Monthly Archives: June 2012

3 Months In: What Goes Up Must Come Down

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Hello my faithful readers!! And I’m sorry it’s been so long since my last post. About one month to be exact.  Anyway, four days ago I hit the 3 month milestone of my stay here in Morocco. Which also means that I have less than 2 years left (but who’s counting???). In the grand scheme of the 26 months that I’ll be here, 3 months is surely not a lot, however this milestone may be one of the most important because it means that not only did I survive my first two months of training (intensive language courses, intense host families, and intense food eating . . . . . . phew!) but that I have also now been in my final site for a whole month. According to what I like to call the “Peace Corps Emotional Rollercoaster” (side note: PC does actually publish a chart of what this is supposed to look like), I am now supposed to be hitting a difficult time in my service. Why you may ask, is Martha Mountain (self-titled roller coaster), on the descent? While I’m sure each PCV has his or her own reasons for feeling a tad low at this point, I can personally say that it’s because everything has suddenly slowed down.

When I first arrived in site I was living with my host family, trying to spend time and get to know them, while also frantically running all over town and meeting with local officials to introduce and register myself, trying to find an apartment, and in general just figuring out how things work here in Borouj. Luckily with the help of my site mate Liz, I was able to very quickly find an apartment. Over the preceding weeks, Liz and I moved all of her furniture into my new apartment (it was decided that she would move in with me until she has her Close of Service (COS) in October). I also attended a Peace Corps Regional Meeting for 3 days where I met all of the other new and current PCVs who are in my region. Finally, we had a special visit to our site by the director of Peace Corps Morocco, Peggy, who brought along with her a woman from Peace Corps headquarters in DC, a woman from USAID, and a man from the White House Office of Management and Budget. I’m pretty sure they were doing some sort of audit of PC but nevertheless we got an amazing opportunity to show them around our town and our dar chebab and finally to talk to them about past and future projects. I was super excited for their visit because it meant that I would have an opportunity to rub some shoulders with people who might help me to achieve future project goals. It also meant that my idea to build a computer lab in our dar chebab had to evolve from an idea into a project plan very quickly. So as you can see, these past few weeks were pretty crazy, albeit, stressful at times. But as most of you know, I thrive under the pressure (remember all those late nights I spent writing papers the night before they were due . . . . sorry Mom and Dad!), sometimes I almost think that I need it to do well.

So now that all of the initial adjusting is over I’ve finally had some time to sit and relax and really think about my next two years here. Maybe too much time to sit and think to be honest. My site mate Liz has only been gone from site for a few days now and already I’ve been feeling terribly alone. I thought that I would be looking forward to this alone time (since I haven’t had more than 20 minutes of alone time since I got to this country) but somehow I haven’t been enjoying it as much as I thought I would. I’m sure most of you are wondering why I have nothing to do now and the answer is because it’s summer. Just like in the United States, life slows down here over the summer; particularly in inland cities where it is very hot (like Borouj). The dar chebab where I would normally work will be closed for all of August, the Nedi Neswi (the women’s association) will be closed starting mid-July and the other associations in town that do activities with youth will be heading out-of-town for their own summer camps. So needless to say, that while there are some people who will still be in Borouj, there won’t be many.

Luckily I’ll be leaving on Sunday to work for two weeks at a PC-sponsored summer camp in a city called El Jadida which is on the beach (yayyyyyyy beach!!!) Then I’ll be back in Borouj for the last two weeks of July (and what I predict will be a very, very, very hot time) and then I’ll head back to El Jadida for all of August to work at another camp called SOS Village. So summer should actually be pretty exciting. I’m really excited at the opportunity to see other PCVs, to explore a new city, and also to finally have the chance to work with a large group of kids every day. I’m hoping that it will make me even more pumped up for my return to Borouj in the fall and give me lots of ideas for activities I can do with the kids in my town.

So why, you’re asking again, am I feeling a tad lonely, when I have all of these amazing things coming up? To be honest I can’t give you a great answer except to say that I’m super impatient. I want everything to happen right now and get bored after even a few days of down time. What I’ve also come to learn is that Peace Corps is definitely not an organization for followers. It’s for leaders and more importantly, self-starters.  When we arrive in site PC recommends that we teach English classes at our dar chebab however, this is only supposed to give us something to do until we can kick ourselves into gear and start planning larger projects. Many PCVs do end up teaching English classes for their full two years, in order to fill a need in the community, but ultimately as Youth Development volunteers (Education is a completely different sector in PC) we are expected to do these sorts of larger projects which actually “develop” youth. PC provides us with all kinds of resources to give us ideas about what to do in our community as well as opportunities to apply for grants, but ultimately it’s up to us to talk to people in our community to find out what they want/need and then figure out how to implement it. Not an easy task at all, but nevertheless, that is our job.

So for now, during summer time, I am stuck in an awkward kind of limbo where I want to get started working on projects in my community, but since so much will be closed this summer (hence why I decided to sign up for camps) I won’t really get to start on that until September. This means that sadly, I’m feeling a tad useless for the time being, and as a result, homesick. . . . . But this summer should really be a good time to have some fun, do some good work, and get really charged up for what is to begin when I hit the 6 month mark.

So for now dear readers, stay tuned for updates about what it’s like to work at camps on the Moroccan coast, how it will be to live/work in my town while it’s 110 degrees outside, and how I’m preparing for the (hopefully) busy schedule that I’ll have in the fall. As the Moroccans say, “shwiya b’shwiya,” which means “little by little.” If I can remember that, I’ll be good until I hit the 26 month mark.