Monday, December 11, 2006


Chicken soup, chicken soup, wherefore art thou chicken soup? When I bought those herbal remedies last week I thought, oh, I haven't really been sick. So today I'm all achey. Had tutoring this morning and then went home for a nap (and to hang laundry). I just now came from a meeting with my counterpart (we can't do the phone call and visit we were going to do today so I will come back tomorrow) and I stopped by the rock shop to congratulate the carver on selling more than anyone else at the fair in Rabat (he wasn't there so I will try tomorrow) so as long as I'm up...

On to the whirlwind last few days of training. I’m still trying to figure out why it felt so strange – the atmosphere of Immouzer, the chemistry of being all together, the knowledge that in a few days we would be off to our sites?
The first day was getting there, settling in (as best we could), giving our presentation and seeing the YD presentation. It was interesting to see what they do. Working with the Dar Shebabs, they teach English both straightforwardly and with a variety of games, songs, theatre. They also teach life lessons, I think. Interesting – it looks like fun, but I am glad to be doing what I am going to be doing.

The next day, the Tour de Maroc came through town. I’m sorry I missed it! I have always thought it would be fun to see the Tour de France, but to see something go by so quickly seems silly to go out of your way for. However, if it comes to you that’s a different story. Anyway, I missed it. Maybe next year it will go through my town – now that I know there is one. Morocco has some famous long-distance races – I should look into those. I saw the space shuttle the other day and have always wanted to see a launch, too – how many more of those will there be? Tour de Maroc aside – I got my bike. When the environment person came out last week she brought it. I was hoping not to get it while still with the host family because it’s more clutter. I don’t think I’ll use it at all this winter (I was never a winter rider). And I don’t know hw much I will use it at all – the hill is a hill, which I’m not used to, and it also has a lot of traffic, which I’m not used to. It might be nice to bike out to the rural communities I’ll be working with and then not be dependent on transport – and I think it’s flatter to get there, albeit still with traffic. It also appears that there might be nice recreational rides around here – haven’t even been for a run yet though. The bikes are nice Treks from the states.

We had some sessions that were repeats of what we had been told in Rabat while we were jet-lagged – I do remember that they told us they would be telling us again, and I remembered most of what they had told us the first time. Emergency Action Plan (in case of unrest, natural disaster or other unlikely occurrences), Policies and Procedures, sexual assault, administration, IT rules.

And some new sessions. One was on diversity. We had already had a diversity session that smacked to me of federal mandate (I thought of Ozzie Guillen undergoing diversity training) but this one turned out to be so interesting that I will write more about it. We had a Butagas video featuring my predecessor here, who almost died because he didn’t leave a window open and the gas used up all the oxygen in the room (the video was a little creepy and in it his apartment didn’t look all that nice!). And we had a presentation by the Volunteer Support Network, some PCVS who have been trained in active listening (I want the training) so that if anyone needs someone to talk to they can call someone on the VSN list. As part of that session, we had a chance to reflect 0 one thing we will take from training, a funny story, one thing we are most looking forward to and least, what’s the first thing we will cook in our own apartments, things like that. We got together in groups – had to be some SBDs and some YDs, had to be not everyone in your CBT group – and it was very interesting, perhaps one of the most enjoyable sessions (I like lists and I have year-end awards already, so this is my kind of thing. Those are coming up! I have a lot of awards to think about!).

And there were walks through town, card games , and Thanksgiving dinner. The person who volunteered himself to do it did a great job of coordinating and there were plenty of people who volunteered to help. I helped with the stuffing the day before and then with getting the burned part off of the stuffing the next day as well as with plating salads. The dinner was everything you could have asked for – turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, green beans, salad, chocolate chip cookies, apple crisp, pumpkin bars, fresh fruit. I stuffed myself in a way I haven’t since I’ve been here, and it was worth it! It was also a really nice way to end training, since it was the night before swearing-in. The environment and health people, whose stage is March through May, don’t have a similar sendoff dinner. This one ranked right up there with any of the great Thanksgiving dinners of my life, and it was nice to be with all of my new friends for it and to have helped behind the scenes. Here is a stuffing shot of Rob, Connie and me.

Hard to believe we left the United States three months ago today! I think the 11th is a good anniversary to celebrate, though I may start counting from swearing-in...

RE: Active Listening- Is it snowing?
RE: Bikes? standard PCV gear?
Not snowing yet in Azrou - yes, in other sites. Bike is standard unless you day you don't want one. They used to give out motorcycles and it turned out that the biggest cause of accidents among PCVs was motorcycles...not sure about other countries.
And to Beth - I received an e-mail with your comment but can't find where you posted it, so I am answering it here. All the best to you and the family - keep me posted on the next corporate America move. Congratulations or condolences?
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Boy do I feel guilty. I'm getting over a stomach bug and made myself a big pot of chicken soup! I just sat down with a bowl and started to catch up on your blog. I wish I could share it with you!

Happy Chanukah,
Don't feel guilty! Enjoy your chicken soup! (of course, chicken soup often comes with a side of guilt).
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