Friday, November 25, 2011


Two years ago, I started poking around (again) on the Peace Corps website over the Thanksgiving holidays. I started my application sometime that week. I spent last Thanksgiving at the dentist, having cavities filled as part of the medical exam for my Peace Corps application. I didn't even eat dinner that night because my mouth was too numb from the Novocaine to manage something as complicated as chewing. This Thanksgiving, I'm a Peace Corps Volunteer, and it's easy to be thankful.

I'm thankful that the long, frustrating application is over and that it I'm finally a PCV. I'm thankful that I'm in Morocco, with all its crazy charm. I'm thankful that I spent my Thanksgiving evening at my Dar Shabab, making awkward conversation in broken Darija with my mudir and then watching a Moroccan scout meeting, which involved a lot more singing than I imagine goes on at American scout meetings. I'm thankful that I ate chickpeas seasoned with salt and cumin that I bought from a roadside stall as part of my Thanksgiving dinner, and I'm thankful that I have Internet so I could Skype home after dinner and talk with my parents. I'm thankful for everyone I've met in Morocco: my government-appointed family, my two host families and all of the wonderful Moroccans who have gone out of their way to welcome me to their country.

I'm thankful I am getting to embark on this crazy, two year Moroccan adventure, and while things are still a bit lonely and difficult right now, I'm thankful for the opportunity to get to stick around and make this home.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


September 2011 YD Staj
Lyum, hna mutatwi3in m3a Hay'at Ssalam.
Today, we are Peace Corp Volunteers.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Site Annoucements

Site announcements were last Wednesday! Most of PST is spent at our CBT sites, but every few weeks, the entire staj comes back to Fes for a few days of group sessions, and this trip Peace Corps announced the permanent sites we’ll spend the next two years living in, i.e. the one thing I’ve been dying to know since I first got my invitation.

On Wednesday, the day of the announcements, Peace Corps drug the process out, and we spent all morning in sessions that no one paid any attention to because we all just wanted to know where our sites were. After lunch (which was half an hour late *insert face clawing*) we had yet another session with Abdelghani, the Youth Development program manager, introducing the regional managers, their duties and the regional system (a new introduction to Peace Corps Morocco) and other probably important things that I didn’t really pay attention to because I just wanted to know where I was going to be living. *insert more face clawing*

After the session, we were divided into our regional groups, which was a cruel tease because know we knew the general area we would be living in and who our neighbors would be, but still didn’t know our site, our home for the next two years, and we still had to sit through another ten minutes of talking. After region announcements, the groups met separately and our regional manager gave everyone a folder with the name of our site, a form about our new host family and a couple of pages of information about our the town. (People who are replacing or joining a current volunteer got a site journal written by the PCV, but since I’m the first volunteer in my site in a while, I got a generic form filled out by Peace Corps staff.)

My immediate thoughts were along the lines of OMG, I’m so excited, I can’t wait to see it, I love this place and am invested in its well-being ALREADY, must Google immediately, followed by Wait, Sra-what? I don’t even know how to say that! and Hmm, so I wonder where this is? It was a surreal moment.

My home for the next two years is Kelaat Sraghna (I can still only somewhat say that), a city about an hour and a half north of Marrakesh. Kelaat, or Qlaat or El Kalaa des Sraghna (there seems to be some confusion about the proper name and spelling) is big, about 65,000 people, and the economy mainly revolves around olive agriculture. There’s a high school, two Dar Šabab (youth centers where YD volunteers work), a sports center and a Marjan (think Wal-Mart, only nice and with an entire aisle devoted to cheese). I have a sitemate, Lucia, from my staj who I like a lot and think will be great to work with, there’s a Environment volunteer named Lena who lives 40 minutes away and Kelly, my current CBT sitemate and Peace Corps twin, is only an hour away. Kelaat is at the base of the High Atlas Mountains, just a couple of hours from the beach and close enough to Marrakesh’s transportation options that I’ll be able to travel easily. It sounds like an amazing town and I can’t wait to get there!