"No human, nor any living thing, survives long under the eternal sky. The most beautiful women, the most learned men, even Mohammed, who heard Allah's voice, all did wither and die. All is temporary. The sky outlives everything. Even suffering." - Bowa Johar, Balti poet.

29 October 2010

I Finally Got Inked In Morocco!



It finally happened! I got my Morocco tattoo! Every country that I have lived in I have gotten a tattoo or has a cultural heritage symbolism for me. One in Italy while study abroad in the summer 2005. A Croatian tattoo in honor of my heritage and the close bond I have with my wonderful sister, and now I have the khmissa, the Moroccan version of the hand of Katima. It is beautiful. I took over two hours and it was the most painful tattoo to date, but it was worth it :)
I do not have a photo of it totally healed, but above is my tattoo artist, Ziki, showing off his talents on my upper back. SHUKRAN SIDI!

World Map Done!



With the money that my mother's church donated towards my dar chabab to denefit the kids that come to the building, I used their money to buy the supplies needed to create this world map. My wonderful mudir, Khalid, donated the canvas and white paint from his studio (yes, he is an artist! awesome) to put towards making this map.
It took a couple weeks and some very dedicated Moroccan youth, landlord, and site-mate, the map is now done!
Enjoy the photos and I want to thank my mother's church again for donating their money to something that brought many students together to create something that will last years and affect the youth that come to the dar chabab to further their education and curiosity about the world around them. God bless your parents :)
** Local kids helping out with the map**

** The map SLOWLY coming together :) brush stroke after brush stroke**


** Thanks to Abdou and Lisa for their hours of labor and love towards this project**




**Thanks also to Marissa and Faye, my fellow YD staj-mates. They were amazing and so helpful! this project could not of been done without their help**

14 October 2010

Tanger, Tetouan, and Chefchaouen- Last Moroccan Vacation

What a trip! By far one of my top 5 mini Moroccan vacations. Once COS conference was over and things settled down, I went on my finale vacation here inMorocco as a PCV. One of my close friends in Peace Corps and a friend from Khemisset came along with me on this littleadventure. We had a car so we really got to see a lot of all three of these cities. We began with just wanting to see Tanger, but once we had a car, we decided to make the most of the time we had and see the other two cities too.

> Chefchaoen
Tanger>

Tanger is by far my favorite northern Moroccan cities. It had the perfect mix of Spanish, Arab, and Africa blends in culture and architecture. I got to walk around the city for a while, visit the famous American Legation, and got to chill at the cafe where they filmed The Borne Supremacy.
Once we got our fill of Tanger, we hit the road to Tetouan for a quick coffee break before arriving to Chefchaoen.

The Tetouan souq was HUGE! I almost got lost. There was a beautiful palace that was right in the middle of town. Tetouan was one of the most Spanish/European influenced towns of the north. The architecture of the townmade me feel like I was in southern Spain walking around the main streets. Also being spoken to in Spanish the whole time was wonderful. I'd rather be
"Hola"ed than"Bonjour"ed any day.

<>

Once we left Tetouan, we hit
the road to our finale destination, Chefchaouen!! Located in the Rif Mountains. This town is famous for the color blue that is used throughout the city and the location within the Rif Mountains is one of the most breath-taking locations in Morocco. Check out this link for more on this information on this city: http://wikitravel.org/en/Chefchaouen

If anyone decides to visit Morocco, you have to check out Ozt, Tanger, Wester Sahara, and Chefchouen for sure.

Chefchaouen stairs>

Just A Little Taste of Being A Woman In Morocco

I love Morocco. I truly do. The majority of the people here are some of the most kind and welcoming people I have ever met, but at times, the men in this country take it upon themselves to remind me the ranking in this culture really is when dealing with gender issues. I understand that they think that the way they greet non-Muslim women is a compliment and that out of 100 women ONE will enjoy these kind of comments, but the 99 others do not. I took this comic from a fellow PCV's blog and wanted to share with you. I am happy to of joined Peace Corps because it was one of the best things I have ever experienced in my life thus far, but also, one of the hardest experience I have ever been through. AGAIN, I remind you that not all Moroccan men do this and I do not see every Moroccan man in this light, but since moving from a small rural village to an urban town filled with foreign women married to Moroccan men, it is hard to even walk to the local haunt to buy milk without some daily harassment. I just want to share another side of my Peace Corps experience. Both the good and the not so good.

link: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/09/02/women-and-street-harassment/

10 October 2010

COS Conference DoNe!

Close Of Service (COS) Conference is DoNe! Last week was one filled with LONG meetings to help my staj "reintegrate" into American life again, getting my teeth checked out along with my finale physical and the many trips to the lab to drop off samples of bowel movements and blood. Also I cannot forget to add the usual unemployment protests and enjoyable walks from Rabatville to Agdal. Honestly, it is not a truly authentic stay in the capitol of Morocco without at least a couple protest going on outside of the Parliament Building which was located across the street from the hotel all the volunteers were staying at last week.
I had meetings with David, the Country Director along with my programing staff YD lovingly calls "A-Team." It was nice to be able to share my experiences and recommendations from these past 2 years+ of my PCV life.
It was good to see SBD together again with YD chilling at HQ. Catching up over drinks at non-Moroccan food restaurants was great! I got to sit down with a lot of other people in my staj that I never had the time to get to know as well as I wanted. That was a blessing.
After the COS conference, it was nice to see that most of my fellow staj-mates are in the same boat as I am with what the future holds for us once we sign that little red book on November 12th. When I was able to talk to other PCVs and listen to the RPCVs (retired peace corps volunteers) talk about what they went through, it took some of the stress off of me and reminded me that I need to be patient with myself and that things will work out.. also this traveling bug I have is something that will always be with me. We shall see how long I stay state-side until I start getting antsy again:) well that is all for today! Hope all is well in your world and keep a look out for my next entry which should be up by the end of this week, Inch Allah.

27 September 2010

Connecting My Peace Corps Experience with Belle from Beauty and The Beast.

I’m shamelessly stealing this from other shameless blog thieves. I don’t know who deserves the credit, but I’m pretty amused.If you ever wanted to understand what I go through as female Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco check out this clip from Beauty and the Beast. What Belle experiences in this clip is my life in a nutshell here in Morocco:




Popout

1. She reads books, and people think that’s odd. It’s especially odd because she carries them around with her all the time.
2. People scream “Bonjour!” at her from windowsills and alleyways.
3. She lives in a “little town…a quiet village.”
4. Everyday is “like the one before.” (also see: “Every morning [is] just the same since the morning that [she] came to this poor provincial town.
5. She sees the baker first thing in the morning with the “same old bread and rolls to sell.”
6.
Minute 1:00 – She excitedly recounts to someone an important story (in her mind), and is politely dismissed because the story has nothing to do with the number or price of produce that day.
7.
Minute 1:07 – People in town start talking about her behind her back. She doesn’t notice — it’s almost as if they’re speaking another language and she’s happily strolling through town, oblivious to their comments…just smiling at them the whole time.
8.
Minute 1:20 – She hitches a ride on a horse/donkey cart. This is a common occurrence in Peace Corps (though I can only comfortably speak to my experiences in Morocco). Sometimes there’s no other transportation available, and hitch on a donkey cart, you must.
9.
Minute 1:24 – People are greeting each other, not only saying hello, but asking about their families. Although their greetings here do not extend into the 30-second long salutation that we experience in the bled, I’m sure it would if the song had been longer if American audiences were judged patient enough to sit through that kind of thing.
10.
Minute 1:30 – There is an exasperated woman with multiple babies in her arms.
11. Exasperated woman wants 6 eggs, but that’s “too expensive.” Six eggs would also be deemed preventively expensive in many places here as well.
12.
Minute 1:35 – Belle says, “There must be more than this provincial life!” She’s complaining again. She didn’t say, “I miss peanut butter and Mexican food,” but that’s pretty much what she meant. Again, note the complaining. Peace Corps Volunteers are EXPERT complainers.
13. Bookstore owner is a cute little goat-looking man. Those are found in abundance in Morocco.
14.
Minute 1:50- Belle climbs the ladder in the bookstore and swings it to the other side of the bookshelf. In a Barnes and Noble, this would prompt screaming store attendants, wary of a possible lawsuit when you fall. In Morocco (and in Belle’s world), no problem. If you fall, Allah willed it.
15.
Minute 2:00 – Belle goes on and on about how much she loves something, which basically requires the nice goat-man to give it to her. You often see this in Morocco.
16.
Minute 2:02 – Men staring at her and trying to get her attention.
17.
Minute 2:10 – Belle pats a random child’s head. This is considered creepy in America, but in Morocco, PCVs are encourages to pat, hold, and feed random children.
18.
Minute 2:21 – Belle sits in the town center next to the fountain, (like Morocco – except their fountain works) surrounded by sheep.
19. …then Belle starts to talk to the sheep. Many a PCV talk to their pets, because they sometimes understand English better than the townspeople (or so they think).
20. Also, at the same moment, you see a woman washing her clothes in the public water source. Hopefully she’s not using Tide and exposing us all to dangerous levels of phosphates.
21.
Minute 3:00- Townsfolk say they think she’s beautiful because she’s fair. Moroccans often say this about light-skinned Americans. Belle, on the other hand, probably fancies a nice tan (and could probably use one, too).
22.
Minute 3:20 – Gaston wears tight Euro-trash pants and shirt, and obviously thinks more of himself than he should. Reminds me of a few select 20-something boys in Morocco.
23.
Minute 3:35-4:00 – Gaston wants to marry the foreign girl because he thinks she’s pretty.
24.
Minute 4:45 – Townsfolk joyfully remark how Belle doesn’t “quite” fit in (even if she has been there for almost 2 years!).
25.
Minute 4:55 – Everyone is staring at her.

And finally, (26) she’s singing a Disney song!

BEERY PICKING TIME!




It is that time of the year :) Berry Picking 2010 in Ain Inlueh, which is a town about 4 hours away from Kheimsset. This little village that is located on the side of the Middle Atlas Mountains is one of the most peaceful and breath taking areas up north. I got to spend some quality time with some SBD volunteers, eat some yummy food, and pick a ton of black berries that were FREEto take! In Ain Inlueh, not many Moroccans eat black berries or know that you can cook and make these berries into jam so the group I went with to berry pick just went along the sides of the roads and into peoples yards (asking the home owners first) picking away for hours. I did not realize how relaxing it was to berry pick and why I have not done this more often back in the states at my grandfather's bushes back home. I am planning on helping him out next season back in Michigan for sure now that I am a pro-berry picker now :) Bring it on thorns.. I am ready!

Here is a picture of the town of Ain Inleuh and a couple of my Peace Corps friends that I went berry picking with. This town was very welcoming and an awesome town to work-out in. The steps to get from the top of town where we all stayed with a volunteer to the souq and closest haunt guy for bread would leave you out of breath and sweaty. It was an intense workout that I loved! I woke up early one morning just to go up and down those steps to work up a sweat, but I think the women who were cleaning outside and watching me go up and down where saying " Why is this white girl going up and down these s
teps so much?" It is because I love to work-out, to be challenged, and also have the local people have something to talk about :)

The photo above shows how proud I am with my water bottle full of freshly picked black berries!

I was happy to of gone on this berry picking adventure with my friends to this town. Now that I have only 46 days left as a Peace Corps volunteer, I am trying to enjoy any last minute cities I have yet to visit along trying to prepare for graduate school, career hunting back in the USA, and shipping items back home from Morocco all the while starting up my finale project in site and preparing things for the new volunteer that will be replacing me. A lot needs to be done. wish me luck!
It was nice to leave site, but now it is time to get some Close Of Service (COS) things together. Time is running out!

08 September 2010

A.R.M. DONE and OFFICIALLY TWO YEARS in MOROCCO!

AFTER TWO YEARS OF HARD WORK AND FUN ART RELATED WORK, THE ART RESOURCE MANUAL THAT WE LOVINGLY CALL, A.R.M. IS DONE!

It is a 153 page art manual for all Peace Corps Volunteers in Morocco to use to help them with anything from art club/class lesson plans, local suppliers, museums, galleries, to how to say "yarn," or certain materials in Daija, FusHa, and Tam that are not given in our PC Darija/Tam language manual. I am very proud of this manual and it could not of been done with out the help of my good friend and fellow artist, Lisa Payne. Lisa, you are amazing! Thanks for listening to my crazy idea for A.R.M. and helping me make this crazy idea come alive and become an actual manual.
This manual makes my experience as a Peace Corps the "cheery on top" of my service. A.R.M. reminded me how much I love art, miss it, how much I am looking forward to the next step in my life after Peace Corps, which is, Inch Allah, interning, working, or volunteering at a museum or historical society to start my dream of one day working in collections/archives. I am ready for the next step and this manual is an example of my dedication to art and how important it is to have art in my life along with the rest of the world, or at least Peace Corps world. Now after Living in Morocco for 2 years, I have come to realize the lack of creativity the students I work with have in this country. It is all academic, nothing to do with the arts, and I am happy that for the two years I have been here in Morocco, I can leave knowing that the students I worked with and helped got a creative injection of the arts. If it was from doing 50 English drawing flash cards, family trees, paper doll races to art battles, life drawing, mural painting, etc. I know that they are looking at life differently now or at least can draw a darn good tree, remember the English vocabulary I taught them (visual learning is powerful tool), and can paint like a pro now :)
It has been officially two years today since I left the USA and came to this country, and even through the ups and downs I have had, good and bad, when I think of my time here I spent as a volunteer, friend, and family member, it warms my heart to know that I made an impression upon my students, community, family and friends. I would not of had such fond memories with out them in my life while in Morocco, and it will be a very sad day on November 13th when I officially leave Morocco to start my Close Of Service Adventure to Egypt and Turkey because I will be leaving good friends, new life long family, and a country that always welcomed me with open arms. I know that I will return to Morocco. I promise that.

22 August 2010

Back Home In Khemisset, Humdullah



Yes. I have returned from a month long adventure/summer camp fest and man am I tried! Since July 20th, I have been on the road traveling, meeting new people, seeing new places, and working my last summer camp as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

(Image: with my host brothers, Ayoub and Yassine, after a tearful goodbye to new friends the last night of camp)

As soon as I landed back in Fez, Morocco, I caught a train to Meknes and then a taxi back to my site where I had only 24 hours to unpack, wash clothes, pay bills, re-pack, and hit the road for another 5 hours to get to El Jadida for my last summer camp as a PCV!

It was a fun camp with some great first and second year volunteers. The Moroccan access students were super helpful this year due to the amount of beginner students I had to take on and little issues that came up between staff and the kids at camp. It was a productive and very chill camp until Ramadan hit. When Ramadan began, that was when tempers were shortened due to fasting, which is totally understandable. Not being able to eat or drink from 6am until 7:30pm while at a camp, running around, and doing activities; that is not a good and healthy combo. It was rough and most of the kids, volunteers, and Moroccan staffers got sick, but we pull through and ended the last camp of the summer on a positive note. I was able to bring my two host brothers, Yassine and Ayoub, to camp with me and they enjoyed themselves to the point that they were sad to leave and tearing up when saying goodbye to new friends that they made while at camp.

The highlights of camp:

  • Going to the beach and watching the students do Tug-of-War
  • One kid got pushed in between two pillars by a Moroccan staffer and it took 3 PCV’s (yes, i was one of the 3) and 5 minutes of pushing and pulling to get him out
  • Fasting highs and lows
  • PCV boy band being created and performed "I Want It That Way" at spectacular
  • Being voted most beautiful American volunteer/teacher at camp.. sukran ya'll :)
  • PCV’s getting together and performing the song “Shout”
  • My beginner kids picking out American names for class
  • Halloween haunted house
  • The song “ I Love Dogs” classic
  • Being artsy all camp. I miss doing that.

Now that I am back in site, still fighting off whatever kind of cold/sickness I have had for over a week or so now, I am getting ready to finish the Art Resource Manual that my site mate and I have been working hard at for 2 years now. It should be ready by the time the new YD and SBD group comes in on September 15th! I am still in shock with how fast time has flown by. I cannot believe that in about 3 weeks, there will be a new group that has come to replace my staj, and that there is one person in that group that will be taking over my position at the dar chabab in Khemisset. I am excited for what these next couple of months will bring! On top of all of this, I am applying for jobs back home in the museum world in ANY state that is hiring. If you know of any museum hiring or taking interns, please send the information my way. I am happy that I got to take part in Peace Corps, experience an Islamic country and the Moroccan culture, but I am eager to head home, start my life back up, and work towards my graduate school dream in Museum Studies or Conservation.

Well the Imane at the mosques are doing their calls so it is time for me to get some work done before Liftor begins. Hope all is well in your world. Peace N Love.


11 August 2010

From Hrvatska, With Love




DOBRO JUTRO!

in English, GOOD MORNING!

(Image: Zagreb)

I started my journey in Germany where I stayed for a couple of days while waiting for my connecting flight to Croatia. I was happy to be back in Europe and in my favorite country with the best beer in the world J The highlight to my German layover was being able to walk around the countryside for a couple of hours and taking in the view of the lush green landscape. I was just walking around, jamming out to my ipod, and taking in the atmosphere that is Germany. It almost made me feel like I was back home in Michigan.

(Image: Germany)

Once in Croatia, I traveled for 9 days to:

Pula: Yummy food and a good city to walk around in

Rijeka: Awesome farmers market and port

Zadar: The Sun Salutation and Sea Organ. GOOGLE this!

Zagreb: The capital and now one of my top 10 favorite cities and got a great haircut in, Humdullah!

Đurđevacv: where I met my long lost family from my grandfather Presecan heritage. This was my highlight of my Croatia trip.

Croatia.. aka… one of the coolest countries I have visited! The people are kind and super excited to see Americans. Some people who met me said that I was the first American they have ever met before. CRAZY! So to all you Americans out there, go check out Croatia! You will be pleasantly surprised how cheap things are, how welcoming the people are, and the scenery is worth traveling for, trust me on this. Also in Croatia, everyone knows English so it is super easy to get around Croatia and communicate with the Croatians.

The food there was amazing, but very buttery and rich. I could not eat a whole meal due to this, but I did leave full from every place I ate at. Honestly, I was just happy to NOT be eating Moroccan like food for 11 days, whoo! By far my favorite dish was squash deep-fried in batter at my relative’s house in the countryside. I am not a deep fried kind of girl, but wow, when I ate that with some yogurt/sour cream on top… DELIGHT!

The beaches in Croatia are crystal clear, white, and the sea is so blue that even in the Rijeka Port, I could see hundreds of fishes swimming around looking for food. I have never seen such clean and clear water before. I mean nothing can beat Lake Michigan and the beaches there, but the Croatian coast can give Lake Michigan a run for its money.

(Image: Rijeka)



As I mentioned earlier, the highlight to my little Croatian adventure was finally meeting my relatives near the city where my grandfather was born. I met Tihana, Martina, and their family in a beautiful small town called Đurđevacv. I have never met such welcoming and happy people before. Their mother was always smiling and offering me food left and right until I could not move from my seat due to how overly stuffed I was from lunch. Their father was calling up all the family he could remember and asking about my grandfather and was sharing the baptismal certificate I brought to see if he could get any answers for me. He was very cheerful man, and helpful with looking into my grandfather’s certificate for me. I actually found out that my grandfather was from the village about 10 km down the road from them called Kolstar, that my great grandmother, Klara, her family was from around this area, and I found out how to say my last name correctly in Croatian J I am looking into changing my last name so it will sound like it should because it sounds beautiful in Croatian.

(image: Zagreb)

It was a sad moment when I had to leave Croatia so I could make it back in time to do summer camp in El Jadida, but I know that is was not a “good bye”; it was more like a “see you soon” kind of vibe. I hope to return again soon and visit my relatives longer in the countryside, check out the capital again, and see some of Croatia’s famous National Parks, and go more east and south within this beautiful and inspiring country.

HVALA!! vidimo se !







19 July 2010

A.R.M. update

The Art Resource Manual is almost finished! Lisa and I have started the layout and putting information that was submitted by PCVs along with our own research for this manual. I am so excited to finish A.R.M. once I return from summer camp in mid August. Our due date for this manual is the first week of September, when the new PCVs come into Morocco to start their training to replace me and my staj! WOW, I can not believe it is almost time to meet those who will be replacing me and my staj I came in with. These past 23 months have just flown by! In a blink of an eye I will find myself stamping and signing that little red book to officially become an RPCV (retired peace corps volunteer).

SouTherN VacaTioN- July 2010


I just returned from my very hot, but wonderful time back down in the orginial site, Skoura, to see my old site-mate, April, and my host family in the Bled. The trip was great and being able to catch up with old family and friends in the Skoura area was wonderful. When I at souq and walking around in the Bled, people remembered me and came up welcoming me back to Skoura with open arms and a lot of hugs. It was a heart warming. The only bummer to the trip was that I feel asleep in front of a fan when I first got into Ouarzazate and, as always, I got a head cold that lasted most of my vacation down south. I think I am the only person that gets a head cold from a fan in the face.

Even though I was sick most of my vacation, I still had a blast just chilling in April’s site, seeing her women and the products they have been making, and spending some quality time with my host family, but now I am back in site preparing for my next and finale vacation as a PCV in Morocco. I will be heading to CROATIA on Saturday July 24th and will return in early August just in time to make it to El Jadida for the last English summer camp. Starting on the 24th until the middle of August, I will be out of site and off seeing the world, well at least a little portion of it.

I can not wait to make it to Croatia and see the country where my grandfather came from, and my family on my father’s side . I have contacted a couple of possible “cousins” in Croatia and hope to see them at some point throughout my journey.

Well, I must be off to finish up some last minute plans for Croatia. Hope all is well back state side or where ever you all are reading my blog.

Peace N Love.

4th of July in Khemisset, Morocco

Happy 4th of July, everyone back in the good ole USA (I know kinda late). I got to spend my last 4th of July in Moroco in my new site with my fellow Khemisset region-mates. We spent the whole day cooking, grilling, baking, and chilling on my roof listening to some American music. The weather was wonderful, the company was great, and even some Moroccans came along to enjoy this American holiday and awesome spread J I was happy to of spent some time with my new region-mates and celebrate a little bit of America with them on this day. Happy Birthday USA!!!!

Mount Jebel Toubkal


Well when thought it was a smart idea for me to start my mountain climbing career in Morocco on Mt. Jebel Toubkal, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I mean, I have hiked a lot while in the states, but not a mountain, and nothing like what I experienced while getting to the peak of Mt. Jebel Toubkal.

The peak is almost 14, 00 feet above sea level. The clmib up was nothing I could of prepared myself for and my body was in a little bit of pain afterwards, but WOW, all the photos, all the beauty that I saw going up, at the peack, and climbing (more like scooting down) Mt. Jebel Toubkal was worth all the mental and physical ups and downs I experienced, and I would do it again in a heart beat just to experience that all over again.



I went on this trek with a couple of PCVs in my staj, but my true trekking partner was my girl, Marrisa, one of my roomies while in PST, and now my hiking soul mate for life. We started out trek at 6:00am and what should of taken a pro climber maybe 4 hours to go up and back down to base camp to do, with two newbies trying to hike this mountain like all the pros… it took a bit longer than expected. Let’s just say that Marrisa and I started at 6am and everyone from the base camp hostel that left after us, even climbers leaving at 3 in the afternoon, beat us down the mountain. When Marissa and I finally got down the mountain back to base camp, we found everyone at the hostel outside cheering us into camp. Kind of embarssing and supportive at the same time.


Even though I was not prepared for this journey, I am so happy that I pushed myself and made it to the peak and back down. When returning back to the states, I hope to keep up with more intense climbing, but next time around, I think I will work my way up to a Mt. Jebel Toubkal level instead of going head first into something like that again.


Here are some fun facts about Mt. Jebel Toubkal, if you are intested J


* Highest mountain peak in North Africa, 2nd highest after Mount Kilaminjaro in all of Africa

* Takes 3.5 hours by mule to get from base camp to the village of Imlil where everyone starts off their trek to Toubkal, so just think about that on foot.

* Mount Jebel Toubkal is one of those freaking mountains that you do not see any sign of the peak until WAY into your trek. Every time I thought I was near the peak, there was another set of mountains OR valley OR cliff you have to climb up before you see a light at the end of this hiking tunnel.

check out this website for further information on this mountain:

http://www.addictedtotravel.com/travel-guides/places-to-visit/jebel-toubkal_morocco-travel-guide

16 May 2010

6 Months In Counting

Well on the 12th of this month marked all my fellow staj-mates official 6 month countdown to finishing up our service in Peace Corps, Morocco. I can not believe that 21 months have already past, and that there are only 6 more months of work to be done! This means my last summer camp, my last Ramadan, and my last summer/fall here in Morocco. I am both excited to be almost done, but sad to realize that in 6 months, I shall have to say goodbye to the life that I have made for myself here these last (almost) 2 years. I mean I am almost ready/prepared to do so since my site change, but there is a difference between leaving a site and leaving a country.
I have to keep in mind that 6 months is still a long time, but from all the RPCVs (Retired Peace Corps Volunteers) I have spoken to, time flies by in a blind of an eye your last 6 months, and then you are signing that pretty red book and officially becoming an RPCV.
My goals for the next 6 months are a bit different than my other staj-mates due to the new situation I am in by being a new YD volunteer in Khemisset so late in the YD game, but I am looking forward to what these next/last 6 months of my service will be bringing me. I hope to start up a world map project, to do some sort of SIDA activities, start up an art class along with a couple hours dedicated towards English classes, and maybe some Yoga/Pilate's classes, if the students are interested:) But most importantly I am wanting to prepare as much as I can for the PCV that will be replacing me since he/she will have the time to really get things started in this site. I am just laying down the ground work, getting to know the community, and giving this town an idea of what a YD volunteer is/does, and hopefully I will be as helpful as can be with whoever is going to be taking over this site in November.
Bring on the last 6 months! I am ready and very excited to see what will be going on!!!!

12 May 2010

Khemisset. A Place To Call Home.

It is official. After two weeks of being homeless, and Peace Corps working as hard as they could to find a proper site for me, I have a new site for the rest of my service in Khemisset. My new site is in northern Morocco, located 80 km from the capital, Rabat, and about an hour away from Meknes.
It is nothing like Skoura.Skoura was beautiful in its own dessert like way with palm trees, kasbahs, donkeys, mountains, and welcoming people. Khemisset is green, has horses, a lot of farm land, and forests! Its weekly souq is as big as my old sites "downtown" area. The medina is huge, it has week long veggie souq, two main square areas, cafes at every corner, and even a tennis court/rec. area including a swimming pool. Khemisset is known for their horses and you see them on every street either working as a taxi service around the city or hulling local produce to souq. I went from a very rural area to a very urban area, which is something that I need to get used to. Even with Ouarzazate 45 km away from me back in the south, Khemisset is almost as big, and even more busier than Oz.
I am Khemisset's first Youth Development volunteer, but I am not the first PCV in Khemisset. I have an awesome site-mate and best pal, Lisa, that has been here her whole service. She sworn in with me 21 months ago, but works in a different sector of Peace Corps. Her job is to work with the local artisans in Khemisset. There are other PCVs in the region and I look forward to meeting them all and hopefully collaborating with them and Lisa throughout the rest of my service.
The new dar chabab that I will be working in is HUGE! seriously, HUGE! It has a theatre, three huge classrooms with many windows (very open space), a long hallway that connects to the other part of the dar chabab where there is room for computers, a music room, and art room. It has been under construction for 7 months now because it is becoming what we call here in Morocco, a model dar chabab. This means that this building is the ideal dar chabab that the Ministry of Youth and Sports (the ministry is the reason why YD works in Morocco, PC YD works under this umbrella of the ministry). It is colorful, has a small courtyard, open, and with plenty of space for big projects and events. I got to meet my new moudir and delegate and they are very welcoming and open to ideas, which is perfect.
My moudir and I seem like we will work well together. He is on personal leave because he is putting together his very own art exhibition that will be going on over the summer in Tanger! His work is impressive and I am thrilled to have a real counterpart that is my moudir, and someone who is also passionate about the arts.
Since there has not been any kind of real activities inside the dar chabab in some time, and starting next month the BIG high school exam happens and school will be over for the summer (starting June 10th), which means the dar chabab will be closed until after Ramadan (end of August). This means that I will be focusing in on helping the students in the dar chabab with homework, doing activities/some clubs, and just getting to know them since I have less than a month before the students disappear for their summer fun. After Ramadan though, it is going to be super busy and exciting at the dar chabab in Khemisset,:)
I will be honest that only having 6 months left before I COS (humdullah), I am being challenged with the short time i have left. To integrate into a community, it takes about 6 months, then the real work begins. I only have time to integrate, then I am finished with my service. Though that is going to be a challenge, I am taking this new site by the "horns" or maybe I should be "hooves" :) and getting this dar chabab up and running again. I am going to focus on letting the local youth get to know the me, gain their trust, do some classes and activities, and research/prepare this site for the PCV that will be replacing me in November. That is my amazing game plan and I have my work cut out for me, but I am excited about it.
I can not get into detail over why I was site changed, and I would like to leave that in the past, but I can at least say this, I am finally in a site that I feel happy and healthy to be working in. Skoura will always be home to me in Morocco. My family and friends are there, but I am ready for the next task at hand, which is Khemisset and the youth here.
To learn more about my new home, check out these websites. Just copy and paste them onto your URL. EnJoY.

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/316584/Khemisset
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khemisset

05 May 2010

Wanted: A Site To Call Home

HEY EVERYONE!
I am just writing to keep you posted on what is going on with me here in Morocco. Currently I am writing from a nice hotel in Rabat that I have been staying in for a week now. This hotel is currently my new home until the meeting on Friday with the whole Peace Corps staff about where I am going to be living these last 6 months and what I will be doing. It has been a little bit on the stressful side, but I know that things will work out. Also it has been nice to be in Rabat and catch up on things and focus on my life here in Morocco and what I want to do before I COS. I will keep you posted on what is going on when I find out more information. I might be going to El Jadida or another city... we shall see where fate and the Peace Corps staff takes me :)

21 April 2010

POSTAL HOLD!

HEY everyone out there in cyber space! I am writing to tell all my friends and family that at this moment I am asking everyone to put on hold any letters or packages you are wanting to send to me. I am having postal issues (nothing serious like stealing) and until further notice, please wait on anything you want to send to me to Morocco and I will keep you posted on when you can start sending me cool things :) MISS YOU ALL!

08 April 2010

WeStErN SaHaRa!!!!


I FINALLY MADE IT DOWN TO THE WESTERN SAHARA! and it was one of the most memorbale moments in my Peace Corps service in Morocco. I left spring camp and headed down to Merzuga where my Western Sahara camel adventure began! A group of people came along with me on this little adventure. We started at a hotel at the edge of the desert, went by camel for two hours to our camping site where I stayed overnight under the stars, saw a shooting star through clouds, and woke up to the moon slowly disappearing into the sunrise. I walked to the top of the largest san dune that I was camping next to. The view from the top was breathtaking and with how the wind was blowing the sand around me and the dunes; I can not put into words how amazing nature can create such wonderful works of beauty just by breathing :)
After a very fun trek up the dunes I headed back to camp, ate breakfast, and got back on my camel to head back
to the hotel to finish out this awesome desert trek adventure. Whoever comes to Morocco has to do this trip!
One of the best times I have ever had! camels+desert+good friends= awesome time!

Missour Spring Camp


I spent one wonderful week up north in the small in the middle of no where town called Missour. It is about 70 km from Midelt and about a 11 hour drive north-east from my site here in Skoura. I got to teach a group of 16 kids in a beginner English class at Spring Camp Missour. My class was great and very excited about being in my class and at camp. It was a long week, but totally worth the hard work :) I have never worked with such appreciative and happy kids before at a camp. It got me excited about what great things can be done during this coming Summer camps in El Jadida! Now I am back in my site and back to work. Cross your fingers that these last 9 weeks will go well and that my last summer here in Morocco is a memorable one.

26 March 2010

Sustainable Development Presentaion


Last weekend two of my BAC students and myself put together a power point presentation and open discussion at the local library about sustainable development internationally and locally. There were speakers from different associations, the BAC students spoke English very well, and I even had a few minutes to talk about Peace Corps, my job, and how the local communi
ty could help with sustainability within Skoura, itself. We had a wonderful turn out and what was even more impressive was that the whole presentation was in English. I was very proud of my BAC students. It was refreshing to be able to meet new people from associations I have never heard of in my site, and now I have more places to go and volunteer at!
Now I am heading to Spring camp in Missour! I am so excited to travel and meet new students and
hang out with some old PCV pals of mine that I have not seen in months! until next blog, Baslama.
<-- I am the one with the green hat:)

21 March 2010

The British Are Coming!!!



The British came to Skoura High School for a random last minute cross cultural morning presentation with the first and second year BAC students in my site. There were about 20 British students and teachers that came to the high school to participate in some cross cultural activities and English speaking.
The BAC students prepared two presentations; one on the city of Skoura, and the second on the Moroccan educational system, all in English. The British group that visited us was part of a Geography Class, so the information that was given to them by the BAC students was helpful for the visiting students.
After the presentations we then showed the British students and teachers the high school grounds, showed them the English classrooms, and ended the morning with tea and one last cross cultural activity. At the end of the morning activities both Moroccan and British students were exchanging emails so they could keep in touch.
It was just a short morning meeting with those students from East London, but it has left a lasting impact and possible new friendships formed here in Skoura.
I was so proud of the BAC students for using their English, interacting with the visiting students, and being open and very friendly towards them. I could see all of them enjoying their conversations and the new friendships they were forming.