Thursday, September 15, 2011

The COS conference

Last week in Rabat my group had our COS conference which stands for close of service. It always takes place two months before we actually leave because it contains information that will get us ready to go home.

Information that a lot of us were most excited about hearing. We talked about plane tickets or money for plane tickets. Ways to say goodbye to community members. And had a panel of returned Peace Corps volunteers who were there to talk to us about some of the readjustment issues we may face upon returning home.

For the first time the entire group will not be finishing their service on the same day. Usually the entire group who first came to Morocco together travels to Rabat on the same day to have their swear-out ceremony. This way we all get to end together just the way we started. But due to the changes that Peace Corps Morocco is making, namely the one of bring in groups of 100 trainees two times per year, they are starting to make changes now. The staff won't be able to handle processing 100 volunteers on their way out so they must be broken into small groups.

This upset many members of my group as we were planning on getting to be together one last time before we head home. Now instead the 44ish of us that are left are broken into four different end dates. Our original date of departure was to be November 16th, 2011. However now the dates are changed to the 10th, 14th, 15th, and 16th.

It maybe wasn't the most organized way of choosing departure dates but the staff decided to just post a sign up sheet with ten spaces for each departure date. Word on the street was that everyone wanted the 10th. When the sign up sheet went up we were in the middle of a session so no one could get up to sign it. But when the word was given to go to it, it because a mad dash like people were fighting for the last popular Christmas toy.

My friend Sarah and I both wanted to have the 10th so we struck a deal agreeing that whoever saw the list first would then put the others name in addition to their own. Sarah was one of the first to the list in the mad dash. She successfully got both our names up thankfully without loss of any limbs.

When I looked at the list it looked like a three-year-olds had written it. With all the pushing and shoving good penmanship was not an easy task. But I was glad to know I got the date I wanted. Also excited that I will be able to say that I began my Peace Corps journey on 9-9-09 and ended it on 11-11-11. Pretty cool, right?

While in Rabat we all had a lot of fun together. We stayed in a nice hotel called Hotel Balima and all ate nice food that is available in Rabat. The tramway that has been being built our entire service was finally available for use.

When trainings like these end we usually say goodbye to each other knowing that we will see one another again in weeks or months. This time when we said goodbye we could have been saying goodbye for good. We are going home to the same country but to a much bigger one and without any other trainings or work obligations to bring us together.

But what we will need to get together for is support. To talk about our experiences with the only people who will completely understand. I definitely won't forget my fellow Peace Corps volunteers.

Our former country director David Lillie was spliced in by Ben Pennington