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.