protection of Albanian independence. After a long period of self imposed isolationism, this appreciation was revived at the end of the last century due to U.S. involvement in the Balkan Wars of the 1990s and it continues today thanks to the support from the United States for Albania's 2009 entrance into N.A.T.O. and our ongoing recognition of Kosovo as an independent nation. (The population of Kosovo is approximately 93% Albanian and a very nationalistic vibe permeates the entire region). Throughout the country, and the region, it is common to see the American flag waving alongside Albania's red and black flag. Because of this level of adoration, it really is easy to get lulled into a false sense of security. But we must not let this happen.
We see daily reminders that the United States is not revered throughout the world and in many countries being American diplomats can be a very dangerous proposition. Last Friday's explosion at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey and September's attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, drives this point home. Although Sana'a, Cairo, and Damascus are in the forefront of our recent memories, these attacks on American Embassies and American ideals are not something new. We only have to look to the 1998 coordinated bombings of the Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, the 1983 attack in Beirut that killed 63 Embassy employees or even Ben Affleck's 2012 bio-pic Argo which portrayed the 1979 hostage situation in Tehran. Clearly, there is a large segment of the world that does not like us.
So how do we keep ourselves safe or is it even possible to do so? I feel that safety is a relative term with everyone having a different interpretation of what is and isn't safe. However, I for one, refuse to live in fear of what might happen. The best part of living overseas is getting out and exploring our surroundings. To not get out and see the world would mean missing out on many of life's great adventures. And it would also mean letting the "bad guys" win. I for one, refuse to let that happen. So where do I personally go from here? Just as I can't assume everything and every place is safe, I can't assume it isn't. I am reminded that I need to remain alert and aware of my surroundings at all times. If I do so I can continue to get out and explore my world.