Woof. September was a busy month, accented by week-long stretches of having to leave site for various work-related travel.
So, when you last heard from me, I’d just gotten back from a three-day training on Project Design and Management. I was home for two days and then off again for a CPR training organized by one of my fellow volunteers in the city of Ouarzazate, which is like the Hollywood of Morocco. I missed Brad Pitt by two weeks. But I did get to drive past the Game of Thrones set on my bus.
Anyway, the CPR training was organized by the volunteer and her parents, who came over from the U.S. especially to teach us how to do chest compressions. I’d done CPR trainings before, but it was good to have a refresher course and now I can teach people in my community – not certifying them though, just teaching the basics. I walked around Ouarzazate (which volunteers here call Oz) a bit each day and enjoyed seeing volunteers I hadn’t seen in a while. A lot of people were also in town for a longer training on two of the Amazeight/native languages of Morocco, so there were a lot of people in that hotel.
Work, like actual work involving youth, also began after my return from Oz. The ACCESS Program, which I was working with last spring, started classes again, and it has been lovely to see the kids there again.
In addition, I’ve become the middle man in the transfer of some books from the Peace Corps library to the municipal library of A-I-, a town just to the east of T–. They are a fairly recent addition to the town – only open about a year and a half – and were looking to expand their collection of books. After Skyping with the most recent volunteer there and meeting with the library director, I put in a request to Peace Corps and am now in possession of five large boxes of books and one box of VHS tapes that need transportation to the library. I’m still working out that part of the operation.
After a little more than a week at home trying to get myself organized, my fellow volunteers and I made our way to Marrakech for our regional meeting. Marrakech isn’t actually in our region, but whatever. We arrived and the next day had our meeting, which our Dar Chabab mudirs (directors) were also invited to. It was a chance to sit down at the beginning of the year and do some planning – when to do classes, when to do special events, when will we have to be out of site. We were also treated to a look at the list of possible sites for volunteers from the upcoming stage, and although work still needs to be done to develop the sites (find host families and scope out the Dar Chababs), it will be exciting to have new people in the area.
My birthday also happened to fall on the date of our regional meeting, so we had the chance to go out for some birthday eve ice cream, and birthday dinner, and birthday chocolate tart. What can I say? It was amazing!
Then another week at home, during which we celebrated Liz’s birthday!
Then another week at home, followed by a trip back to Marrakech for another training, this time on how to teach the International Youth Foundation’s Passport to Success life skills program. This curriculum is intended to help youth develop skills in decision making, self esteem, and communication, much of which isn’t taught in schools like it is in the United States. The training was mainly intended for our Moroccan counterparts, who will be actually teaching the curriculum in Darija. Because the idea of me getting up and trying to communicate in anything beyond basic conversation is a bit laughable at this point still. Anyway, Mounia, my counterpart, rocked it and I can’t wait to start working with her.
Our hotel also had a pool, and I took major advantage of swimming every day.
So now it’s October. Three months until we hit the one year in country mark. One year until a new stage arrives. Two weeks until my Dar Chabab classes begin. Two weeks until IYF classes start. There’s so much to do before then. So excited.