Monday, November 27, 2006


I am officially a Peace Corps Volunteer! As predicted, it was a whirlwind, and there's lots to write about. I'll start with swearing-in and move forward and backward, eventually, inshallah.

Swearing-in was Friday morning. We dressed in the finest that we had brought with us and took buses to the Hotel Merinides in Fes. Fes is a big city that I look forward to going back to, perhaps as soon as this weekend (massage and highlighting...not to mention the medina is a UNESCO World Heritage site - shopping - restaurants - etc.). The families were waiting for us on the terrace overlooking the swimming pool and the vista of the city. Except that there was nobody there from TimHdit! I had a chance to meet some other people - someone from USAID and his wife, who works for the embassy. We then went upstairs into a cozy meeting room, podium at the front, YD on one side, SBD on the other side, staff-families-guests in the audience. The Country Director welcomed everyone and gave an inspiring speech; I've asked for a copy of it so I can refer to it as I go through the inevitable ups and downs. The Wali (sp?) of Fes then welcomed us and reminded us of how much the Peace Corps menas to the country of Morocco. Then the ambassador spoke - and he was great. He had a sly smile as he mentioned that this was his favorite moment, because the Country Director never knew what he was going to do. In the past he has googled people, found facts about their home of record or done other things, some successfully and some not. He had us all stand and announced that he has written The Night Before Swear-in, with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore. As he mentioned everyone either by first name, last name or city of record, we were supposed to sit, and if it worked we would all be sitting down by the end. It was neat hearing everyone's name and watching them sit. I must get a copy! The top Tamazight speaker from SBD spoke, and one of the top Darija speakers from YD spoke. And then we stood, raised our right hands and the Ambassador swore us in! The oath itself is somewhat dated, but the ceremony of becoming a PCV was moving. I felt like moving my tassel or throwing my mortarboard!

Afterwards, we moved to the Grand Ballroom to shake hands with the VIPs, hear music performed by a band wearing fezzes (finally!) and have hot and cold hors d'oervres. Among the guests (so it was okay that my TimHdit family wasn't there) were Tara, the SBD volunteer in Azrou who was here in 2003 and was evacuated, and her fiancee John, an environment volunteer who was in Azrou at the same time. They were so nice and it was so nice to talk to them!

The reception was over all too quickly and then we went back to our final seminar site for an afternoon and evening of, depending on the person, quiet reflection and a walk around the town, cards, napping (someone in the room's alarm went off at 5:00 am for no reason), packing, or over-the-top revelry. I'll leave it to you to figure out which of the above I did. Nah, I'll tell you - all but the napping and the napping and the revelry.

Pictured: Rose (aka Sultan), the ambassador, the Wali of Fes and the Country Director. I have a picture of me with the Peace Corps flag but was afraid that might be unauthorized use of logo!
Must find a photocopie place now. Much more to come.

Hooray! And congratulations!
By the way, Edie - balance of matter - this week my host family is putting up a new wall in their home, just as you are tearing one down!
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