As of this morning, I am officially a Peace Corps Volunteer!
And let me tell you, it’s taken quite a bit of work to get that PCV status. Technically according to Peace Corps, from when you arrive in country to when you do your official swearing in, you’re a Peace Corps Trainee, which is just not quite as good as the real thing.
What it has taken to get the PCV attached to my name:
- My parents planting the idea of Peace Corps in my head when I was still a teenager
- Nine months study abroad in France, which convinced me I liked traveling and experiencing new cultures
- My initial Peace Corps application in 2008, the process of which convinced me I wasn’t ready for the adventure just yet
- Four years of working at The Mining Journal, which helped me become a functional, confident adult
- Roughly nine months of applications and medical processes from October 2011 to June 2012
- An initial invitation to the country of Tunisia in July of 2012, which was cut short a month before my departure due to political unrest
- Three months of substitute teaching, waiting to be able to leave for my new post here in Morocco
- Ten weeks of training from January until now, in which I began learning a new language
It’s no joke of a process, but now that I’m actually a volunteer, it doesn’t feel all that different.
This morning, we were bused from our hotel to one of the Ministry of Youth and Sports buildings a few minutes away. In the auditorium there, we listened to speeches from Peggy, our country director, a representative from the Ministry, the American ambassador to Morocco and three of our own top Darija speakers. The speech giving is the price you pay for having the best language skills. I scored in the “intermediate-mid” language bracket, so I was happy with my progress, but wasn’t expected to talk in front of a large audience.
Following the speeches, we watched a touching slide show of pictures from our training process and then took our oath, where we promised to uphold the values of the United States and discharge our posts faithfully, which I think is actually the same oath the president says when he takes office, maybe.
Swearing in was also a chance to see everyone decked out in their new jllaba finery! So many of us had them, we ended up taking a “jllaba rainbow” picture, with all the colors spread out in a spectrum. It’s quite the picture, however, one was not taken with my camera, so I’ll update this as soon as I get a copy.
After the ceremony, we took a short walk over to the Peace Corps office. It was the first time I had seen it, and it is super beautiful, surrounded by a nice garden. Most of my visit to the office, however, was consumed by a visit to our friendly Peace Corps Medical Officers. My left eyelid has decided this week would be an awesome time to develop some sort of infection. The doctor says its a stye. I’m kind of convinced someone implanted a hot, itchy, painful golf ball into my skin. Don’t freak out, that’s not how bad it looks, but it’s certainly what it feels like. I’m now in possession of some cream and some medicated eye drops to help it clear up. It is somewhat appropriate though, as it makes my eye tear up like crazy, so it just kind of looks like I’m crying all the time, which is fitting for the end of training, I guess. Mostly I just want it to go away, but I’m trying not to complain to much, because as we all know, I could have an eye infection AND diarrhea.
Yesterday was also a big day as we got the opportunity to meet with the directors of our dar chebabs. It was a chance to introduce ourselves and find out more about what we are going to be doing. Many of them were bused in to meet with us, and I was impressed by how many of them showed up. Mine was not there, but his supervisor, who oversees several directors in the region, came and he was super nice. My site mate and I area already invited over for tea.
Anyway, we have our train tickets for tomorrow’s big move. Our train trip might about eight hours long. It’ll be an adventure. Hopefully the next time you hear from me, I’ll be in T–!