomfortable, don’t quit, and you will be fluently speaking a new language before you know it!

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Some specific things to avoid or be aware of are:

  1. Memorization drills. Learning a new language is not just a memorization game. All you will be able to do is recall the word. That is not the same as applying the word in conversation.
  2. Learning multiple languages at the same time when starting out. This works for children because their brains are able to absorb everything easier. As adults, you will just confuse yourself if you try to learn multiple languages, no matter how similar or different they are.
  3. Many languages have different dialects. When learning a new language, you will most likely learning the “standard” or “official” version of the language. Focus on the main language. You can adapt to the other dialects later.
  4. Language apps. Do not become solely reliant on these to learn a language fluently. They are a tool in the process, not a means. The other steps above will help you become successful.
  5. Using English. As mentioned above, do not switch over to English when practicing a new language. Using English while learning a new language is going to confuse you and your first instinct will always be to lean on that.

There is a certain beauty in speaking another language. You are part of something that you weren’t before. A culture. A country. A mindset. The doors of communication that you open to people whom you couldn’t otherwise communicate with may also open many opportunities for success, new experiences, friendship, or even love.

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These are all tips that I am following for myself as well. Please let me know how these tips work out for you and/or any questions you may have!

Viel gluck! (Good luck in German)