"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.

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:


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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Minute 2:02 – Men staring at her and trying to get her attention.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Minute 3:35-4:00 – Gaston wants to marry the foreign girl because he thinks she’s pretty.
Minute 4:45 – Townsfolk joyfully remark how Belle doesn’t “quite” fit in (even if she has been there for almost 2 years!).
Minute 4:55 – Everyone is staring at her.

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


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



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.