Readiness to Serve, Miriam, 114 years old, November 8-14. This was a week of transition, as our teacher shifted into review and self-directed learning. Our Country Director (as in head over all aspects of Peace Corps in Morocco) came to our little village to give us all our “Readiness to Serve” interview, where we talked about our integration, language, health and other issues. I like her a lot and think that I will be cleared. On Monday we have one more session of teaching that will be observed by Peace Corps staff.
After that, three days with all the PCTs of Stage 100 in a bigger city, and the announcement of our permanent sites on the 15th. I will dearly miss my little village and my family here, but I am ready to move on to more substantial work and a little more independence.
We have had relatively warmer weather and today we may even see 68 today, so I took a chance yesterday and washed some clothes, including my long underwear that Mama bought me.
I have been to two parties this week. First, my “sister” had us all to dinner. I don’t normally stay up for dinner as it means going to bed at 12:30-1:00 on a very full stomach and then getting up at 6:30 to get ready for class. However, I knew that everyone in the family would be there for a special meal to celebrate my “brother” from Rabat being home on leave from the army. Indeed, it was a great time with wonderful food. The second was a baby party. My Mom could not even tell me the name of the woman who had the child, but she was married to a guy that works with my “brother” at the coffee shop. So, I thought we were in agreement that we would not stay more than an hour. Still, she knew a lot of people there. I did not know any of the adults, but recognized a few of the children. As before, the baby and mother are in bed and guests are seated everywhere around the house. We brought our gifts sugar. As with every party I have attended, just when everyone is yawning and you think you are going to leave, they begin serving. First, tea and cookies, followed by the special “bride’s” chicken (rotisserie or fried whole to look like it), followed by meat cooked with plums and then fruit. These party meals are often absent of any starch or vegetables, but in this case, before the fruit there was a sugary CousCous. The big thing about this party was two women that I met. First, there was a young woman, who had achieved her equivalent of a high school diploma and was attending her freshman year at University in Fes, to become an engineer. I believe this to be rare in our community, for boys, let alone girls. For one thing, we do not have a high school, and while the school is free, the lodging and living in the town away from home are not. And only the best get into a University like Fes. She spoke some English and helped translate for me as I spoke with Miriam, 114 years old by all accounts. She was reported to be blind, but sitting up and chatty when engaged. I asked her for advice from her experience, but she had none to share. She did however, slip a bracelet of beads on my wrist, which I kept. The young woman asked to take our photo and I hope she sends it to me.
We had our final observation by a higher PC staff member, as we team taught “life skills” to grade school and middle school students at the Dar Shbaab (youth center). They went well enough. I was in the group that taught Yoga (no, I am not making that up, and no, I did not do Yoga poses) after which I facilitated a discussion by the students about how the activity made them feel. The other group did a fantastic session on gratitude, with American Thanksgiving as the vehicle. It was sad to see that they managed to talk about Thanksgiving, with an audience that worships God, without once mentioning God. It would have been a nice connection to many Americans, and the foundation of our country. The “hand turkey” was the focus.
We had a rare field trip, this time to the Post Office in Immozzier. We met in groups of three and asked questions in Darija. Our group got the Postmaster. He was very kind and answered our many questions. Apparently he had some interaction with the group of trainees stationed in his town.
Then, it was off to the big city, to meet with all the other trainees of Stagé 100 (we are the 100th group to serve in Morocco). We will learn our permanent site locations.