Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I've received several documents via e-mail in the last few days - a surprise, since I didn't expect anything after the staging kit. The hard copy is going to my forwarding address. Good thing I am still looking at e-mail though! I don't know how many more days I'll be doing that. I think they maybe should have warned me to be on the lookout...but I'll just be glad I got them, not think about how this may bode. I had a questionnaire on language training - what I have done and what my expectations and attitudes are. I had a form to fill out so that my Moroccan host family can learn more about me. Some official things (reissue of the welcome letter, alcohol policy, absentee voting, recent carry-on baggage restrictions) and also some more information, called "Bridge to Pre-Service Training." I also spoke briefly with the Country Desk Manager and learned that there are 57 total people going to training together and a total of over 200 in the country. It's one of the largest in the Peace Corps. Other big ones in the Europe, Asia, Mediterranean region are Ukraine and Bulgaria, also with over 200.
So - when I get there it will be warm - 75-85 F. We'll take a bus from Casablanca (sounds like my favorite Police song - I should have had that put on the iPod!) where we'll meet everyone and have some time to rest (whew - I was wondering about that). We'll stay at a hotel in Rabat (where we can't go out on our own until we have been briefed on safety and security, get shots and do paperwork and meet with the medical staff and start cross-cultural training and the technical aspects of the job (in other words, a busy three days), and then on Friday go to technical training (seminar site), which for Small Business Development is Azrou, about two hours away from Rabat (I have to look that up - hmm, a quick google check makes it hard to tell. I have a paper map in my aforementioned tote bag). It's not clear when I'll be able to purchase a cell phone or get to an internet cafe, but it sounds as though I'll be able to when I get to the seminar site if not sooner.

The seminar site is at a higher altitude so the weather will get cool quickly (it was already getting cool in Chicago...but I hope it warms up again for you guys). At the seminar site, there will be experiential learning including language and cross-cultural. I'll be at an Auberge (I should google that too) and then after several days move to a Community-Based Training Site, where I will start living with a family in a small village somewhere within my region.

There'll be 5 or 6 of us at the Community-Based Training site. There I'll do language four to six hours a day and other "self-directed" (their quotation marks) learning,with local artisans! I'll go baack and forth to Azrou during this phase.
I'll get a site announcement at the end of October. I'll have a chance to visit the site. We'll gather as a group for the last week of training, for reflection, administrative things, final evaluations, and swearing in (November 24). We'll receive additional training throughout the two years.

There are more details, but those are the basics. I may or may not get to write another blog entry before I leave. Hard to believe that a week from today I will be in Morocco!

Incidentally, when I spoke to the Country Desk Manager tonight, she said she might ask everyone what's the most unusual thing they put in their suitcase, as an icebreaker. I guess for me it's the Princeton banner!

I just came across your journal about your invitation to Morocco. I added a link to your page to a database I collected of Peace Corps Journals and blogs:

Worldwide PC Blog Directory:

1. Contains over 1,600 journals and blogs from Peace Corps Volunteers serving around the world.
2. Official rules and regulations for current PCV online Journals and blogs. Those rules were acquired from Peace Corps Headquarters using the Freedom of Information Act.
3. The map for every country becomes interactive, via Google, once clicked on.
4. Contact information for every Peace Corps staff member worldwide.
5. Links to Graduate School Programs affiliated with Peace Corps, along with RPCVs Regional Associations.
6. And each country has its own detailed page, which is easily accessible with a possible slow Internet connection within the field.

There is also an e-mail link on every page. If you want to add a journal, spotted a dead link, or have a comment.

Thanks for volunteering with the Peace Corps!

-Mike Sheppard
RPCV / The Gambia (’03-’05)
Mike - thanks for including me in the database! I feel honored to be a part of it (and of the Peace Corps). I'm new to blogging so it's exciting to get comments and links!
Hi! I just got your letter, and I figured I'd wave hello across the bitstream. I'm not so great with the paper letters -- except once per year, as you well know, and you will of course still get a copy -- but I've been pretty reliable about following friends' blogs and occasionally posting. So hopefully I'll contribute to the keep-Roon-in-touch-with-her-homeland project in this way.

Sounds like one of the most intense parts of the 27 months is coming up. Good luck!

I'm sure this is going to be an incredible and intense experience for you. Your friends are cheering you on -- that's us, the wimps who are too wimpy to do it ourselves, but at least we can be your personal cheering squad. :)
Thanks, Jon! You're the first friend to post a comment (I think people of my vintage are not comfortable with blogging - or with text messaging, which is also a possible way to get in touch with me!).

At the end of staging today, we all got in a circle and were welcome to share thoughts. What I shared was that when I decided to do this I thought my friends would think it was crazy - and certainly some of them did - but, much to my surprise, I was surprised to learn that to others I am an inspiration. So I just reminded everyone that we ARE an inspiration, not only to the people we will help in Morocco but also to each other and to our support team back home. Thanks for reinforcing that!
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