Sunday, May 23, 2010
Monday, May 3, 2010
First I would like to thank you so much for providing such great resources and support through this training period. It has been a time of intense learning of the language, culture, and has given me time to ponder on what service will actually be like. I regretfully inform you that I do not want to go through with becoming a volunteer. It isn’t one specific thing that sent me to want to leave, more like a series of things. Generally, I just don’t feel like this is something that I should be doing with my life at this point in time. It is something that I would love to pursue later on in life, enchalla. I have discovered so much from my experience being here thus far, but I am ready to share my experiences with everyone back home.
I feel as if I am going down a personal path that I do not want to go down. I do not want to become bitter about the world, and I find myself becoming that way. I know that my experience is within my control and that it is very much what I make it. However, I find that much of my personal life philosophies are at odds with many of the cultural norms here. I know that we are supposed to be “agents of change”, but this is not the change that I wanted to be at odds with when I joined. Though they may seem like small problems now, I know that they would affect my service in a big way. I know that these small problems with everyday life would grow and amplify into something that I would have great trouble trying to overcome.
I know that I have let so many people down Peace Corps staff and volunteers, many people in the states, and even myself. This has not been an easy conclusion for me to come to, and I am sorry to have wasted so much time and resources on getting me to be here. I am in such gratitude for getting this brief, but nonetheless, life altering experience. I know that I did not even come close to fully enjoying the Peace Corps experience, but I still feel extremely fortunate for having been through this small part.
I know this may seem lame, as I was so excited not too long ago about starting service, I have come to realize that this is not the country for me. This was not a brash or easy decision, but one I had to think hard about. I know that it is disappointing to hear, but I have to think of my own happiness and well being.
I wish you all the best and I should be back in the States by the weekend sometime? Crazy.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
This last week was such a whirlwind! Oh my goodness!
Our CBT went to the local elementary school to help teach about Earth Day and to do some fun activities with the kids. This was a three day long event, about an hour and a half each day. Each day we got a new…ish group of kids, anywhere form 60-75 each day. Now, when there are 7 instructors, this would be easy, but since 6 of us only speak broken Tamazight (the Language… referred to as Tam), it was really like there was only 1 teacher. Things got a little chaotic. But I think overall the kids had SOOO much fun, it was good to see them getting excited about learning and the environment. DAY ONE we made a song in Tam and sung it to them, and then we all sung it again together. It was about helping to save the environment and working together… a good song J After that we played some environment games that I had learned when I taught at outdoor school. Then we drew some pictures of the environment. DAY TWO we mad a skit about a woodsman who chopped down all the trees for firewood, then all the animals left. We then gave the kids different situations that were environmental based, which they did a short skit on. After that we planted six trees on their school grounds. We wanted to do more, but the Principal said that it would be hard to water too many more trees. It’s good to keep in mind the sustainability of these projects after things are donated. DAY THREE it was mural time! We had them paint two murals on their walls at school. One was of a field and flowers, on the larger wall, it turned out a little chaotic, but pretty adorable. The other wall turned out really well, it was of a field and mountains in the background and a river… a typical Moroccan sight. It was so much fun to work in the school! It was kinda stressful because I didn’t know how to convey to them most instructions.
Overall it was a tiring week. This next week I find out my final sight placement (where I will be for the next two years) and I get to stay a whole week there with my host family! This will be some time to really practice how much I know my language and to really experience some awkward moments, one after another.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Last week, I was able to go with Fatima, Siham, and Abdlhadi (my host sister and brother) to go see Fatima’s mother and father, who lives up in the mountains an hour and a half away. It was I tried to spend as much time away from my notebook and see if I could rely on my wits, and I did and okay job. There were several brothers who were still living at home with the parents, because they were teenagers, and one new couple with a son that is also around Abdlhadi’s age. It was the funniest thing to watch them play together. The town was gorgeous and the drive over was SOOOOO cool. I think it would be so interesting to go see it with a geologist (hint hint uncle Garrett!) so I can know what the heck was going on. I got to see the Monkey hands as they are described, look em up.
This week was a little bit relaxed in terms of motivation; our LCF noticed and had a little disappointment chat with us. It was a little aggravating, but I am glad that he did it. Our group has split into the three people that are struggling with many of the concepts and then the three of us that are ready to move on to the next thing. I try to realize how far we have come in a month and a half of training and I am really surprised at my and the other people’s ability to communicate. I didn’t think that we would pick it up this fast.
Two girls in the group and I decided to go see the gorge for our days off. It was an hour and half taxi ride. It has been so nice to get out for our days off. We were able to wander all over the souq and go see the gorge! YAY! It reminded me so much of Zion Canyon in Southern Utah. So “gorge-ous”!
I have had some questions about what I wear. I am more conservative in what I wear than some of the Peace Corps girls. I will typically wear jeans, T-shirt, a scarf, and a sweater that is long enough that it hangs over my butt. I also wear dresses that are short and I pair it with jeans. I have been just wearing my clothes from America, but I might buy a couple of dresses during my time here.
Hope everyone is doing oh so wonderful wherever you may be!
Thursday, April 1, 2010
To my dearest family, friends, and other anonymous blog readers:
It has been a pretty tame week. More language lessons galore and becoming more involved in the community. There is a really awesome women’s center here. They have sewing machines, embroidery classes, women’s literacy classes, various plays and other events to get people in the area aware of how women are treated in the area and Morocco, and more recently all us PSTs have taught English and a “sport” class. The sport class is mostly some yoga stretches and abs, but it is nice to be a little active. The women that run the center are very motivated and fun people, it has been good to see a functioning women’s center and to have these contacts, because, more than likely I will be starting one in my final site, or at least I hope to!
Last Sunday, I helped Fatima, my host mom, make some stuffed bread and do a bit of laundry. I also swept out my room did a bit of organizing, I needed it. We had some guests over; I think it was one of my Mohammad’s sisters. I ended up having three sets of afternoon tea in a row because we had various guests over, I was so full. I also invited some class mates over to watch Zombieland, which was fun to hang out and just chill with everyone outside the classroom.
I have a new invigoration for the language. This past week was a bit of a plateau week, and I didn’t feel much like studying outside the 7 hours of class a day. The LCF noticed that most of us students have started to plateau, so he gave us some good words of encouragement, along with a whole list of words to memorize, and I feel like I am back on the track for learning way to much for my own good! YAY!
Being at the hub site: Basically it is a time to debrief and hear about everyone’s time out at their CBT site. It is good to see all the other PCTs and to see how the training is going for them. Each site has pros and cons. I feel very fortunate to have a site with running water, electricity, an active women’s center, and a family that is really nice and also understands me getting my personal space (a concept that is mostly lost in morocco), oh yes, and a lush green riverside fields that are amazing for taking walks on. One of the other sites has plumbing, but the water has been out for the past month, so the PCTs have been using irrigation water to bucket bathe in, if they are lucky enough. Another site has a women’s center, but no electricity to the site so the center is unable to use the computers and sewing machines that have been donated. One PCT has had as she describes “pack of women” waiting for her to finish school and they ask her questions and such. Now, I sometimes feel frustrated when it is two or three women that are talking to me and I don’t know what is going on, and I don’t want to imagine what it would be like to have that many women waiting for you.
Well that is all for now, keep in touch and let me know if there is something specific you would like to hear about and I will try my little darndest to touch on the subject.
Pictures to come soon to my facebook… the internet connection is slow so it takes a little while to upload them, sorry J.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Bonjour! as all the little kids say as I or any of my classmates walk down the street.
What a whirlwind the past couple of weeks have been! Oh my goodness. So I have started to learn Tamazight and have been staying with a host family for the past couple of weeks. It has been so enjoyable. But before I get into that let me explain CBT. CBT is a two month long (in some other countries it’s up to 3 months) crash course in whatever language you will be learning and using for the rest of your service. This is a time where I and 5 other people get a better grip on what we might encounter in our service, and provides a great atmosphere for us to make mistakes and cultural faux pas, without it having to affect the integrity of our service. Everyone gets a host family in their CBT site and in my group it is quite a mix. I have a family that is fairly young, a host sister who is 5 and a host brother who is a little past 1. The mother is about 30 and the father a little older than that. I also have a grandmother who lives in the same house, but she is not out and about all the time. Mohamed’s (host father) sister also lives with us. I have my own bedroom and we also have an evil cat that eats bread and hides under the table during meal times. It is a really happy, loving, and hard working family. It has been so wonderful to have the kids around; I am still trying to master the basic commands. My sister LOVES the crayons that I gave her, and I will draw pictures for her to color in. I am wishing I would have remembered to bring those gosh darn coloring books. Oh well. I have also discovered that my host mother does not read, which I thought was interesting. Each one of us PCT (Peace Corps Trainees) has a different family dynamic and its cool to see and compare the different aspects of Moroccan culture.
OK story time… also some cultural stuff I have noticed:
- We flooded my LCF’s (language teacher) house. The classroom for us is upstairs and the kitchen and bathroom and stuff are downstairs. One day the water wasn’t working, so somebody accidentally left it running in the kitchen. Well, as it turns out the drain was plugged, so when the water came back on it went over the sink… Good thing the floor is cement.
- I got henna done on my hands, along with all of the other girls in my class! We went over to Roxy’s (classmate) house, had amazing lunch, then all these ladies came over and we got henna done all over our hands! The design was cool, and its defiantly something I want to do again and again. While our henna was drying, which they made us do for at least an hour, we got fed some bread. We are such princesses!
- I saw the “Mama’s little shortening” song dubbed over in darija (Arabic), it made me laugh something fierce. My family was slightly confused.
- They watch kind of a lot of TV here and LOVE their soaps! My host aunt likes to watch the English movie channel sometimes, so I was also able to watch part of Robocop 3, in case you were wondering, the part I saw was awful.
- I made a paragraph yesterday in Tamazight describing my typical day. It was so cool! I feel like I am starting to get somewhat of a grip on the language! HORRA!
- This last Sunday all of us when over to Heather’s house, and her host mother made us the biggest meal ever! So all of the meals are communal eating. It was so filling that we all went on a walk for a little bit then came back and ate some more. During the final course of couscous (seeksu) we were all so full and so we were just sitting there trying to let it all digest, and then Heather’s host mom hands me something. I instinctively hold my hand out, but then I realize I think it’s food. I look at it, and ask her what it is. It was an ear. I looked around and tried my best to not look nastied out, but I don’t think it worked. I laughed and said that I was really full. She took it back and it was no big deal. Soon after this Heather’s host sister got out some outfits and makeup and we played dress up. There was a bunch of ladies there and they were having a blast dressing us all up. It was fun, but I was so tired.
- I was walking home one day after school, and there was a bunch of kids out, I think school just finished, so I was saying “ssalam” to one of them and then almost biffed it hard core, but luckily I saved myself. Close call.
- I am tall, I have hit my head quite a number of times, and thank goodness it has been nothing serious. It gets worse when I get tired.
- Mustaches are really popular.
- They might be paired with a semi mullet. Such a hot combo.
- So the gender boundaries are really divided. Men are usually the ones that are out on the street with little to do. They hang out at the cafes or the little foosball arcade room things. Its typically 80% guys out when I am walking home from school, and the women that I do see are typically going somewhere. Just something I have noticed.
There is so much more, but alas, there is not enough time to explain it all.
I hope this keeps you for a little bit.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Here is what I have written as of a couple days ago:
We took a bus from Casablanca to the Ouarzazate province, going over the Atlas Mountains. For some security purposes I cannot disclose where our exact location is... The scenery reminded me a lot of Southern Utah and northern Arizona, but with snow caped mountains further off in the distance. The roads were fairly windy and we were riding in a big tour bus, two people from our tour bus and one person from the other got sick, not too bad for such a narrow windy road.
Everybody here is really awesome; it’s so great to meet all these people who are very qualified and amazing stories of traveling the world. I feel humbled to be in such an amazing group of people. Most of us are slightly nerdy but we also are very social and fairly good communicators, so far as I have noticed. We have taken a somewhat “crash course” in the Moroccan Arabic, it was a half hour to an hour long. It consisted of numbers, saying hello, my name is, and a few other basic phrases. It seems like everybody is eager to start to learn the language, most of us have started to use the small amount of phrases we do know every time we can. Most the people I talked to did not study the Arabic lessons that we got beforehand, but there are many people who speak French. We also had some meetings about safety and security here in Morocco. It seems like much of the stuff that we could be victims of could be prevented by our own actions.
So far all the hotels we have stayed at and all the meals we have eaten have been fantastic. I am a big fan of the mint tea, which is a popular drink here. We have stayed at hotels with running water and sit down toilets, I think the Peace Corps is trying to ease us into this whole life real nice and easy. I think the jetlag is starting to wear off… But I am not completely sure. I still need to catch up on sleep from barely sleeping during the plane ride.
NOW, now, not then:
I am going to be learning Tamazight and I have found out my sight location for the CBT (community based training), but again I cannot disclose the exact location, if you would like to know it, email. In my CBT sight for the next two months there are six of us that will be staying in a place with running water, electricity, and also there are two internet cafes, or Cybers. This is really exciting, I think I will have to too easy ;) there are other people who will be living without these luxuries. I also bought a cell phone yesterday, if you would like the number email me. I think it will be good to ease my way into the culture.... I guess that is how I am rationalizing it. I am super excited to start all this fun funness! I have a really great CBT group and an awesome teacher. So far no diarrhea and everything has been peachy keen! Wishing everybody is having a blast in the states!