“ . . . An object in motion remains in motion, and at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by a force.”
–Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion
Over the past 16 days I have been on a total of 8 long-distance buses, 2 trains, 10 grand taxis, and 4 tramways, not to mention the countless city buses and petit taxi rides I’ve also taken. I’ve traveled a total distance of 2,745 kilometers (or 1,705 miles in America speak). Needless to say I’m feeling pretty well traveled at the moment—and also pretty exhausted. But as goes Sir Newton’s First Law of Motion, it looks as if I’ll be staying this way for a little while longer . . .
But first, let’s back up a bit. The last time I posted I was telling you all about my week at Spring Camp in my boyfriend Jared’s site. The following week, myself and my new site mate Vince, hosted our own Spring Camp at the dar chebab in El Borouj. All in all, I consider it to have been a success, albeit with a few hiccups here and there. But it was a really great experience for Vince and I to plan our first camp and to work with a local Moroccan association called ANEC to implement it.
Shortly after camp, I began my second INJAZ program called “It’s My Business.” It was a 6-week program meant to teach 14-17 year olds about the fundamentals of business and to inspire them to seek out their inner-entrepreneur. Unfortunately because I had to wait so long to get the materials I needed to implement the program, we were forced to squeeze the 6-week program into two weeks. Luckily, I was fortunate enough to have an amazing and determined counterpart (my friend Nabila) and we were able to complete the program on time and to great success. A total of 19 students received their certificates of completion and overall, I received very positive feedback from the participants.
This was supposed to be the final INJAZ program that I would be piloting in El Borouj however, PC recently asked me and seven other PCVs to pilot another program called “Company Program” next fall. This will be a 16 week program (the longest yet!!) during which students will actually create their own product/service and at the end of the 16 weeks compete in a competition to sell their business plan. I’m already looking forward to starting! And finally, PC has promised me that at some point in the coming months we will finally be hosting a training for other PCVs interested in doing INJAZ programs in their sites. Obviously I’m very excited to finally have the opportunity to share this wonderful program with other volunteers so that they can inspire their students to use critical thinking and to be creative.
At the same time that I was implementing the final week of the INJAZ program, my mom and sister arrived in Morocco. They came immediately here to El Borouj and spent a very busy four days meeting my host family, friends, mudir, and students and eating a ridiculous amount of Moroccan food. But they handled it like pros and I was very happy that they were willing to let me drag them around El Borouj and manage their very busy schedule. Despite having had the true Moroccan experience in my town, I think we were all relieved when it was time for us to leave for Casablanca and begin our travels. We met my Aunt Sue and cousin Stephanie in Casa and together the five of us traveled to Fez, Chefchaouen, Rabat, and Marrakesh. It was an event-packed week and a half and I was so happy to get to share this beautiful country with them. Of course, traveling in a country like Morocco with five people doesn’t come flawlessly. It took a lot of guidance on my part and a lot of patience on theirs (that is patience in dealing with me when I would get angry at taxi drivers for trying to cheat us).
On the 23rd of May I dropped them off at the airport and went straight to my Peace Corps regional meeting at the quiet beach town of Oualidia. While the meeting itself wasn’t that exciting, it’s always nice to get to spend time with other volunteers and to do it beach-side didn’t hurt either! After leaving the meeting two days later, I went straight to a town called Sidi Ifni which was 520 kilometers (329 miles) south of Oualidia. It was Jared’s 27th birthday and a big group of volunteers in his region had decided that this Spanish-built surfer’s paradise would be a good place to spend it. It was a lovely weekend and we got to explore the cute town and the famous Legzira beach which is known for its natural rock archways.
After being gone for what seemed like an eternity I returned to Borouj, but only for six days. Then it was off to Rabat for my Mid-Service Medical exam. (As volunteers, we get to see a doctor and dentist at the mid-point and the end of our service for regular checkups.) Now I’m back in Borouj, but yep, you guessed it—not for long. This coming Friday I’ll be headed to Marrakesh to speak at the In Service Training for the new group of volunteers. Then on Monday I’m off to Europe for two weeks.
It’s crazy because I remember back to January and February when I was dying to be busy and now that I am, I feel like I could use a good week to just sit around and relax. You always want what you can’t have, right? But I guess I prefer this to doing nothing. Somehow sitting around and doing nothing in the Peace Corps is much more difficult than doing nothing in the US. For one, there are so many more things to do in the US when you are bored (movie theaters, coffee shops, malls, libraries, bars, etc.—none of which we have here in El Borouj, with the exception of the coffee shop but you all know that those are mostly for men). Also, when I’m alone here in Morocco and have nothing to do I miss my family and friends more than anything, and then I wonder what I’m doing here, and I start to think too much, and boredom just turns into this downward spiral of misery. And finally, one can’t help but to think that the reason one has joined the Peace Corps is to do something. So sitting around doing nothing gives most volunteers the feeling that they’re wasting their time and won’t ever make the difference that they were hoping to make. So like I said, I’d prefer to be busy than not, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t waiting for the calm after the storm. I’m sure mine will be coming someday, Inch’allah, I just don’t know when.
It’s funny, volunteers say that in the Peace Corps, days go by slow but the weeks go by fast. And now as I feel my life in motion, I can’t help but know the idiom to be true.