Morocco is host to a vibrant Peace Corps program. All over the country, American Peace Corps members volunteer their time teaching English, sustainable growth, assisting with agricultural and women's projects, and a multitude of other tasks that come along with being a young, active volunteer in Morocco. And Moroccans, known for their hospitality, are for the most part, very welcoming to these volunteers. Many of my Moroccan colleagues remember young Peace Corps volunteers and Fulbright scholars who have passed through with fond memories.
Last August, Global Voices published a two-part introduction to Morocco's Peace Corps bloggers, also a lively and vibrant group. As Peace Corps is a two-year assignment, several volunteers have left and many more have started their service; therefore, I've caught up with both new and old to see what they're up to now.
Connie in Morocco, who is about to complete her service, is reflecting on her time in Morocco:
People ask if I think I will have changed from this experience. I hope one thing that doesn't change is how much less I will use non-renewable resources. It's amazing how one can get by without paper towels or napkins…even less TP! I recall how Mom used to save string on a ball and other means of conserving things. Maybe we are progressive if we regress to our childhood ways? I believe I will be less materialistic than before; not totally, but less. And I know that I will need to continue practicing tolerance…in reverse from here!
27MonthsWithoutBaseball reflects on the difficulty of leaving Morocco behind (literally!):
Will I be able to let more go and live more clutter-free? I hope so! In the meantime, though, I keep buying Moroccan things for my imaginary next home. As I buy things, I do try to picture how they will fit in the imaginary home. Or at least fit into this home… Joy said that when she was in Tunisia doing research she knew a lot of Peace Corps Volunteers and when they got their things home they didn’t fit. I’ll be starting more or less from scratch, so I can build around things. And what doesn’t fit will make a lovely gift!
Cory of 32n5w, who finished his service and left Morocco in the fall, recently remarked in his blog:
whenever people ask what peace corps was like, from now on, i'm going to say it was kind of like this. but not in english. and with a lot more walking.
Jenny in Morocco is also reflective, focusing on the things she's learned so far:
If there's one thing I have learned during my time in the Peace Corps, it is that there are contradictions everywhere, but this is a part of life. Once you accept these contradictions, you can see and appreciate the human experience of life. Life can be so varied and diverse on earth and I am thankful I was given this opportunity to open my eyes to the rich diversity of life.
Finally, Duncan Goes to Morocco, a new PCV just beginning his service, remarks upon the first few weeks:
It’s been two weeks since I swore in and came to live in my site. People here are getting used to me being around and ask where I was if I’m missing for a day. I spend a good amount of my time just hanging out in the center of town where people sit around when there’s nothing to do. My language is improving, but I still don’t understand a lot of what is going on, especially when people are talking to one another, and not to me. Fortunately, I found a tutor in Tounfite (my souq, or market town). I’ll be going in there once or twice a week to get tutored, check email and mail, and hang out. There are two other volunteers there, a married couple, and they are generous to me and I like them a lot, which is fortunate since I’ll be spending a lot of the next year (when they finish PC) with them.
I have been trying to meet people in other douars (communities) as well. Basically what I do is hike along the road for a while until I come to a clump of houses. Then I walk around, greeting everyone I see, hoping to get invited in for tea or food. I kind of feel like a charity case, but my method hasn’t failed me yet. I’m meeting people and establishing contacts in other communities. I feel like this work is especially important because these other douars that I’m visiting are poorer and have greater need than my douar, which is a little more centrally located. One of the people that I met said to me, “help us, we are very poor.” It’s hard to hear that because there are no big changes with Peace Corps. I think the most important and effective thing I can communicate to the people in my commune is “wash your hands after you use the bathroom and before you eat.” But that’s not really what a guy who eats bread for three meals a day wants to hear when he asks for help.