I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I arrived in Morocco! It feels like much more time because each day I have been busy and everything is new and thrilling. The first week I was in training in Rabat with the rest of the Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) in my group. There are about 100 in my group and they are from all over the US (North, Midwest, South, urban and rural areas, races, religions) but the majority are recent college graduates. I am glad that we represent the great diversity of the US. I was surprised that there were lots of young (in their early to mid twenties) married couples- there are about ten in my group. There are also some older couples. All of the PCVs that I have met are so kind and it is fun to learn about their backgrounds and interest in the Peace Corps (PC). I am excited about getting to know them better!
In Rabat we received medical and security training. There aren’t lots of medical issues in Morocco- the most common is diarrhea. Hahaha. We actually had a separate training on its causes, common symptoms, and treatment. The PCVs have a team of Moroccan doctors and nurses as our primary health providers. PC has been criticized a lot for having medical problems (I read this article in the New York Times about the death of PCV in China from diarrhea this past summer) but I was really impressed by the training I received so don’t worry family and friends! I am fine!
Also I believe that there aren’t any alarming security concerns in Morocco. PCVs, especially females, suffer from harassment and in some cases from physical and sexual assault, but the PC has a special approach to deal with it. I was worried about harassment before I came but I feel fine now.
The Director of the PC in Morocco, Ellen Paquette, and the US Ambassador to Morocco, Dwight Bush, visited my group during training and thanked us full-heartedly for volunteering with the Peace Corps. They are both very approachable.
After a couple of days in Rabat, we got placed in Community Based Training (CBT) groups and started learning Moroccan Arabic, Darija. Language and Culture facilitators (LCFs) lead CBT groups. LCFs are from all over Morocco and generally recent college graduates who have majored in English in college. There are about five PCVs in each CBT. CBT groups are placed in villages around Meknes and Azrou (see map of Morocco) where PCVs live with host families. The first couple of weeks we focus on learning Darija and then we start working at the Youth or Women’s Centers in our villages. We also get together in Meknes and Azrou for more training. PC has worked in Morocco since 1963. PCVs use to work in the Agriculture and the Community Economic Development sectors but now they focus on Youth Development. PC Morocco partners with the Youth Ministry of Morocco to place PCVs in Youth and Women’s Centers around Morocco. The Ministry has specific goals and objectives for PCVs, which we will reference when planning projects and activities. Also there are about 200-300 PCVs in total in Morocco. The past couple of years the groups have been starting training in January and service in April.