Monday, October 25, 2010

Practice makes Perfect

A month and a half into training and everything is still going well. This past week we started teaching at our community youth center, or dar shbab. I’ve given two lessons, one to a very advanced group and one to a beginner group. My first lesson went very well. We listened to a story and talked about the moral. Then we did a popcorn story together. One where I gave a sentence, then a student gave another one, then another student gave another one and so on. It went very well and they were able to create a moral for the story. To close, I had them each write their own story and the other students in the class had to come up with what the moral was. Overall, it went very well and I think the students got a lot of it.
My beginner class did not go as well. I decided to teach them animals. To start, I had them do a race to name as many animals in English as they could in 3 minutes. Between the two teams, they named 15 animals. One team had no idea and wrote down the name of members of the group; partially to be funny and partially because they did not understand the exercise. Next, we went over animal vocab. That they got. I tried to challenge them by making similes but that did not go so well. I got answers like “you look like a cat” and “donkey like camel”. Not quite what I was going for but I thought I would try. After that we played animal bingo which went pretty well. I wanted to play a game after where everyone had a piece of paper with an animal on it either in darija (Moroccan Arabic) or English. They would need to find their match but everyone showed their cards instead of keeping it a secret. We did charades instead which did work. The kids were getting into it at the end. Overall, it has been a positive experience up till now and I know some things I will need to work on for my final site.
The dar shbab in general has been great. They have been very helpful for us during our training and making it so that we get the experience needed to be successful volunteers. The kids are also great. The ones we have been working with are very excited to learn English and are actively participating in all our activities. I feel bad that they only have us for a few more weeks. We’re basically a tease to them. They get to work with Americans for two months and then we leave them to find a new way to meet a growing demand for English. Hopefully they can get a volunteer in a year or so.
Other things to mention, this coming Saturday I will find out my permanent site. I’m excited to find out where I will be for the duration of my time here in Morocco and even more excited to start! Going through PST again hasn’t been so bad but it gets frustrating some days hearing the same things that have already been drilled into my head over the past two and a half years. It’s hard going from independent to having every move watched like I’m a teenager again. Next year, I’ll have my independence back and then everything will be wonderful. Just have to keep pushing myself through it. Well, hope everyone is doing well and stay posted for more updates!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

So it Begins Again...

Already two and a half weeks in to my second 27 month service with the Peace Corps in Morocco and there’s lots to tell! I’ll start with a basic overview of what’s happened so far and then I will get into some details. A group of 67 trainees landed in Casablanca on the 15th of September. For the next four days, we were in the ocean side town of Medya. During those four days, we got to know our group, PC staff, and learn about PC Morocco. The high point was definitely going to the beach and playing in the waves. In our staging we have two programs, Youth Development and Small Business Development. I’m in YD with 38 others and there are 29 in SBD. On the 18th, we found out who would be in our CBT (community based training) sites for the duration of training and who our LCF (language and cross cultural facilitator) would be. On the 19th, we left for our CBT sites and met our host families for the first time.
For security reasons, I’m not supposed to post the name of my CBT site so I will just refer to it as Fes since that is our hub site (where all the YD volunteers get together every two weeks). I have five site mates for training; Emily, Abby, Ross, Xavier and Margaret. The other five all live very close to our LCF’s house where we meet Monday through Saturday for language and cross cultural sessions. My family is slightly farther away but is related to Emily’s host family so we see a lot of each other. We have language Monday through Friday from 8:30 until 12:30. Then we have lunch together before doing cross cultural sessions and doing technical training. We go until about 6 each night. Only on Saturday do we finish early at 2. The first two weeks of language have been very intense and my biggest challenge will be pronunciation. It’s only week two so I’m not worried….. yet.
For technical training at this point, we have been going to the dar chabab (youth center) and doing different activities with groups there. We did a community map, seasonal calendar, and a formal interview so far. We were supposed to do daily activities as well but the group we met with were less than cooperative. It happens…. We have one more week of this first stage of technical training and then we begin stage two which is teacher training. A PCV will be coming to our CBT for a week to work with us on how to develop lesson plans, activities to do, etc. We will be very busy until the end of training!
One last note of the technical aspect of training; I will find out my permanent site on October 30th and will be going there for one week October 31st through November 6th. During that time, I will meet with my counterpart, see my host agency, get to know my town a little, and possibly meet my second host family. I will be required to live with a second host family until January 1st.
My host family in my CBT site is pretty awesome. I have a mom, Fatima, a brother, Karim, a sister, Nejwa, and another sister who isn’t really a sister but has lived here since she was 5, Amal. Everyone is very nice to me and Amal speaks some English which is very helpful! The house is very modest. There is a living room, kitchen, bathroom, open space and my bedroom. I feel kinda bad that I have the bedroom to myself and everyone else sleeps in the living room on the couches or on the floor. However, they wanted me to live with them knowing that so I guess I shouldn’t worry. We do have a Turkish toilet and I take shower baths when at home so it’s a bit different. I like my bucket baths though. My bed is more like a table its so hard. I’m getting used to it slowly. Food has been delicious and its always entertaining. Moroccans eat usually eat with their hands/bread rather than silverware. Food is served family style and people take a piece of their bread and dig in. I kinda like it more than eating with silverware but it’s a talent that I will have to develop.
So you can see that life is good so far and I’m adjusting to life here in Morocco. There are a lot of similarities between Albania but I will save those for a later post. Hope everyone is doing well and stay tuned for another update!

Monday, October 4, 2010

First Glimpses of Morocco

A few pictures to tide everyone over until I can get my blog up. For some reason, they do not have microsoft office in the internet cafe......

Everything is going well though. The language is difficult but I'm learning. Food is good. My host family is awesome and I'm loving it all so far.

Promise to put up new blog soon!