Wednesday, February 15, 2012


At the end of last month, I was fortunate enough to attend another volunteers GGLOW camp in Tazenakht (about an hour and a half west of Ouarzazate).  GGLOW stands for Guys and Girls Leading Our World.  At this particular camp, there were 37 girls in attendance, several local men and 8 local women who helped lead activities alongside PCV's.  Sessions touched on topics like, goals, project management, health, physical fitness and Women's rights in Morocco.  It was a huge success and I'm so proud of my girl Aly for pulling it off!

Conga line!!
The Group

The GGLOW camp made me think about things I could do in my site.  Tazenakht is quite a bit bigger than where I am and I don't think I would be able to manage an overnight camp for girls in my area.  However, I do have an amazing mudir who is willing to back me up with all my ideas.  There are also several women in my site who I believe would be willing to take on leadership roles for a daytime activity.  With that said, I have come up with the following project outline for a week's worth of International Women's Day events.

On Wednesday March 7th, women will be invited to the dar chbab for a few hours of fun where they can learn about different home beauty care products.  Facial mask made out of yogurt and mint.  Feet and hand scrub made out of yogurt and sugar.  It will be a fun day to start off the week.  On March 8th, the official International Women's Day, women will gather to watch the video You Can Dream and discuss the issues addressed in the film.  Issues such as girls' education, discrimination in the workplace and Women's rights.  On March 9th, a local doctor will come to the dar chbab to talk to the women about diabetes and heart health.  These two issues are a huge problem for women in Morocco and many do not seek out medical treatment as they usually do not know they have either problem.  To end the week, we will gather to have an aerobics class and end it all with what else but a dance party!

I think it will be a great week for women to have a reason to gather outside of each other's houses and learn a few things in the process.  The great thing about doing this as daytime activities is that no funding is really required.  I will be asking local business owners if they would like to donate tea or cookies for the activities and if nothing else, I will buy it for them.  This is something simple that I can do for the women of my community.  I'm looking forward to the event and have been busily getting things together for it.  Fingers crossed that all goes well!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Little Valentine's Day Cheer

Happy Valentine's Day to all!  I found this on the National Peace Corps Association today and thought it hit the nail on the head so to speak and wanted to share with everyone.  Enjoy!

12 Reasons to Date a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer
By: Erica Burman

It’s Valentine’s Day!  A day when we celebrate friendship, love, and romance.  Through the years here at the National Peace Corps Association, we’ve heard countless stories of Peace Corps romance.  The couples that met at the airport on the way to training.  The couples that met while serving. The Peace Corps Volunteers that fell in love with a host country national.  And the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers that connected back here in the States, discovering that the shared bond of Peace Corps service was the spark that led to a relationship.
Peace Corps is a life-changing experience that develops a unique set of skills and attributes.  So it goes without saying:  Returned Peace Corps Volunteers make GREAT dates.  And just to prove it, we’ve started a list.
12 reasons to date a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer:
  1. We can woo you in multiple languages. Who else is going to whisper sweet nothings to you in everything from Albanian to Hausa to Quechua to Xhosa? That’s right. Only a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.
  2. We’re pretty good dancers. Yeah, we don’t like to brag, but after 27 months in Latin America or Africa we know how to move it.
  3. We’ll eat anything. Seriously. No matter how bad your cooking, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers have had worse and will eat it with nary a blink. Sheep’s eyeball? Water buffalo gall bladder? Grasshoppers? Bush rat? Bring it.
  4. We know all about safe sex, thanks to our very thorough Peace Corps health training. In fact, there’s a chance that we’ve stood unblushingly in front of hundreds of villagers and demonstrated good condom technique with a large wooden phallus.
  5. We’ll kill spiders for you. Well, actually, we’ll nonchalantly scoop them up and put them out of sight.  Same goes for mice, geckos, frogs, snakes. Critters don’t faze Returned Volunteers.
  6. We have great date ideas: wandering a street market, checking out a foreign film, taking in a world music concert, volunteering…. Romantic getaway? Our passport is updated and our suitcase is packed. With us, life is always an adventure.
  7. We like you for “you”… not your paycheck. Especially if we are freshly back from service, a local joint with “character” will win out over a pretentious eatery.  Living in a group house? Does it have running hot water? What luxury!
  8. You won’t get lost when you’re with a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. Navigating local markets on four continents, we’ve honed an uncanny sense of direction. Or else we’ll ask for directions. We’re not afraid to talk to “strangers.”
  9. Waiting for a late train or bus? Don’t worry, we’ve been there, done that. We can share lots of funny stories about “the bus ride from hell” that will make the time go quickly and put it all into perspective.
  10. Our low-maintenance fashion style. Returned Peace Corps Volunteer guys are secure in their manhood and don’t mind rocking a sarong. Women often prefer flip flops to high heels. We don’t spend hours in front of a mirror getting ready to go out.
  11. Marry us, and you won’t just get one family — you’ll get two! When we refer to our “brother” or “mom,” you’ll want to be certain we’re talking about our American one or our Peace Corps one. You might even get two wedding ceremonies, one in the U.S. and one back in our Peace Corps country.
  12. And last but not least, we aren’t afraid to get dirty.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I speak Peace Corps

With a new group of trainees heading to Morocco next month, I thought I would post on Peace Corps acronyms.  For any of you who have yet to make it to your PC country, do not be overwhelmed.  Even to many experienced PCV's the following will make no sense.  Be ready to hear acronyms thrown at you all the time.  You're about to be a PCT living in a CBT with a LCF.  Give it time and it will all become clear.  For current PCV's and RPCV's, see if you can follow along...

Congratulations!  You’ve been invited to PC/M!  Until you arrive in country you will communicate with PC/W.  Don’t let the PSQ’s stress you out.  Upon arriving in country you’ll meet the TM and the TA who will manage your PST.  You’ll spend the next 10 weeks with your fellow PCT’s learning the language with your LCF and HCN’s so that you can pass your LPI at the end of PST.  You’ll be living in a CBT with a host family and a LCF and travel to HUB several times during PST.  The HSC will match you with your host family prior to leaving orientation.  Before leaving for your CBT the CD will tell you about the PC/M program and the SSC will give you a general overview of safety in PC/M.  Also, the PTO along with the TM and the TA will go over the PST schedule.  PST may seem like a long time but you will also go through PPST, IST, MSM and COS before becoming a RPCV.  Unless you ET of course.  During PST you will learn about being a YD PCV and TEFL.  During your service you will most likely also do projects that an ENV, HE or SBD PCV would do as well.  Whenever you have questions you can reach out to your RM or the RCM can get you supplies from ICE.  You won’t learn about grant opportunities like PCPP or SPA until PPST.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  You still have to learn about VAC, GAD, VSN and WWS.    The FA needs to explain how you will get your money and how to handle reimbursements.  If you need a bike and helmet in your final site you’ll have to talk to the GSO.  If you ever have an emergency call the DO.  Once you have completed PST and passed your LPI you will swear in as a PCV.  Not to worry you but at the end of your service you will write a DOS with all your projects on it before COSing.  For now, just enjoy being a PCT and the excitement of being a PCV soon and a RPCV in the future!

To sum up, you are a PCT living in a CBT with HCN’s and a LCF going through PST so that you can pass your LPI and swear in as a PCV.  Your TM, TA, RM, LCF, CD, AO, PTO, FA, GSO, HSC, SSC, PCMO, DO, and RCM are there to help you with questions, comments and concerns.  You just have to make it through PST, PPST, IST, MSM and COS before writing a DOS with your YD, SBD, ENV, HE, TEFL, PCPP and SPA projects on it before become a RPCV.  Got it?  Good!   

If that didn't confuse you give these sentences a try!

The PTO called me to go to PST to talk to the PCT's about the VRF but I have to go to IST to talk to the PCMO about GAD and the CD wants me to talk to VSN because I've been having a hard time in site with several HCN's and my VAST grant is stressing me out!

The CD said that at IST we'll find out about PCPP, VAST and SPA but my RM said to ask the PTO if we'll talk about the new OOC policy and I'm sure the PCMO will come to give us our flu shots but the AO is on AL and won't be coming.  

Understand?  Even from PC country to country some of the acronyms change so don't be alarmed if you're a PCV serving in another country and didn't understand all of this.  If you got all of this, you just passed another LPI!  You speak Peace Corps fluently :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

On my Way to Timbuktu

Last week I went on my first camel trek in the desert.  It was amazing and the sights were breath taking.  I can't begin to explain it in words so here are a few pictures to show you what it was like. 

One of the camels in our caravan

Me on my camel and Jack's camel all up in my business

Lead the way camel man!

Camel footprints

It just keeps going and going

Shadow picture



Doing yoga during the sunrise

Sun's up, time to go!

Doing the macarena as we trek back to Merzouga

It was so tranquil out there!