Calmness in a Plane In-Between Nowhere

Why do you walk around with dark, deep-set eyes that look like they’ve gone to war and back?
I was told I didn’t have time to write to you short,
­So I am writing to you long,
And I wanted to ask,
What is this balloon of brick you’ve built around your chest that makes your breath lose track?


Are those the thoughts of yesterday you are trying to suffocate,
Or of a year’s past that you are trying to resuscitate?
Has creation gotten the best of you and now you need to meditate,
And are rhythmic exhalations to shut out blame not helping you medicate?
I was told I didn’t have time to write to you short,
So I am writing to you long,
And I wanted to ask,
Is the calmness of a plane in-between nowhere what you need, like whiskey in a flask?


A lullaby of soft-humming engines as you’re served, “coffee, or tea?”
Lights shut off mid-flight and eyes overlooking the ocean from a window seat?
An illusion of night and time held still,
Above the clouds, your worries: less real.
A suspended existence entirely in air,
Of soft-spoken, sleep-ridden strangers all in a one-night affair.
A silent mirage of non-intrusive background lights,
Spilling in from your neighbor’s screen of cinematic delights.
A location marked by neither here nor there,
Where they can’t catch you if they tried, so your mind feels bare.
An escapism you’ve ticketed,
Where you wake up less riveted.
And a delirium to recharge the mind,
Before you’ve quitted it.


Why do you inhale oxygen like your lungs are near a vacuumed collapse?
I was told I didn’t have time to write to you short,
­So I am writing to you long,
And I wanted to ask,
When your blood circulates, do your veins hyper-pulsate or do they stay intact?


I was told I didn’t have time to write to you short,
So I am writing to you long,
And I wanted to ask,
Is the calmness of a plane in-between nowhere what you need, or some whiskey in a flask?



Open Apology Letter to My Freshman Year Self

If I could heal you in retrospect, I would say:

I am sorry.

I am sorry I didn’t let you write and recite enough poetry thinking that it was unemployable.

I know every time you would reject a spoken verse invitation you would cry alone although you didn’t have to.


I am sorry I turned your deep chocolate brown waves of hair into thin strands of bleached hay that denied your origin whenever you looked in the mirror.

I still miss their fullness that is yet to recuperate when tying them up in a ponytail four years later.


I am sorry that I denied you sensation. That I punished you so deeply and exiled you whenever you fell short of perfection.

Although now I have a map, I wonder how I ever expected you to make it out of a labyrinth on fire without direction.


I am sorry, in skin-crawling embarrassment, that I treated you like a mechanized mule. Pulling the straps on your face tighter whenever tiredness would stop you from smiling.

I still pick at the stitches in my inner cheeks from years of metal hooks I left pierced around your jaw, as a reminder that smiling should come without trying.


I am sorry.


I am so sorry I convinced you to never believe anyone when they told you you were beautiful or adored you in silent distance.

I wish I could send you a postcard now stamped with, “accepting love is not a sign of weakness.”


I am sorry I equated your worth to subjectivities of educational and professional prying.

I would tell you, “You will achieve it all, and more–but breathe, because your inner world is dying.”


I am sorry I starved you, strained your muscles without nourishing them, and let your body grow weak.

I aimed for strength, but am still confused why I kept perverse power over your malnourished physique.


I am sorry I tried to peel you off in layers, and air you out like dry leather waiting to be manufactured.

I have now reclaimed the cloth of my skin, but beneath it I still see your half-torn ligaments and fractures.


I am sorry.


And if I could cry myself whole

As condolence to you

My tears would fill a second Nile.

For you were Egypt,

And I was your ruthless pharaoh.

Who forgot that the earth he walked,

(And which kept him alive­­)

And the fresh waters he drank,

(From your River bank)

And the pyramids he built

(On Giza without guilt)

Were all in virtue of you.


And, I­–

I sold you to Rome.






Iceland: No Clothes, No Shoes, No Sleep, No Problem.

It was a hazy evening in Boston as I launched down Terminal E to check in for my flight to Reykjavík boarding in less than two hours. This was the first time when I had not planned anything out for a trip besides the flights and where I would be sleeping.

I thought, “I’ll just land and then figure this extraterrestrial Island out ,” and thankfully it was that kind of calm optimism that became my survival guide for the time to come.

After arriving in Keflavik Int’l Airport at the awkward hour of 4.35 AM and standing sleep-deprived and expressionless for another 45 minutes next to the baggage carousel, it was with nihilist remorse that I realized my suitcase was not arriving anytime soon.

As I thought to myself, “If it is lost forever, I hope it at least falls in the hands of someone who appreciates winter apparel as much as I do and makes good use of my white-knitted sweaters,” the baggage claim officer gave me enough hope to raise my vein-ridden and dark-circle enclosed eyes in an attempt to smile and nod.

“It might have just not made it on the plane. Or maybe they sent it somewhere else. Haha. I think we may be able to find it and we have your report, but either way, don’t worry–shit happens.”

And that was the first out of the ensuing hundreds of times I would hear that unexpected but innocently humorous saying which seemed to be a favorite of the locals who, in most cases, not only spoke English to a T (which I thought would be the case), but could also school you on your grammar and were well-versed in Norwegian, Danish, and/or German in most cases.

Reykjavik Building Art
As I had grown comfortable with the luggage fatality of travel for the time being, I abandoned the sinking feeling of my current situation of being sweater-less in Iceland, and just became bewitched by how efficiency, rationality, and straightforward logic was intertwined in the way actions were generally carried.

From the organization and transportation of people at the airport arrivals, customs, the self-stacking security trays, and the city transfer buses (FlyBus) that dropped you in Downtown Reykjavík or at the doorstep of your hotel, everything functioned in a way that was quick and effective without the unfortunately familiar interjections or rotations that commercially accompany transportation or city living. These are the interjections and rotations usually intended to elongate relatively simple processes in order to make a few more bucks from people or increase private company profits. It was refreshing to navigate in a way where the norm was to work only with what was actually necessary, and everything else was an option you could choose to add. I was happy to see this general attitude follow me during the continuation of the journey.

Outside our Living Space, Preparing for Golden Circle

After settling in our room in Reykjavík and trying really hard not to wake up my friends and trip companions at a scandalously early hour of the morning (shoutout to Lira and Megi, my homegirls and fellow traveller extraordinaires who fill every moment with love and excitement), I had a citrus and ginger tea in the retro-esque 70s-style lobby before giving in and waking them up at a slightly less scandalously early hour of the morning.

Before even getting halfway through my “lost baggage” story, the girls bundled me up in enough of their own scarves/sweaters/boots that would have made my mother proud.

Before the Car Mishap

After a quick breakfast, the ambitious and easily-excited musketeers with an unquenchable compulsion to see and feel everything (too strong for our own good, really) set forth on their longest day in Iceland which we took the liberty to extend by 12 additional hours. In 36 hours, we toured the Golden Circle, got our car pulled out of the snow by a monster truck after we slid and got stuck by the side of the road in the middle of what we thought was nowhere, walked where tectonic plates marked the divergence of Europe and North America, and gazed at the northern lights in Westfjords.

Whether it was our accidentally construed and intensely condensed perception of time or obsessively thinking that opportunity to see everything would be otherwise lost if we did not maximize every minute in Iceland that made us go on a fast-paced and non-stop 36 trek on our first “day” of exploration, I am not sure, but here is how we did it…

The Golden Circle (which looks more like a diamond in aerial view) is the popular term for a 300km stretch of land deposited with several striking landmarks in a compressed location.


Gullfoss Waterfall

Trying Hard to Capture the Mood // Looking Ridiculous Instead

After spending a trance-inspiring hour at Bláskógabyggð, looking out at a seemingly neverending landscape of ice and sun, we were playing some light Enrique Iglesias in the car–early Enrique, that is, with hits like”Hero”- at the mark of noon on clear but tricky, long roads that had turned into an ice rink overnight (the night before we arrived, there was record-breaking snowfall in Iceland). Although we were all being attentive to the road, including our friend who was navigating, the stretches of ice that unexpectedly appeared and disappeared from pure nothingness were no match for our small, grey Suzuki which made a dizzy right and long slip off of the road, digging itself deep into the snow near Þingvellir National Park.

After exchanging a fast look of  “Did this actually just happen?” and “What now?” between ourselves, we were lucky enough to acquire the help of some locals who were kind enough to call a service truck from the next town over to dig us out.

The two locals stood there with us in pleasant conversation, reassuring us that this apparently happened all the time and not to worry because–wait for it– “SHIT HAPPENS.”

If the fact that the entire country is filled with miracles of geography and world wonders was not enough to convince you to see Iceland, this ‘go with the flow, fix it as you go’ attitude is contagious and most definitely will…

Just a Mishap Here and There

Inspecting Whether the Situation is Real // It’s Real
Such Sad // Much Stranded
Locals at Our Rescue

Savior Truck // Suzuki at Its Mercy


After watching our small Suzuki being pulled out of the snow by way of a tight rope attached to a monster truck approximately 6 times its size, we made our way (slowly) to several other destinations including Strokkur Geyser, a geothermal fountain geyser that erupts with water at temperatures of 80-90 degrees celsius (176-194 degrees fahrenheit) at point of eruption.

Iceland: You are here at your own risk.
Strokkur Geyser

Just before the sun began to set for the day, we made our way to Silfra, a rift created in the location where the tectonic plates of Europe and North America diverge. More than just a geographic point of relevance, Silfra was my favorite location of the day (considering that we also saw the Northern Lights later in the evening, too). Standing on and in front of this landmark felt like history in praxis, continental drift in action, and we were simply there to observe. I could not help but grow silent for a while just trying to fully appreciate and internalize it as a phenomenon that resonated an overwhelming feeling of impermanence of all and everything, and reminded you of the impermanent nature of all and everything as well.

It was one of the stops on the trip that I could not help but feel through every molecule, and that roused a stirred sensation of heat in my chest–the type of sensation one may feel when circling or sitting provocatively close to an open fire with healthy flames and intoxicating waves of dancing smoke that are and aren’t there.

Another reminder that everything is changeable, always. Earth does it all the time.

By the time we returned to our location in Reykjavík, the evening had comfortably settled on the compact and colorful city like the chilled white wine had in our make do glasses. As we were lounging in a common area having a quick bite and trying to exchange our pictures from the day, another pair of dwellers overheard us discussing which night would be the clearest, according to our in-app Aurora Forecast, to see the Northern Lights. Falling in good company with similar interests–as seemed to be the happy, everyday case in our usual interactions and surroundings–we all decided to pack up quickly and head 1.5 hours upwards to catch the lights, although against the advice of our app which forecasted blurry skies.

And, good thing we did, because we caught a wonderfully clear sky against all odds, on a night when heavy clouds and rain were anticipated. As we drove into a relatively empty area around 1.30-2.00am and saw the first glimpses of the Aurora Borealis from afar, we were already taken aback not because of the light’s theatrical manifestation as is often highlighted through magazines, photo journals, or online media, but because of how its massive beauty and grandeur came from nature’s simplicity. The spectacle of bouncing greens, purples, and blues was a reaction of the simple processes of nature.

In other words, nature was just doing its thing so effortlessly and rhythmically, and the Aurora Borealis was its by-product, a causal reflexion and result of its brewing elements. An amassment of chemical being and flow, of effortless grand creation, all of one, all of matter, as we all are.

(No pictures of the Aurora, too awestruck to do double exposure shots. Will try next time, but here is a link that does the wonder of light some justice in capture.)

It may sound second nature in hindsight, but it is quite different when it is seen and felt. It is humbling, and encouraging at the same time, being a reminder of how the greatest creations and wonders should best come from a steady state of flow. Of flow that is harmonious, of flow that is in line with your biology, and of a flow that is always happening and that you are just voluntarily taking part of. That is the kind of calmness and understanding that this trip has encouraged, building off of an already preliminary base of energy universality, meditation, and flow that I had begun to practice just a few short months before arriving in Reykjavík.

Besides finding most things being constructed on a solid base of straightforward logic and far-sightedness, and people on the whole being eager to help, exceptionally socially conscious and empathetic, and expressing a sense of shared responsibility towards social functionality, well-being, and success, Iceland has already shown an example of calm and practical existence that was not as appearant in my past travels, but which I am increasingly eager to dive into even more. (More on this on the next blogpost on societal and institutional attitudes in the Scandanavian Island).
PS In case you are still curious, I DID get my luggage back after the second day. It was a sweet reunion indeed ❤️🇮🇸

From Telegram and Gazette: “Clark student hopes to affect change through U.N.”

Article and below provided from The Telegram and Gazette.



Media Content Desktop Screenshot From Website

“Clark student hopes to affect change through U.N.”


WORCESTER – Dea Dodi is driven to change the world.

As a student adviser to the United Nations, she is inspiring others to work on changing policies in the nation’s capital as Donald Trump’s administration makes policy decisions.

Ms. Dodi, 21, is a Clark University senior from Somerville majoring in political science and international development. She came to the U.S. with her parents from Albania when she was 6 years old. When she graduates, Ms. Dodi said she wants to continue lobbying for change in Washington, D.C., and stay engaged in the U.N.

As an adviser to the United Nations and as youth delegate of Albania, last month at the U.N. Youth Forum held at the U.N. headquarters in New York City, she became the youngest delegate from Albania to deliver a statement and the only youth delegate at the forum from the Greater Boston area.

While attending Clark, she balances school and her work as a U.N. adviser, which usually requires some monthly travel.

As a U.N. adviser, she meets with different delegations and diplomats in the U.N., such as the International Law Commission. She reports on meetings, including the U.N. Economic and Social Council, and Security Council. She provides information and analysis on various topics.

Her involvement grew from persistence since the U.N. Mission does not often take interns.

“Anyone working for the Mission must be accepted and cleared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After getting in contact with the Mission, as a dual Albanian-American citizen, it all depended on the diplomatic staff’s consideration of my resume and background. After a review of my credentials and experience, I sent a letter of motivation and gave a short long-distance interview from Clark. Just a week after the spring semester (2016) ended, I hit the ground running in NYC at UN Headquarters,” she explained.

She said her experiences as a student in Worcester have prepared her to work for change during a new presidency and hopes her story inspires other young people in Worcester to get involved.

Having seen others go through hardship, Ms. Dodi said, including her middle class parents who left behind a “comfortable” life in Albania during political and economic turmoil in the country to resettle in the U.S., gave her a strong sense of community engagement. When she first started at Clark she became involved in the International Affairs Society and a model U.N. on campus.

As an immigrant from the Balkans where the new president’s wife, Melania, emigrated from, she said she sees Mr. Trump’s election as a result of an already broken system.

“Trump’s platform capitalized off of ignorance and fear,” she said.

“I felt that this radical shift corresponded to the fact that the people had become unbearably disenchanted with a disconnected government that had ignored their livelihood,” she said adding, “Trump channeled many of the fears and grievances” that people had.

She said it is a reason to be engaged.

With a strong sense of morality and justice, Ms. Dodi said she feels everyone has a responsibility to act for change and in respect of the full dignity of the existence and achievement of others.

The new presidency was a point of focus for her and others at the U.N. Youth Forum, she said.

“The general sentiment from the delegates was that it is time, more than ever, that we must take action to create the reality we wish for it to be for all us, not just for the betterment of the elite few who may be in charge,” Ms. Dodi said. “During the campaign period, I never focused on who this person was, aka Trump. I saw it as a result of a system in need of attention for a while. It was a manifestation of all that was broken in terms of our political scheme, education system and lack of knowledge.”

She said she sees herself as a young, critical voice working toward change, especially when it comes to the new president’s immigration policies.

“I see the new administration’s anti-immigrant measures as being not only paradoxical, but counter-intuitive to progress and self-destructive,” she said. “America is built by immigrants, and immigrants are its backbone and livelihood.”

She continued, “I definitely feel even more determined and empowered than ever to use the platform of youth, activism and legislation to really get the voice of the people heard.”

Srini Sitaraman, Ms. Dodi’s political science adviser and associate professor at Clark, said Ms. Dodi is heavily involved with the Model U.N. group on campus and represented Clark at several conferences at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Boston universities, receiving awards for her participation.

It is critical that young people take an active role, not just in youth issues, but in global issues, Mr. Sitaraman said, with the “rightward shift in global politics, nativism, racism, isolationism, and increase in global inequality and terrorism, religious fundamentalism, shrinking economic pie, climate change and its diverse impact on different parts of the world.”

“With enormous political changes sweeping across the world it is critical that such organizations (U.N.) and forums highlight the global challenges such as jobs, education, climate change, and prospects for a peaceful world in the near future,” he said. “(I am) very hopeful that she will go on to do great things in the future and be actively engaged in international diplomacy and foreign policy.”

Ms. Dodi said she is focused on long-term results.

“Major defining characteristics for achievement are strength and determination and the courage to keep creating even when you may not see results in the near distance. Sometimes you get lost and tired from the work, but it is important to relate it to the impact it will have on family and friends and community. That can be motivating – at least it can be for me,” she said.”


From Kosova Press: “​Prania historike e delegateve shqiptare në Forumin Rinor të OKB-së

Article Courtesy of


“Studentja shqiptare që jeton në Shtetet e Bashkuara të Amerikës, Dea Dodi është duke shërbyer tek Misioni i Përhershëm i Shqipërisë ne OKB, njëherit është edhe delegatja e Shqipërisë për Rininë në OKB.

Suksese të ngjashëm ka arrit edhe Hana Sahatqija nga Kosova, e cila punon pranë UNICEF-it në Kosovë.

Dy vajzat shqiptare, kanë marrë pjesë në Forumin Rinor të Këshillit Ekonomik dhe Social të OKB-së, ku të pranishëm ishin edhe ministra, ambasadorë dhe delegatë nga gjithë bota.

E veçanta e kësaj pjesëmarrje ishte, se për herë të parë kanë marrë pjesë të rinjtë shqiptar në këtë forum, ku edhe kanë mbajtur fjalë për rininë shqiptare dhe nënvizuan mundësitë e rinisë për të arriturat dhe pengesat që mund të jenë duke i përjetuar./KosovaPress/ ”





From Gazeta Tema: “‘Forumi Rinor i OKB,” Shqipëria dhe Kosova për herë të parë me dy deklarata të njëpasnjëshme”

Article Courtesy of

“Në datat 30 dhe 31 Janar 2017, në selinë e OKB-së, në New York, është mbajtur “Forumi Rinor i Këshillit Ekonomik dhe Social,” një forum i përvitshëm, i cili ka në qendër problemet me të cilat rinia përballet dhe se si kjo e fundit mund të bëhet pjesë e përpjekjeve për arritje më të mëdha, të shoqërive përkatëse.


Pjesëmarrës në forum, kanë qenë ministra, ambasadorë dhe delegatë të rinj, të përzgjedhur nga e gjithë bota, për të përfaqësuar vendet e tyre përkatese. Gjatë këtij forumi, Shqipëria u përfaqësua nga delegatja Dea Dodi, e cila gjatë fjalës së saj u shpreh se, shumica e të rinjve shqiptarë janë aktivë në platformat sociale, duke tërhequr vëmendjen e shoqërisë civile, si edhe mbështetës, të cilët besojnë se përpjekjet e tyre janë resultative. “Megjithatë, ata qëndrojnë tejet të izoluar nga sfera e OKB-së. Me fjalë të tjera, ndonëse ata mund të kenë një impakt dhe ndihmë direkte, ata mbeten jashtë radarëve,” u shpreh Dodi.

Sipas saj, është e nevojshme që OKB të ofrojë platforma më gjithëpërfshirëse, për të rritur mbështetjen ndaj veprimtarive të grupeve rinore, që ndërkaq janë aktive dhe kanë potencialin për të bërë ndryshime transformuese.

Në forum, ka marrë pjesë edhe Kosova, ndonëse jo si shtet, pasi ende nuk njihet në OKB. Por, ashtu si çdo vit, kur ajo përfaqësohet nga organizata, të cilat aktualisht veprojnë në Kosovë, këtë herë ajo u përfaqësua ng Hana Sahatqija, e cila punon për “UNICEF.” Sahatqija, gjithashtu i është drejtuar forumit me një deklaratë.

Në fakt, është hera e parë që Shqipëria dhe Kosova i drejtohen Forumit Ndërkombëtar Rinor me dy deklarata të njëpasnjëshme, ndërsa është vënë theksi tek dëshira për të shfrytëzuar këtë platformë për të ndihmuar të tjerë të rinj shqiptarë, qoftë në këtë drejtim, apo edhe në rrugët e tyre specifike profesionale. /Bjorn Runa”



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Statement on Poverty Eradication and SDG 8: Albania, ECOSOC Youth Forum

Original statement is presented as a condensed version in consideration of the limited time for the interactive panel dialogue.

Both, video link and statement, are available below. Statement begins at 1:22:33.

Screen Shot 2017-02-01 at 10.54.38 AM.png

(Click Link in Picture Above for Video)

Statement full:

“Thank you to the Chairman for the recognition


Albania would like to thank his Excellency the Secretary General for his continued commitment to the youth and youth works, a commitment that was also encouragingly echoed in his message yesterday.

We also congratulate the several countries present here on their sound efforts to inspire effective youth involvement at the regional and global level.


My question pertains to opportunity of involvement for the youth as it relates to the eradication of cyclical poverty.


Having enacted the National Action Plan for Youth in 2015, Albania has been determined to implement a strategic and detailed plan on youth development that focuses on youth promotion and participation in democratic processes and decision making, youth employment, health, sport and environment, youth education, social protection, as well as culture and voluntarism.


That being said, approximately one quarter of the Albanian population belongs to an age range group between 15-29 years of age, which designates the country as having one of the youngest populations in Europe.

That is one quarter of the population that will contribute to the long term development of the country and the region.

One quarter of the population whose talents and efforts will definitively determine the success of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.


In a shared front of achievement with other young people around the world and harboring an extensive potential for growth, our youth are ready to participate in platforms and opportunities that promote socioeconomic independence as well as technological advancement. Specifically, pertaining to employment opportunity and the encouragement of a culture of deep-rooted meritocracy–both of which are aspects that directly relate to SDG goal number 8 on Decent Work and Economic Growth.


But, however eager the youth at large may be to create and innovate, in Albania and elsewhere, there are a few thematic bridges missing that can exponentially assist in translating their ambitions into material reality if constructed: that is experience.


Often times, opportunities of growth or employment require that an individual already have presentable experience. Considering the issue through a global perspective also discussed in the recent breakout sessions on poverty eradication and employment, there are currently 71 million young people who are unemployed. But to gather at least an initial base of involvement–so millions more can also have a fair chance– we ask for your help and support.


How will the youth be able to gather experience, if they are not given a chance to gather an initial experience…

I think the cyclical process that develops is apparent here.

Therefore, this is an open call to increase receptiveness of capable and talented young people in different fields of opportunity.


Because we want to learn from you, and hope that you will teach through example.

Often times we don’t ask for much to begin with either, and we even come prepared with our own computers if possible…


During the continuation of the forum, amidst the new ideas and incentives being thought of and composed, we kindly ask that you keep a few notions and questions in consideration.


The first being the extension of opportunity to an eager and talented youth. And the second being to recognize, in practical terms and in accordance with the availability and use of technology, how will we, as a global community plan on achieving SDG goal number eight in a way that is amicable, inclusive, and empowering for young people?”


Statement abbreviated:


“Thank you to the Chairman for the recognition


Albania would like to thank His Excellency the Secretary General for his continued commitment to the youth and youth works, a commitment that was also encouragingly echoed in his message yesterday.


We also congratulate the several countries present here on their sound efforts to inspire effective youth involvement at the regional and global level.


My question pertains to opportunity of involvement for the youth as it relates to the eradication of cyclical poverty.


Having enacted the National Action Plan for Youth in 2015, Albania has been determined to implement a strategic and detailed plan on youth development that focuses on youth promotion and participation in democratic processes and decision making, youth employment, health, sport and environment, youth education, social protection, as well as culture and voluntarism.


That being said, approximately one quarter of the Albanian population belongs to an age range group between 15-29 years of age, which designates the country as having one of the youngest populations in Europe.


In Albania, as in other countries, many young people are active on large social platforms that also attract attention and focus from civil society as well as supporters who believe that their efforts are worth sponsoring. Much of the work these youth groups engage in, when looked at through an analytical and comparative lens, relates directly to the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly goal number 8 on Decent Work and Economic Growth. Yet, they exist largely removed from the on-ground UN sphere. In other words, although they can be directly helpful and impactful, they remain off the radar.


How can the UN offer its platform more extensively to stitch the gaps of association and support for action with already active youth groups that have the potential for transformative change, and encourage opportunities of training or employment to talented youth in need of experiences?”