By Tim, Volunteer (Staj 101)
As I write this, I am sitting in a café that was once filled with moments of laughter between myself and my wonderful CBT group. We met here regularly for meetings, and always remarked how nice it was. I am drinking orange juice, as I would every time we met. Together, we established ourselves in this community, and worked to create a program centered around the needs and wants of our students. The girls usually drank cappuccinos, but our LCF always ordered a black coffee with half of the normal amount of sugar. I have vivid memories of him walking in, still groggy from his afternoon nap, and conversations about our host families and what we ate for lunch. Now, I am drinking orange juice. It tastes sweet, but it may never taste quite as good as when accompanied by friends and loved ones.
Newly sworn-in PCV Maryem Aslam spoke to her fellow trainees at the Volunteer Swearing-In Ceremony on November 27, 2019. Here is her speech:
Good morning, friends, family, guests, and Peace Corps community. Staj 101, remember that day when we arrived in Morocco? We were feeling so many emotions: excitement, confusion, slight anxiety, and happiness.
Orientation was a whirlwind of learning names, starting Darija sessions, long walks on the beach and short talks with new friends. Before CBT groups were announced, people made the effort to build connections with different people.
Meeting host families and settling in to CBT sites helped us focus on practicing the little Darija that we learned only a few days prior. My host family does not speak English. I was determined to learn Darija so I could communicate with my Moroccan family and get to know them better.
Newly sworn-in PCV Yanitza Roman spoke to her fellow trainees at the Volunteer Swearing-In Ceremony on November 27, 2019. Here is her speech:
Everything happens for a reason. We are here, in this room for what we believe is one purpose, but we may end up discovering that life had other reasons. Somehow all of our timelines have overlapped here in Morocco, at this time, and for this we are incredibly fortunate. In such a short time, you all have come to mean so much to me- if anyone had told me I would feel so strongly about a group of people only after 2 ½ months, I would have replied "wash bs7a?" (really?) We've all made such a difficult decision to move to another country, learn (or more like try) to speak Darija, and be fully immersed in a new culture. But we've also gained so much, from learning how to bargain- "ghali bezzaff 3lia. Ana mutaTawaya." (too expensive for me. I'm a volunteer) to being able to travel on our own- "dini Fez, bab boujloud 3afak" (take me to Fez, Bab boujloud, please) we literally have gained skills to survive in Morocco as well as gaining whole new families that cared for us and treated us as one of their own. I know that majority of the time "7na ma kanfahmu walu" (we don't understand anything) but just think, by the end of the next 2 years, maybe we won't have to keep asking "kifash kangolo lhadi b darija?" Inshallah. (How do you say this in Darija? Hopefully.)
By Volunteer Casey (Staj 100)
Staj 101 is here and because my final site is a training site, staff from Headquarters are roaming in and out of my places of work and two training groups have jumped off the deep end and are fully engaged in the awful work/life balance that is PST. And while I’m excited to work with them and get to know them, I find myself in a bittersweet mood because their arrival means your imminent departure, and I’m not quite ready for that.
You were there when we got off the plane. You were our online mentors before that but we didn’t know your faces. When we saw you at the airport we didn’t know who you were or why you were there taking pictures of us in hour 30 of our travel but then again I didn’t know who I was sitting next to on the plane/bus/dinner table. You were there at the hotel the next morning when we were bright eyed and sleep-deprived and asked you what the same 7 questions over and over again. You were at the first trainings, at training sites, at clusters and hubs, and when we set off to our final sites, you went with us (or met us along the way). Thank you.
جمعية بسمة: قصة لروح مجتمع شباب مغاربة
Written By (كاتبة): PCV Adriana Curto
Translated By (مترجم): Ismail Fatihi
A year and a half ago, a few girls and I were working on a project to celebrate International Women’s Day, 2018. We were walking around the high school interviewing students to create a mini-documentary about women’s roles in society & in Morocco. Shaimaa and her charismatic personality lead the interviews. As I was re-watching the clips, there was a rather in-depth interview response given by a boy named Hamid. Who was this Hamid?
Six months ago, the foreign screeches of ten sewing machines began humming in a rural Moroccan village in the Middle Atlas Mountains. Amongst a cedar forest and fruit orchards, the echoes of the machines sounded more like rusty old diesel engines, 26-year-old Peace Corps Volunteer Audrey Huetteman recalls.
Forty women had enrolled in a six-month sewing training program with uncertain hopes of learning a new technical skill that could potentially lead to job opportunities. The women were nervous-excited, Audrey says. Daunted by the six months ahead.
Whether you have questions about what to bring or what daily life might look like at site, the answer is probably here!
There is also a lot of great information under For Applicants & Future Trainees and For Americans!
1) Packing Advice
Where can we find packing lists?
By Jamie, Volunteer (Staj 100)
“Why am I doing this?” I think again as I’m peddling with all my might into a dry, desert headwind with a slightly flat front tire and an empty stomach from Ramadan fasting.
I bike two miles four-days-a-week from my town to the local Dar Talib and Dar Taliba where kids from duars off the main road attend in my area. These dormitories sit next to the lycee, college and 9ida (administration building), and there is a constant traffic of bikes, school vans, and walkers hiking up and down this trek.
At first, I hated the ride. The way there is mostly uphill, drari constantly yell “Bonjour” in my face like it’s a challenge, and students sharing the road leer at me as I pass. I constantly stress that my knee-length dresses are riding up over my leggings and wonder if my butt is too provocative for my site’s standards. I can’t enjoy taking in the lustrous date forest adjacent to my twirling wheels, or marvel over the crumbling kasbahs peppering the black and white highway. Sometimes the social taboos are just too overpowering to take in the beautiful uniqueness of my home.
By Jacob, Volunteer (Staj 100)
I had just gotten home from my region’s book club when Said called me,
“Come over to my house so we can talk about next week.”
“I don’t know where your house is.”
“Just ask, tell people you’re looking for where Said the barber lives.”
By Audrey, Volunteer (Staj 99)
I had spent all day scurrying around my village’s new Women’s Sewing Educational Training Center assisting the women with their sewing problems such as replacing broken needles, helping remove sewing thread that had been jammed in the bobbin case, changing presser feet, running around handing out scissors, paper, zippers, needles, and fabric, helping with basic sewing, and encouraging them. I was pooped! Women commonly ask me over to their homes at the end of the day to gossip and have tea. No offense to them, but after such a busy day, that was the last thing I wanted to do. I needed some solitude, so I made a beeline to my house, grabbed my headphones, put on an audio of Michelle Obama’s book “Becoming”, and started walking though the farm fields.