Week One of Service

We trainees at JFK, about to fly to Morocco.
We trainees at JFK, about to fly to Morocco.

It is Sunday evening here in Morocco, and Thomas and I arrived at our Community Based Training (CBT) site earlier this afternoon.  We will be here for the next 11 weeks.  The past week was spent at a large hotel-resort in another part of Morocco where Peace Corps provided us with massive amounts of information related to what our service will be like.  The week also included medical reviews and vaccines for rabies–what a thrill, right??  As well, we had some initial ‘crash-course’ language and culture lessons by a Language and Culture Facilitator (LCF).  Thomas and I are in a group of four people with an LCF named Theo (Theo being the ‘American’ name we gave him at his request).  The other two members of our group, Veronica and Thia, are both lovely young women, and we seem to all be equally motivated to learn as much as we can during our CBT.  The five of us are all living in the same town, but with different host families.  We will meet daily to work towards established competencies and goals that Peace Corps has outlined for us.  At the end of CBT we will be tested on our language competency before being sworn in as official Peace Corps Volunteers.

Because of security concerns, Peace Corps has told us that blogs should not include the names of towns in which volunteers are living.  What we can share is that our CBT site is in northern Morocco, in a smaller town of about 10,000 people.  Although it was quite rainy on our trip here, the town and surrounding area looks very beautiful, with lots of lush green fields and unusual looking vegetation, as well as lots of livestock (on the drive we saw cows, sheep, goats and donkeys–we even had a donkey transport our baggage from the town square to where we are staying!).

The town we are in has had a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) living here the last two years, but she will be returning to the US in March.  She met us as soon as we arrived and shared about how much she loves the town and its residents.  And although we have not yet met any residents other than our host families, we are already quite smitten with the family we are staying with.  Our family includes a woman around my age and her parents, who I think are in their 60s.  There are no children living in the home, but there were some kids visiting earlier.  When we first arrived at the house, we were served an incredible meal of couscous with vegetables and meat, as well as Moroccan mint tea and various cookies.  Over the past week we have come to deeply understand how much Moroccans enjoy food, and during the last week we were treated to very delicious food at the hotel where pre-service training (PST) was held.

The upcoming weeks are clearly going to be intense, both with language training and culture integration activities, but I hope to write posts on a weekly basis.  And, if you want to know details about where we live, please email me ([email protected]) and I will be glad to send the specifics.

Bslama (goodbye), dear friends!  And I promise there will be more pictures in the next blog post–we have been too busy to take photos so far, but plan to make that a bigger priority.

Erika

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