Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Finding My Footing

When you first get to your site as a PCV, it can be extremely difficult to find your place. Once you swear in, you no longer have someone from PC to hold your hand every step of the way. It is entirely up to you to figure out what to work on and with whom. Now of course, they give you a little push to help in the beginning. When you receive your site placement, they include a partner organization, a supervisor and a brief idea of what type of projects to work on in your site. This by no means is the only place you'll be working or the only type of projects you'll be working on. Many PCV's want to get a running start when they get to site and because they don't really know what to do, they wear themselves out very fast.

I arrived in "Mango" about two weeks ago and during these past two weeks I have been focusing on studying Darija, meeting anyone who comes to my host family's house, and taking the time to get to know anyone who I end up interacting with while they help me apply for my carte de sejour, or help me in the hanut while I'm trying to act out what I'm looking for (it was a sponge). Until yesterday, I felt pretty invisible in site. That is to say, I felt like I walked the streets and only got attention because people recognized I am not Moroccan. Yesterday, however, people actually came up to me on the street to say hi and I knew who they were. Going from not knowing anyone of the street to greeting six people in one day made me feel like I'm starting to make my place in site.

I contribute that mainly to going to my host mom's association the past two Sundays. My host mom (who is awesome) is the president of an association called "Golden Fingers". They teach school age children music every Sunday. The best part of the association in my opinion is that high school and university students run the classes. I was overwhelmed by how responsible and focused the teachers are. My amazement didn't end there though, the kids who attend on Sunday also participate in teaching and leading the songs. There was one girl, I'm guessing she was probably 13, was playing the drum and she got up and lead several songs by herself. I've enjoyed getting to know the teachers and some of the students from the association and look forward to participating in their activities.

A few of the PCV's from my staaj started teaching December 1st and I have yet to start anything yet. However, I met my first group of students last Saturday. They are in their first year of English and I will be co-teaching with a university student. Another group I will start teaching this week is the teachers from my host mom's association. In two days, I went from having no students to having 12. My host mom and several other women who help with the association would also like to learn some English so there's my 3rd class.

My time in site is getting better and better by the day. Beth, my sitemate, and I were invited to Sidi Wassay last Saturday for a seafood lunch on the beach. A French woman who live's in Beth's neighborhood drove us out to the camping site where the man who helped Beth find her apartment worked. We spent four hours on the beach, enjoying the weather, getting to know some new friends and eating a delicious and free lunch. The owner invited us back out for another lunch and told us we can stay there as well. You better believe come summer I will be there a lot!

I think it's safe to say that I am finding my place. I am making friends, finding work and getting a feel for what type of secondary projects would be possible. I'm not waking up in the morning now thinking "what am I going to do today?". When I wake up now its "what should I do first?". I'm reminded of the book "Three Cups of Tea". The author makes a statement which goes something like this, "The first cup of tea, you are a stranger. The second cup, you are a friend. The third cup, you are family." I've been doing my fair share of tea drinking but I'll take another one now please :)