Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas from Morocco!

Since my Peace Corps Detour, life in Morocco has been going well. My volunteer community is filled with kids, which means I am always busy! I have created a consistent work schedule. Sunday and Monday the youth center is closed. Tuesday is girls club in the morning and soccer in the afternoon. Wednesday is girls club in the afternoon, Thursday is English class, Friday is art club, and Saturdays tend to be more soccer and Frisbee time. Slowly but surely, I hope to facilitate a girl’s empowerment workshop, a health day, and a mural painting at the youth center. I am looking forward to the many project potentials in my community.

In addition to becoming busy with work, relationship building with the Moroccan people has been great! Within my community, four Moroccan families have extended an open door policy to me. They are always inviting me over to share meals. I don’t think I have eaten lunch once in my house since coming back! Eating lunch with the Moroccan people is important for me to do in order to feel connected and apart of the community. I feel safe in their presence and there are moments where I feel like another link in their family. I also find eating the Moroccan food heart-warming and comforting. The dishes seem to be perfectly balanced with just the right amount of spices.

Christmas is right around the corner! I will be going to a nearby town to spend the holiday with other Peace Corps volunteers. Then, soon after, I am going to Europe for a two-week vacation to Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, and Austria.

Merry Christmas to all my wonderful friends and family! This is my first Christmas away from home, and I will definitely be missing our annual giant family gift exchange, grandma’s stuffing, cookies, but most of all the people who make the holidays so special, family and friends. Lots of Love and Merry Christmas from Morocco!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My Peace Corps Detour

During training, the Peace Corps talks about the cycle of emotions that volunteers tend to experience throughout their service. They even gave us a handy diagram as a reference. Around this time is the adjustment phase, which tends to accompany feelings of anxiety and stress. Homesickness tends to intensify and the challenges of living abroad become more apparent.  
These past few months have been the most challenging thus far. After completing my work at the orphanage, I continued to attend more volunteer trainings. The stress of living out of my pack for many months was wearing on me. I went back to site with the hope of feeling more relaxed, because I would finally be in one place. When I got to site I woke each day and tried my hardest to focus on my work and mission as a volunteer, but I still didn’t feel right. I felt scared and confused. I wanted with all my heart to be a volunteer in my site. Yet, I felt out of balance. I needed to see my family and be around people who would provide me with lots of rejuvenating energy.

Thus, I made the decision to return home to reconnect with loved ones. When I was home, I did lots of yoga, ate healthy, spent lots of time with family, and focused on getting stronger. I think my decision to return home will make my Peace Corps service more productive. Because I myself feel stronger, I believe I can be a greater source of peace for my community.
I have learned that I need to be strong within myself, before I can efficiently support and serve others. Thanks to my wonderful friends and family I am feeling stronger! My journey these past few months have also filled me with humility. I am human, which means I am vulnerable. I am not invincible, and I need to protect myself.

Transitioning back to Peace Corps life has been challenging, but each day is becoming easier. Everyday has been filled with a blessing of some sort. I started a girls club at the youth center, which includes dance, music, art, and hopefully some cooking! I am also teaching English and playing lots of UNO, soccer, and Frisbee.

Today I finalized my plans for a mini-remodel in my house. I am going to put Moroccan tile into my courtyard. It has been fun decorating my space!
It feels good to be settling back into Peace Corps life, and I don’t have to leave site until the end of the month! Hamdullah! (Thanks be to God in Arabic)

Lots of Love and Merry Christmas from Morocco!