So, it’s March. Time is going by weirdly fast. I leave training on March 23, which means there isn’t a whole lot of time left until my real Peace Corps experience begins. Before my thoughts on the process of getting my final site, a few brief updates:
I dropped my camera into a river while hiking. It’s currently sitting in a bag of rice and I’m hoping that after sitting in there for a week or so, it will magically revive itself. Until then, no more pictures.
- I’m getting over a cold, which turned my voice into a raspy mess and made it even harder than usual to communicate. Having a cold is still preferable to diarrhea.
- I’ve developed a nasty addiction to sunflower and pumpkin seeds. I rationalize eating them by telling myself at least it isn’t chocolate.
- My belt has been let out a notch, thanks to 1) eating a ridiculous amount and 2) no exercise besides walking to and from class every day. One of the things I’m most looking forward to in my final site is establishing a consistent exercise routine.
- I saw two of the most beautiful rainbows today.
Anyway, things are fairly normal here – we can now communicate in the past, present and future tenses, continue to acquire vocabulary and can sometimes carry out conversations in broken Darija, depending on the patience of the person we are talking to.
And all that is good, because our move to our final sites is quickly approaching. Site announcements will be made on March 18. That’s when we find out the communities we will be placed in for the next two years. Even waiting for my country assignment last summer wasn’t this hard, because I had a fairly solid idea of where I would be going. Now I have absolutely no idea where in this country I might be going and it wouldn’t be a lie to say I spend most of my time thinking about it.
As far as I know, the basic process for placing a stage of trainees is this:
- Peace Corps gets a list of potential sites from the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
- Peace Corps regional managers and staff pair that list down to a number close to the number of volunteers that need placing.
- Trainees are interviewed by the regional managers to discuss their strengths, skills and interests.
- The regional managers hole up in a room for three days and try to fit each site with a volunteer who meets the needs of that site.
- The entire stage comes together for site announcements.
I’m sure there are a vast number of intermediate steps that go into this process, but I think that’s the basic idea. We had our site placement interviews last Saturday and I thought mine went pretty well. One of the regional managers from the south of Morocco came to see us and sat with each of us. During my interview, we talked about my previous experience with summer camps, journalism and English teaching. We talked about what size community I’d be comfortable living in and what types of activities I was interested in leading.
As of right now, I don’t have any super specific requests for my final site – I’d like to be in a smaller town where the weather isn’t too hot. And even if my final site ends up being neither of those things, I don’t really care. I’m just excited to be finding out where I’ll be.
While I have loved my training community and my host family here, there are certain things I’m especially looking forward to for my final site:
- Being able to plan out classes/activities for the long term instead of for a few short weeks
- Getting to know my permanent community
- Having my own apartment
- Being able to cook for myself
- Being able to set my own schedule to some extent
It’s nice to be trained to do something (versus being tossed out into a situation to fend for yourself), but I think the entire group of 95 of us is ready to get to work.