Since my last blog post, lots has happened here in Morocco, including learning where we will live permanently as of April 2nd. On Monday our entire group of trainees (95 people) gathered at a hotel in Meknes for HUB trainings for three days, followed by the extremely exciting Site Announcement. Thomas and I learned yesterday that we are placed in the southeast region of Morocco, in a town of about 20,000 people. It’s a major change in climate from where we have been these first three months. We will be slightly north of the Sahara desert, and quite a long way from Rabat (12 hours by bus), where PC Headquarters are located. While many people in the region speak Darija, the Tamizijht language is also spoken in this part of Morocco, so we will learn two languages over the course of our time there.
I have to admit that when I first heard where we were going, I felt a bit crestfallen as I have greatly enjoyed the greenness and temperate climate of northern Morocco. All I really knew about southeastern Morocco was that summer temperatures could be quite oppressive (aka, stay-indoors-during-the-day HOT). But within a few hours of being told where we were going we had the chance to talk with several PC staff and volunteers who are from the area, and they all expressed how wonderful the people are in southern Morocco. They also all shared that volunteers in this region often do really interesting projects within their communities, and that volunteers can readily see how their work positively impacts people. The two current PC volunteers in our town are a married couple, Samantha and Dan. They end their service in a week, so came to Meknes yesterday to meet us and tell us about the work they have done and what life is like in the town. It was really, really nice to hear about their experience in the southeast, and to learn that while it does indeed get stay-in-doors-during-the-day HOT during the summer, there are good ways to manage the heat. Sam and Dan also said that because the southeast is so far from Rabat, where PC volunteers need to go regularly for trainings, they have had much more opportunity to travel within Morocco than some volunteers in the northern parts of the country.
Additionally, Sam and Dan let us know they have left lots of household items (including a bed and a washing machine!) for us to have. I feel terribly fortunate to be replacing them in the town, and to know that we can very likely build upon some of the work they have started. Sam and Dan were both involved with the two nedi neswis (women’s centers) in the town, as well as the local Dar Takafa (House of Culture) that hosts all sorts of activities for community members.
Next week Thomas and I will travel to our site for five days to start getting to know the community. After that we return to our current community for the last two weeks of training before we are ‘sworn in’ as official PC Volunteers on April 2nd. Amazing how quickly time is now going! I speak for us both in saying we are very eager to finish up training and then settle into our new community and get to work!
Until next time, may you all be well!