Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Questions I have so far been asked about Morocco and the Peace Corps:

MoroccoMorocco? Where's that?

Morocco is in North Africa. It's south across the Straits of Gibraltar from Spain, west of Algeria and north of Western Sahara/Mauritania (Western Sahara is a non-self-governing territory that is under control of Morocco, so while the southern border is technically Western Sahara, the de facto border is with Mauritania). Morocco has an Atlantic and Mediterranean coast. The capital is Rabat and major cities you might have heard of include Fes and Casablanca.

So, not Monaco?

No, not Monaco. It is a monarchy, though.

Oh really? Tell me more.

Morocco is a constitutional monarchy. The current king is Mohammed VI.

Um, Mohammed? Does that mean...

Yes, Morocco is an Islamic country. Culturally it's more Middle Eastern than it is African. It is, however, more tolerant than many Islamic countries. No one wears burkas and I'll even be able to wear pants. I'm actually really excited about moving to a Muslim country. Part of the reason I'm joining the Peace Corps is to experience a new culture and while I know very little about Islam, I'm looking forwards to learning about it.

What language will you speak?

The official languages are Standard Arabic and Tamazight (a Berber language), but Darija (Moroccan Arabic) is the most common native language. I'll be learning Darija. As a result of French colonization, French is widely used, especially amongst the upper class.

Can you speak any of those languages?

Nope, not yet, but I'm excited about learning. I've ordered a book of Moroccan Arabic, so hopefully I won't be completely lost when I get there.

When are you leaving?

I leave on September 12th. Eighty-four days to go!

How long will you be gone?

Peace Corps service is twenty seven months: three months of training and two years of service.

Where will you be living?

Um, in Morocco. I won't find out where my site is until the end of training.

Tell us more about this training?

First, there is a day or two of training in the US (called staging) where I'll fill out paperwork, meeting my group, get any vaccinations I need and officially be sworn in as a Peace Corps trainee. Then I'll fly to Morocco and have three months of training in language, culture and my assignment. During the time I'll be living with a host family.

Tell me more about this assignment. What will you be doing during your two years in Morocco?

I'm a Youth Development volunteer, which means I'll primarily be working at a youth center (Dar Chabab) teaching English, which I'll use as a springboard to organize activities and clubs outside of the classroom. There's also an emphasis on girls' education and empowerment. I think this is going to be an awesome assignment for me, based on my prior experience and interests.

Won't you tell us more about the application process?

Ahahaha, I'm working on it. (Okay, no one has actually asked me that. I'm just going to tell anyways. I HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS!)

Isn't Morocco super nice? Won't you basically be living on a resort?

No, not so much. Like most developing nations, Morocco has a vastly uneven distribution of wealth, so while there is luxury and money in Morocco, especially along the coasts, most of the country lives a far more impoverished lifestyles. However, since Youth Development volunteers are posted in urban areas, I will mostly likely have electricity and running water at least part of the time.

Friday, June 3, 2011


TestySo, there's this cardinal that lives at my parent's house. This is not a bird over endowed with brains, and he is convinced that his reflection in the windows of the house is a rival bird. Whenever he sees himself in the window, the bird (nicknamed Testy, short for Testosterone) repeatedly flings himself into the offending reflection in a testosterone fueled attempt to become the alpha cardinal in the area. From sunrise to sunset, the house echos with the thoinks! of the cardinal ricocheting off the house and the swears of my dad threatening to go outside and backhand the thing with a tennis racquet. It's particularly bad in the kitchen and my parents bedroom (both are surrounded by trees and shrubs for him to perch on while contemplating an attack), and my parents have had to drape the windows of their bedroom with sheets and towels in an attempt to hid the reflections, lest Testy wake them up at sunrise by headbutting the house. It looks like someone ineffectually tried to mummify the house.

This has been going on for a month and Dad has cracked. He came into the living room today with a gun in one hand and murder in his eyes. I'm praying for poor aim, but I think Testy's days might be numbered.