Morocco is home to a rather diverse group of English-language bloggers, as I'm sure you have observed. While many are native Moroccans utilizing their English skills and still others are expatriate teachers or workers, there is another unique group obvious from the tagline which their organization requires they post on their blogs: “Any written message or photo provided on this blog site does not represent the views or opinions of the U.S. Peace Corps or any other institution.”
The Peace Corps, a government organization set up in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, enables American volunteers to spend two years working in various sectors in 73 countries around the world. Morocco, currently home to 197 volunteers, has programs in environment, health, small business development, and youth development. Over the years, the country has hosted over 3,500 such volunteers and continues to run a strong program.
But as anyone familiar with the Peace Corps knows, the volunteers (or PCVs, as they call themselves) do much more than work in those sectors – their task is akin to that of an ambassador as they become fluent in the local language, spend time with local families, and help in other areas. Here is an introduction to some of Peace Corps Morocco's prolific bloggers:
Cory Driver of 32n5w, who has been quoted on Global Voices before, is finishing up his stint as a PCV. In his most recent post, he shares beautiful photographs of Moroccan locales. This one is from Essaouira and the ruins are rumored to have inspired Jimi Hendrix's “Castles in the Sand:”
As if climbing Jbel Toubkal once was not enough for me …
The mind, in ebullient anticipation seemed to forget pain and misery …
The rest of the poem was just as beautiful. She also shared a series of photographs; here's one from the mountain:
Out of Control is written by someone who calls himself “El Hombre Negrito,” who wrote recently on the Peace Corps experience:
So much of the Peace Corps experience is spent in isolation so it's really strange when we all get together for an extended period of time. Sometimes the social dynamic is the same and other times it is entirely different. In any case, in the past few weeks, I've been lucky enough to see the other volunteers quite frequently and I think it has helped to maintain my sanity.
27monthswithoutbaseball also touched on the experience of a PCV, saying:
I’ve also been struggling with issues of belonging and acceptance – again, issues identified by the career coach as something important to me in my career search. I don’t feel that I don’t belong in the Peace Corps – I still feel it was a great choice for me at this point in my life – and I don’t feel I don’t belong in Azrou; I feel quite welcomed – but I am still dealing with the issue of my relationships with other volunteers. This is something I didn’t expect to have as an issue – something they don’t tell you about in training!
Shwiya b shwiya, whose name means “little by little” in darija (Moroccan Arabic), is one very readworthy blog from a new PCV that gives great insight into what life is really like for volunteers in Morocco. Recently, the blogger wrote:
It’s only in moments such as those that it hits me. I am in the Peace Corps. I am living in Morocco. I’ve become so accustomed to it that it doesn’t seem strange anymore. It seems normal here, even though I don’t know the language and am living in a mud house. It’s pretty unremarkable. Sometimes I wonder what in the world I’m doing here, but really, I forget where I am. Or I don’t forget; I don’t think I’m in the United States, obviously, but it just is unimportant. I don’t know how much sense this makes, but it’s really sort of strange when about once a week, it hits me that I live here and that I am a PCV. It’s a really bizarre feeling: sometimes it feels like a little panic attack, and sometimes it makes me giddy with joy and I just laugh out loud.
As you have seen, Morocco PCVs are a diverse group and one worth watching. I will continue to share their stories with you alongside others, and introduce more PCVs as I come across them.