Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Thanks in Thanksgiving

When you think of Thanksgiving do you think of all the good food there is to eat or do you think of the people you'll eat the food with?  Do you think of the football games on t.v. or do you think about how lucky you are to be able to afford a t.v., electricity and cable?  Do you think about all the leftovers or the fact that you do not have to worry about what you will eat for the next few days??  Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for all that you have in your life.  With each passing year that I'm away from my family during the holidays, the importance of them becomes clearer to me.  This year I have so many things to be thankful for.

Our Thanksgiving feast; roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, string beans, Moroccan squash, cranberries and biscuits!
I'm thankful for; family and friends, PC and PCV's, a working computer, internet, my camera, external hard drive that entertains for hours, a house with no holes in the walls, real pillows, big coffee cups, American coffee, popcorn and cheesy popcorn topping, a dar chbab complete with amazing mudir, hard working students and enough electric sockets for all the new computers, living close to the ocean, camels on the beach, living close to a big city where I can let my hair down, being able to buy soy sauce and granola, people who understand sarcasm, the ability to laugh at situations that are frustrating, friendship scarves and necklaces, random phone calls from America, skype dates, care packages and letters, the #17 bus, Tuesday souq where I can buy a week of fruits and vegetables for under $4, big bakery where I can walk behind the counter, my nook, working headphones, unlimited free meds from PC, the phone plan, utorrent, media file exchanges, goats in trees, camel herds outside my town, sunny days with a gentle wind,  little kids that say 'hello', lightweight cardigans, movie nights, power and water 24/7 (usually), Fannie Fan McFanster, clothes that have survived Albania and Morocco, friendly people in Inzegane, homemade holiday decorations, sitemates, being able to sleep through the first call to prayer, msm and hrira, tie-dyed lizars, windows that are open in grand taxis, air conditioned buses, McDonalds in the Marrakech train station, online news sources, people who don't laugh at my baby Darija or Tashalheet, international sign language and pictures of all the wonderful people in my life!

I'm thankful for the company and food I had this year on Thanksgiving!
Last but not least, I'm thankful for you!!  Thanks for following me during this adventure and sending your support.  I hope that you had an amazing Thanksgiving and have just as many (if not more!) things to be thankful for.  Now it's time to break out the Christmas decorations and play all my favorite Christmas music.  This is indeed the most wonderful time of the year :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A is for America

A is for America, and all the conveniences that you find there
M is for movies and bowling and being able to go out all day long
E is for everything.  You can buy everything in America!
R is for relatives and friends who help you celebrate the important things like birthdays, baptisms, and holidays.
I is for information technology.  You can find whatever you need online.  Weird, huh?
C is for coffee, big, enormous, steaming cups of coffee, and cooking pork products at all times of the day
A is for America, my favorite country in the world.

About a week ago, I returned from a two week visit home.  It was absolutely wonderful.  America did not disappoint.  I had a great time catching up with family and friends, going out, dressing up, eating all sorts of marvelous foods, and just generally enjoying myself.  It made me realize that I'm starting to get to that point where I'm ready to be home for good.  I said starting to realize people!  I'm not coming home tomorrow or next month, but I am starting to look forward to going home after I finish this service.

Life in America is still pretty much the same as I remember it.  Sure there are a lot of new crazy contraptions out there but I'll figure them out some day (electric cigarettes; who knew?!).  I can still go to a store and find an entire aisle of just bread.  I can still go and have breakfast at 2 am or 5pm or anytime I feel like it.  Americans still drink coffee by the gallon.  America is just as amazing as I remember.

While I was home, my aunt threw me an early Thanksgiving dinner with all the classic dishes.  It made me realize how lucky I am to have a family to support me through all of my adventures.  I am very thankful for all that they've done for me over these past 3+ years with the PC.  All the care packages and cards and skype dates have helped me make it this far.  I am so lucky that they are and always will be my family.

There's so much more I could say about my trip home but I'll keep it short today.  Overall, great trip home and America is still awesome.  'Nuff said :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Another Reason Why I Love My Job

Just before I was about to leave for my trip to America, my kids at the dar chbab threw me an early birthday party.  One of my counterparts arranged for me to get henna in the morning before the party in the afternoon.  I had promised to bring brownies to the party and since I wasn't sure who else was bringing anything I was baking right up until my sitemate, Beth and I left to walk up to the dar chbab.  This is Morocco however and when there is a party, there are treats!

I shouldn't say I was surprised at the amount of treats that they brought but it made me feel really good that they took the time to bring things.  There were two cakes, numerous sodas and they even brought me presents!  I really hadn't even thought about if they would bring me presents or not.  I was really surprised at their generosity but then again it's Morocco and I should have known better.  After we sang happy birthday and I blew out the candles, I cut the cake and we all dug in.  Everything was so delicious!

After eating and digesting for a little bit, I opened the presents.  There was a candle holder, a framed piece of art and a really cute 6 piece coffee cup and saucer set.  We had gone shopping about a week earlier for a present for the mudir and they didn't want to talk about what to get me then but they had been secretly asking my opinion on things that they thought I might like.  They know how much I love coffee so they decided on the coffee cups.  I still can't get over the fact that they bought me presents at all.... the cakes themselves were present enough!

One of my cakes!!

It's little moments like this where I really love my job.  I can tell that I'm making connections with people in the community.  Two of PC's main goals is cultural exchange between Americans and host country nationals and I know that those goals are my favorite to work on.  In a community like this, it's hard not to love!  Just another reason why I do what I do :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Break a Leg!

Just over two weeks ago, the Acting Out Awareness group had their first official performance in Inzegane, a town about an hour north.  After months of rehearsals, changes in props and finally finishing the set, they were really ready to take on their first live audience.  We met up just after 8am to pack up the van and head up where we were greeted by the mudir and an assistant and treated to a Moroccan breakfast.  The Inzegane dar chbab staff seemed to be very interested in what we were doing and they were also eager to share what programs they have to offer their youth.  I was impressed with the information available at the dar chbab about AIDS.

Opening scene.... the little guy is the AIDS virus

There were already about 20 kids hanging out at the dar chbab when we arrived but not more than five minutes after we pulled up another 20 kids came running up.  As we were setting up and talking to the staff there, kids kept popping their heads into the room to see what we were up to.  I noticed several of them point at me and go "That's an American!"  I know what my part in this whole project is and if I can help out more just by being the American that every one comes to see and look at, fine by me.  By the time we were ready to start there were close to 60 kids in the room.  

Captive audience

The performance went perfectly except for one small flaw at the end.  There are these six boxes that they turn around to spell out an awareness slogan and they flipped the boxes around out of order.  A small mistake that they realized and fixed by the end.  As I was watching the kids in the audience watch them, I could tell that they were fully engaged in the performance and that they were getting the message.  They even got a standing ovation at the end!  No Moroccan activity is complete without dancing so there was a little dancing and a few games after we finished to fully round up the activity.  We also had a discussion with several members of a theater group at the Inzegane dar chbab to discuss how we could do joint projects in the future.  Everyone seemed pleased at the idea of working together and sharing resources.

Defeating the AIDS virus

This was just the first performance out of eight.  I think it went very well and the kids in the group were pleased with their performance.  It will be interesting to see how they improve over the next seven performances and see how many people will end up hearing their message.  These kids impress me every day by their dedication to this project.  I'm just happy that I can be a part of it.  The next six weekends will be the other performances most likely.  With that said, break a leg guys!

Some of the participants