Monday, November 16, 2009

Finishing up pre-service training

Wrapping up my pre-service training was defiantly a blast. My entire group traveled to Mehdya, the beach city that we first came to when we arrived in Morocco. We spend 3 days there having fun, enjoying the weather, and oh yes…training. We were lectured by day and enjoying each others company by night. I was looking so forward to this time that I got to spend with all my fellow trainees and it ended up being wonderful. One night some of us went to a pool hall/dance club and watched some Moroccan men putting out some flawless moves. We watched many sunsets from the beach. Rachid, our training coordinator, had worked hard to organize a talent show for us. Our last night there I was provided with entertainment from my friends and staff. No I didn’t showcase any talent, however I offered lots of support to those who did. At 8 am the final day we were there we boarded buses en route to Rabat, Morocco’s capitol. This is where we were to have our swearing in ceremony. First we stopped off at the Peace Corps office, which seemed more like a compound to me. There were a couple of building and really pretty landscape inside of it. This is the place where all PC Morocco business takes place and where we will go for medical attention from our PC doctors. We had our ceremony at a near by theater. We were joined by the US ambassador to Morocco, our country director David Lillie, and a couple members of the Moroccan ministry. (I guess it’s kinda like parliament) We all stood up together and gave the oath of being a Peace Corps Volunteer. I felt very noble and honored to give it. After that we were officially PCVs! We were served lunch on the lawn of the PC office and it was very nice. Then we traveled to the very nice hotel that we got to stay in. Yorda, Cyntha, Sarah, Emily, and I went to Marjane after that. Marjane is the Wal-Mart of Morocco. The stories I had heard about it defiantly were true. It was so big and included almost anything you would ever need. I bought myself a nice travel hair dryer, some peach black tea bags, and a couple other things. All in all I spent about 80 durhams there and it equals 10 dollars. There was also an attached Pizza Hut and ice cream store. There were also beauty stores nearby. Quite expensive though. But if I am in dire need of something like that, its nice to know I can get it. There is a Marjane on Casablanca which is only 40 minutes from my site. After the excitement of Marjane some of us went to a little cafĂ© and had a couple of drinks to unwind. We were forbidden to drink while in training so this was something that most of us to excited to get to do. Also since drinking alcohol is forbidden and illegal in Muslim countries it is not available everywhere. But there were plenty of drinking establishments in Rabat. We went back to the hotel for our buffet style dinner and laid down in the room for a bit. Despite being the most tired I had been in 9 weeks I pushed myself to go out again after that. By this time it was about 10pm and I had gotten up at 6:30 that morning. But a bunch of us went to a bar and sat upstairs in the lounge. They were playing American music from the 1980’s and we were all loving it. But music progressively got more “dancey” and a lot of us couldn’t hold it back for much longer. To be more exact it was the boys who were having a hard time fighting back the urge to dance. “Sweet Dreams are Made of These” by the Eurthmics was enough to get them out of their seats and make a dance floor when there wasn’t one. We spent three hours there dancing, laughing, and enjoying our last night together. We left at 1:30 after which we went to the roof of our hotel and enjoyed the night sky for another hour. I finally went to sleep at 2:30 and awoke at 5:30. My train didn’t leave Rabat until 9:45 however we had people departing at 6:30 and I couldn’t bear not seeing them off. So I just got up and hung out in the hotel lobby with everyone as the slowly left. These relationships that I have built over the past 9 weeks are ones that are very important to me. Before I came here I remember saying that I didn’t want to rely on relationships with other Americans because I wanted to build good relationships with Moroccans. However you don’t realize how important your American relationships are until you get here. We are each others allies and family while we are so far from home. Saying good bye to everyone was like leaving home all over again. We are sprinkled all over this country but we are so incredibly lucky to all have cell phones and Internet access. Whenever I feel sad, alone, or lonely I keep my support system in mind. Between other PCVs, PC staff, and my wonderful friends and family back home I can safely say I have at least a few hundred people backing me up and I’ve never felt more honored.