Lauren in Morocco

This Blog has no direct association with the Peace Corps.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Monday, May 22, 2006

Swearing In Ceremony

Today we had our swearing-in ceremony and we are finally volunteers. You have to go through 2 1/2 months of training to swear-in and we just completed our training. We have been in a really large, extremely modern city and have been able to swim in the hotel pool and have a little free time. There were a few of us with the highest scores in language and we just decided to draw names out of the four of us and my name wasn't drawn out of the hat so I didn't get to give the speech. I am however, the Gender and Development Representative for our staging group. There is one elected each time a group swears in, so there are 6 in-country that represent about 150 volunteers. I will be able to travel to Rabat three or 4 times a year to work on gender camps and have meetings with administration and maybe the US ambassador. I will also work with the other 5 volunteers to create GLOW camps (girls leading our world or guys.) I leave for my site tomorrow, wish me luck.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

This is a picture of the first day we ever played soccer in Morocco, I am one of two girls on the field and I think we attracted half the crowd. I say this only because we are American and normally women do not play soccer. Since this day I've played soccer everyday that I've been in Azilal and the locals always play with us. I am amazed because normally the few girls that play are picked for teams before the American boys. The Moroccan's are obviously all amazing at soccer when we all play together and I can hardly keep up, one day...One day.
Rabat when we first arrived in Morocco (these pictures are obviously not appearing in my Blog in any sort of order, but I've just started uploading them.) Rabat is obviously an extremely large city and being a health volunteer I only work in extremely rural areas, although on vacation I will revisit Rabat and we have mid-term Medical exams in the city.
A Moroccan roof-top, this a place of great importance for Moroccan women because much of the laundry and down-time is spent on the roof.
View of Casablanca from the Plane window (over two months ago, this picture if obviously also out of order.)

This week I have my final LPI (language exam) and next week I swear in as a volunteer. Our group has not yet had one person ET and hopefully this trend will continue, inshallah (which translates to God-willing.) I can't really say more about previous groups that are in country, but I will mention the information in an email. Our swear-in site is in an undisclosed location in the desert, so I have to prepare myself for the heat this week. I just had my final day with my first host family in CBT and I have to say that I had an amazing time at my CBT site. My host family was amazing and I know that they have little, but they would always give me so much. I've noticed and mentioned to another volunteer, how little materialism there is, because of the lack of "things." In the more rural areas there is very little money, the average income of a Moroccan in any rural area is less than 3 dollars a day and 70% of Morccans live in rural areas. My family always cooked the most amazing food and tried to teach me something new everyday. We did actually have a TV and I was able to watch Middle Eastern Music videos. This doesn't seem important, but the videos were something that we could all understand and having two host sisters that are around my age, we always enjoyed the videos. During our final CBT I was able to give my host family a few gifts and I gave them candy from staging in Philadelphia and a tea set from Morocco. My host-family is so amazing because I expected nothing from them, because they have given me so much already and then they gave me an amazing gift. They gave me Moroccan slippers (they told me many times that I had axator feet, axator being big, so I guess they knew the size) and a wall decoration for my new house made of Barley. I mention the feet thing, only because, for some reason every Moroccan in my town is extremely small and I always tower over them. They also always try to give me slippers to wear when I enter the house and my size 10 1/2 foot only fits into half of any shoe ever given to me. My family told me they bought the largest pair they could find at the Market (haha) and I really appreciate their kindness. Our CBT group of five hosted a party for everyone in town yesterday and we had a vast array of cookies and cake. Tea is always served and the women taught us their dance moves, we were fortunate because we have one male in are group and sometimes women will not dance around men, but they all seem to view B.E as just a brother. A male in another CBT group was asked to leave the room during the party and he said he felt that he missed out, because being able to see the women interact so freely is a huge cross-cultural lesson.

Monday, May 08, 2006

What I've learned about the Peace Corps....Thus far.

I've only been in Morocco 2 month's and during this time period, I've learned a vast amount of things about the Peace Corps and Morocco. I've learned to never except anything because the Peace Corps is only a series of surprises. I've learned that while in Morocco you can be in one region where it is snowing and travel 6 hours and be in the desert. I've learned to never except your travel plans to work out or be extremely comfortable/safe. This is because you normally have to wait on a grand taxi until you have 6 people to fill up the taxi or you take a bus around the mountains and you feel as if the brakes will fail at any moment. I've learned that you will re-evaluate your definition of beauty over and over again, because you see all the layers of beauty in another country. You will never be clean or look put together in the "bled," but you realize that you don't care because you haven't seen a mirror in a month. You learn that donkeys can be an amazing form of transportation if you live in a small down. You realize that the landscape can be anything from extremely beautiful to extremely barren.
I've learned to eat solely with my hands, I've learned how to not overeat couscous, I've learned to drink 17 glasses of tea a day, and yes I've learned to cook bread. I've learned that for some reason everyone at my site thinks that the best well water has fish in it..? I've learned that no matter how well I did at language in comparison to others in my group, that some woman in the bled will always tell me I know nothing. Therefore I've learned how confident I really am and how your confidence plays a major role in your success as a volunteer. I've learned that it is possible to find an amazing friend in a language you don't even speak, because I have many Moroccan friends and my language is only now developing. I've learned the power of women in this society and the power of the woman in the household. I've learned that, like any country, there are going to be a variety of cultures, beliefs, personalities, and practices. There are people who are incredibly welcoming and those who are not, just as in America. I've learned how to properly make a well and how to find water sources in remote areas of Morocco. I've learned that I actually don't value electricity and I'm actually disappointed I have it in my site. A final note~ Congratulations to all of my friends that graduated this weekend and good luck.