June 19, 2005: Headlines: COS - Morocco: Blogs - Morocco: Personal Web Site: Peace Corps Volunteer Jmac in Morocco: A typical day

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Morocco: Peace Corps Morocco : The Peace Corps in Morocco: June 19, 2005: Headlines: COS - Morocco: Blogs - Morocco: Personal Web Site: Peace Corps Volunteer Jmac in Morocco: A typical day

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-245-37.balt.east.verizon.net - on Monday, July 04, 2005 - 1:28 pm: Edit Post

Peace Corps Volunteer Jmac in Morocco: A typical day

Peace Corps Volunteer Jmac in Morocco: A typical day

"The reality is that the Peace Corps experience is a varied one. Some do live in grass huts. Others live in villas. Some do speak clicking languages. Others speak French. So, in order to educate you about the daily life of one Peace Corps volunteer, I have kept a journal this week for your reading enjoyment…"

Peace Corps Volunteer Jmac in Morocco: A typical day

Dairy of a Peace Corps Volunteer (Sorry folks, I don’t really live in a grass hut)

Many people wonder what a day in the life of a Peace Corps volunteer is really like...

“Do volunteers fetch their own water from a well?”

“Do they sleep on straw?”

“Do they speak strange clicking languages?”

“Do they use toilet paper?”

“Do they have toilet?

The reality is that the Peace Corps experience is a varied one. Some do live in grass huts. Others live in villas. Some do speak clicking languages. Others speak French.

So, in order to educate you about the daily life of one Peace Corps volunteer, I have kept a journal this week for your reading enjoyment…

Sunday, June 13th 2005

Glasses of tea drank: 3

I woke up at 6:30 this morning after sleeping on a one-inch thick mat. Don’t let this fool you. I’m actually used to sleeping on a very comfortable mattress with very soft blankets. However, on this particularly foggy morning I woke up in Aday, a village about 60 kilometers from my site.

Dara was already up and working in her house. I was pulling myself off the mat while scratching my newly acquired mosquito bites when I heard the snorting. Dara rushed to the window and opened it. “Jenn, look, it’s some wild boar!” I jumped up and looked out the window to see a family of boar run by Dara’s house.

By 7 am, we were walking next door to Aday’s school. I kept my eyes peeled in the fog, searching for boar, but there were none to be found. Meeting us at the school were about 16 middle school girls and 1 boy, about age 9, sent along to protect his sister. Dara was transporting these girls, and the 1 tagalong boy, 20 k away to Anzi.

Aday, Dara’s site, doesn’t have a high school. So students have to commute to Anzi to attend high school or stay in Anzi at the dormitory. Dara and another volunteer organized a Girl’s Day near their sites to encourage girls to continue their education into high school, despite its logistical difficulties. So, about 50 middle school age girls were about to converge at the local high school to tour their future educational home and to celebrate being girls.

After my introducing the girls to basic yoga, aerobics, and fitness, I left for home. Home is only about 60 k away from the village that held the Girl’s Day, but there is no direct transport. If I had a car, the ride would take an hour. Instead, I have to rely on cramped public taxis that take 3 hours plus.

For dinner I gorged myself on watermelon and apricots. Both are only in season for a short time, so I try to get my fill while I can! I wonder how long one can live on a diet of watermelon and apricots…

That night I curled up and watch a movie on my laptop (So I hate to disappoint all those who imagine Peace Corps to be synonymous with a lack of electricity, but the fact of the matter is that I not only have electricity, but I have my laptop as my multi-purpose entertainment center).

Monday June 13th, 2005

Glasses of tea drank: 2

I woke up this morning with my own cozy blanket, on my very comfortable mattress. Oddly, the temperature during the night was around 50 degrees F. We had been experiencing and much welcomed cold spell for this time of year. The temperature heated up to the 80s during the day, but that is even a welcomed blessing.

Today was a recuperation day. I read, wrote, and watched a movie. I try to take at least one of these days a week, sometimes more after traveling or working a lot, to just chill out. I had visitors for several days last week and then was gone over the weekend, so I needed time to unwind.

In the afternoon, I led an aerobics class at the women’s center. We warmed up to Berber music, worked out to “Inspirational Power Mix”, and then cooled down by dancing to JLo. Of course, anytime there is danceable music and Berber women, a dance party ensued at the end of class.

Dinner turned out to be fried chicken, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, and watermelon. I normally eat healthy here, but every now and then this southern gal needs her comfort food—Tennessee summer vegetables and southern fried goodness!

Tuesday June 14th, 2005

Glasses of tea: 4

After waking up around 7:30, I began my morning ritual of tea making and breakfast. I heated water on a propane stove, and prepare loose green tea with ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and honey.

I am an example of a cultural-hybrid. I came to Morocco as a coffee drinker but have been persuaded by a tea drinking culture that greener is better. However, I have modified the Moroccan tradition by omitting 90% of the sugar and adding chi spices.

At 10:30 I made my way to the women’s center for PE fun with the preschoolers. Today we learned how to do forward rolls on mats and to play musical chairs. We also practiced If you’re happy and you know it. My goal is that these kids sing something that sounds remotely like If you’re happy and you know it, before my service ends.

After a lunch of stir fry chez moi, I took an afternoon nap. When I woke up, I used my multi-purpose entertainment center to write emails/correspondence for the GAD conference. (Now, before you think me a traitor to all volunteers everywhere, I don’t have internet in my house. I write emails in Word and then take them to the very slow internet to send. But alas, I do have computers and internet in my site!)

At 5:30, 15 women converged at the women’s center for yoga. We do yoga on a concrete floor that we cover with thin plastic rugs. The women come in veiled and wearing their traditional gear, then promptly strip this off to reveal short sleeves, jogging pants, pajamas, and sometimes even shorts!

After yoga, I stopped by my host family’s for tea. They live next to the women’s center and expect me to come by at least a few times a week. Today everyone was beaming because Fatima (age 6) got an 18/20 on one of her tests. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I gather that is a really good grade. Fatima’s grandfather kept yelling “Baccalaureate! Baccalaureate!” The baccalaureate is the very difficult exam that Moroccans must pass to enter university. No one in Fatima’s family has passed the baccalaureate, so maybe she will be the first.

After celebrating a little with Fatima, I headed to the local internet café to email. Despite the fact I have already written my emails, it takes me about and hour to send 3 emails and read my new mail.

Wednesday June 15, 2005

Glasses of tea drank: 6

Today was laundry day. I filled up a big tub with laundry soap and a massive pile of dirty clothes. I let the clothes soak for about 4 hours, scrubbed only the absolutely necessary items, and hung everything on my roof. Since it’s very hot and dry at the moment, the clothes were completely dry in about 2 hours.

For lunch I had couscous at one of my aerobics student’s house. My student is an Arab outsider and it’s always interesting to hear an outsiders take on Berberland. She views Tafraout as conservative and close minded. She also reminded me that as a foreigner, I’m allowed certain behavior such as not veiling. She, on the other hand has to veil or she will be gossiped about. Interesting.

In the afternoon I went to the Izerbi Women’s Center (which is about 30 k from Tafraout) to be somewhat of a guest speaker on fitness. I had trained one of workers to teach aerobics and yoga (something I’m far from qualified to do!), and it was great to see how her classes were shaping up. There were about 25 women who had been exercising for about a month.

These fitness classes have been some of my greatest achievements here in Tafraout. I had no idea they would be such a success. I started with about 3 regulars and 1 class a week. Now, I have about 15 regulars and 4 classes a week. On top of that, other Women’s Centers in the area have sent women to train to do the classes at those centers.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me about my Peace Corps service is that the things that I have done that have been the most successful are things I have never done before and hadn’t really anticipated doing. I was assigned this Peace Corps job because I had experience as an English teacher. However, my English classes are sporadic and attendance is poor. Luckily, I have found a completely different nitch that I enjoy a great deal.

When this story was posted in June 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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The Peace Corps Library Date: March 27 2005 No: 536 The Peace Corps Library
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Returned Volunteers met with author Philip Weiss in Baltimore on June 18 to discuss the murder of Peace Corps Volunteer Deborah Gardner. Weiss was a member of a panel that included three psychiatrists and a criminal attorney. Meanwhile, the Seattle U.S. Attorney's office announced that Dennis Priven cannot be retried for the murder. "We do not believe this case can be prosecuted by anyone, not only us, but in any other jurisdiction in the United States." Read background on the case here.

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RPCVs: Post your stories or press releases here for inclusion next week.

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June 6: PC suspends Uzbekistan program Date: June 7 2005 No: 640 June 6: PC suspends Uzbekistan program
Peace Corps has announced that it is suspending the Uzbekistan program after the visas of 52 Peace Corps volunteers who arrived in January were not renewed. The suspension comes after a State Department warning that terrorist groups may be planning attacks in Uzbekistan and after the killings in Andizhan earlier in May. Background: PCOL published a report on April 23 that Peace Corps volunteers who arrived in January were having visa difficulties and reported on safety and visa issues in Uzbekistan as they developed.

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Morocco; Blogs - Morocco


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