Thursday, September 21, 2006


I saw that the Mets clinched. Let's go Mets!

Okay - some information today! They announced the groups for community-based training. First they announced the group that will be learning the Berber language. The current volunteers who have been visiting us all have positive experiences in the Berber region - but they all seem far away from just about everywhere else in Morocco, and a couple of them have REALLY cold winters - I hava had my share of those already. The Berber group also has the LCF (Language and Culture Facilitator) that I've had for language group this week - I love her, and I put on my questionnaire that I would be happy to continue with her. So when they announced what I thought was my name, I was happy. But it turned out that they called someone with a similar name, meaning I was going to be in an Arabic group. So I was happy. That's how you really know if you're happy either way!

I like the LCF for my group too, and the people in my group. There are five of us (the smallest group), all women, age range 22-mine, range from introvert to me or just beyond me (so far, anyway) - I think we'll all get along! We're going about half an hour away from here, to TimHdit, higher in the mountains - so it'll be colder. There's no internet cafe in the town so this could be it until I return here on October 1 (Happy Birthday PK!). But one person in the group is bringing her computer, so there might be internet access (as opposed to cafe...thanks to kind computer-lenders I have not been to one of those since Rabat, with the French keyboard). And who knows, my family might have a computer! We find out about our families tomorrow. I know they all have kids - they say it's great to learn from kids; they always want to talk and they want to learn from you.

So - someone's family member called and said it's too hard here and they should just come home. Was this family member the concerned parent of one of the newly-minted college grads? Was it the sons of the married couple in our group? No - it was the sister of one of the over-40 women! My sister! I called was nice to talk to her...and told her I am very happy here so far. It's not a resort, and it will certainly get harder, but so far it's great. Plus, I made a commitment. Plus, it's just been a little over a week! She told me I made a mistake saying I was flexible and that I should tell them I want electricity. I now think that by not being in the Berber group that I will have electricity, so that takes care of that. We have two more interviews and a site visit before we go to our final sites, and there are people who change sites.

There are also a lot of people who do leave. I don't know if I mentioned this before (if I am just read on) - the stage that's about to leave has eight out of 20 left. Some left during training, some were medically separated, some were administratively separated (i.e. kicked out) for breaking the rules, and at least one quit because he felt he wasn't accomplishing anything. I do hope to last the entire 27 months, but if I don't for some reason, that's what's meant to be. When people leave early for medical or family reasons they do have a chance to go somewhere else some other time - there are two people in the Youth Development group in that situation. One person in my group is the son of two people who met in the Peace Corps, one has a sister who did the Peace Corps, and there were others who had close family or friends go.
I wish I could remember the things I told my sister over the phone that I felt I should have put here...more when I do!

I just agreed to play Cranium, and it's our last night together, so I will say so long for a while!

Dear Sharon,
Thank you for calling. I was worried!
You were going to talk about how people dress.
I think it's time for me to pull out an atlas, so I can keep track of your whereabouts! Sounds like you're having a wonderful adventure. When you have a chance, tell us more about what it's like being a non-Muslim in a Muslim country, especially during Ramadan! Be well!
Aw, Pam... See how unrelentingly positive Sharon's sounding? No fair trying to drag her home until she starts sounding at least a little negative! Sure, we miss her, but she's out there having the experience of a lifetime! (I know I'm making light of it, but Sharon's a tough cookie. She'll do great. Don't worry 'bout your sis.)

I second the motion for a future blog post about what it's like being a non-Muslim in a Muslim country. My own experience doesn't count -- I was an obvious tourist. :)
Sharon - - this is the first time I've ever read a blog and so the first time I've ever replied to one as well. Hope you made it there safe and sound. I look forward to reading about your exciting adventures!
Joel S. (I hope you only know one Joel S)
I do have something about head covering in one of the handwritten entries, so I'll be brief - most women do seem to wear head covering but after that anything goes - there is some traditional wear but lots of western dress as well. Men seem to be majority western but some traditional. I did load some pictures on to a computer but not to this one - hopefully I can add some to the blog.

There's also a Ramadan entry. When I mentioned that on Yom Kippur one fasts for 24 hours, my LCF was shocked! I think that's much easier than fasting sunup to sundown for 29 straight days! It's new moon to new moon, so I find myself happy to see the moon waxing this week and will be even happier to see it wane. The five-times-a-day call to prayer is kind of nice to hear (it beats the dog barking outside my window all night long). As for other things, in a way it is cultural rather than religious, I think, so I will talk about more as it goes along. As for my not being a Muslim, not a problem - although some of the other people think their families are trying to convert them. What might be hard as we go along is convincing them that we're not tourists -e.g. not getting overcharged for things

And as for pulling out an Atlas, you might find Azrou but I don't know if you'll find TimHdit! (it's 32 K southeast, more in the mountains)

Aw, Jon, she's just worried about me; it's okay. It was a good excuse to call, and it was nice to call again this week!

And Joel, you are the only Joel S. I know, and you are not the first to say they are looking at a blog for the first time. It's my first time too, but it seemed like a good idea. Our generation getting into the blog! Text messages too, maybe...
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