The other day I finally retrieved my luggage from the CTM station. It took me four trips to the station before success. My site mate told me there’s no point in trying to do more than one errand a day. Anyways, I dug out my calendar. The last thing written was my flight information from Boston to Philly. That was just yesterday but so long ago. Now I'm sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV). I've made my way to my site. I watched a community cry as the previous volunteer said goodbye. And I'm already sweating, jogging and laughing with these women. Did this all really happen? How am I here? Wow. (Photos of Swearing In. Top: Welcome new PCVs. Bottom: Morocco Country Director, me, and Program and Training Manager.)
...Of course the next question is what do I do now?! I don't understand what being a PCV actually means. But for now, I'm asking a million questions. I'm stumbling to speak clearly in Darija. I'm doing anything that comes my way, including waking up at 6am to jog with the women. I’m balling up couscous with my hands each Friday. I’m binging in clementines. And I'm learning how to breathe.
In the meantime, enjoy my ode to Thanksgiving. I can’t believe it’s been a year since the Halfway House hosted Thanksgiving dinner. That was of my favorite days in CP.
I’m thankful for the constant stream of emails and love from home.
YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW HAPPY IT MAKES ME. So keep telling me about your lives in the motherland. Period.
I'm thankful for my fellow trainees.
During the first week of training, I remember talking to the Country Director’s wife (a former PCV which goes by the acronym RPCV, meaning Returned Peace Corps Volunteer). She mentioned how she’s much closer with Peace Corps friends than college. And I said to myself, “Umm… that’s because you don’t have the college friends I have… or my loves from high school.” Now of course you guys are irreplaceable. But I’m so grateful to trained with such amazing people. Those who went through PST ’08 share something special. (Photo of Rabat roommates: Kate, me and Lynn.)
I’m thankful for the PCVs in my neighborhood.
This past Saturday I celebrated Thanksgiving in Tiznit! That made my week/weekend. It couldn’t have been more wonderful. Candles were lit around the courtyard and room. We had two bookshelves full of food. PCVs brought their guitars. We stayed up late singing, laughing, talking. I have another great community with those in my providence.
I'm thankful for Moroccan trees that know what's up with fall.
During the last week of training, we were given a couple days to learn as we pleased. A group of us decided to hike in a nearby town. We walked up a hillside and along a little spring. We also explored an abandoned TB hospital. I bet you're jealous. How many people get to say they played in an abandoned TB hospital? And then jumped in a pile of fall leaves? Well, now you know that someone. hahaaa. (Photo ofMike in front of the TB hospital.)
I'm thankful to have found many "sympathetic interpolators" here in Morocco.
Every PCT has to take a Language Proficiency exam. Each language proficiency level (i.e. Novice High, Intermediate Low, Intermediate Mid, etc) has a hilarious description. One level's description goes along the lines of this: you can only be understood by "sympathetic interpolators," who are patient and accustomed to foreign speakers. One states that you can’t even be understood by the most patient person. (FYI- I did well! But I know the real test is here and now- trying to make a community understand what the heck I want to say.) Anyways, you would never guess how excited people get when they hear a funny-looking Chinese girl speaking their language. It turns heads. Suddenly people have questions for me and want to help me out! Awesome, right? I’m happy to find sympathetic interpolators almost everywhere.
I'm thankful for space saving plastic bags. Without them, I could have never shoved so much crap into my bags.
I'm thankful for shared chocolate mousse.
I’m thankful my host family has a cow, turkey, sheep, goats and chickens.
In case you were wondering, I’m integrating well into this farm family. The other day, the cow licked the side of my pants. That’s real love. And the goats and sheep didn’t turn around and run from me as they did the first day. I’ve yet to love on the turkey and chickens. They’re a tricky bunch.
I'm thankful for Moroccan red wine, especially when combined with song and guitar.
I'm thankful for anyone who loves to play with their shadow and understands the fun of shadow fighting.
I'm thankful for songs without words. Sometimes words are the last thing I want to hear.
I'm thankful that shared laughter doubles joy. I’m thankful shared tears halve the pain.
I'm thankful for my village and these women. They’re the reason I joined Peace Corps. And I’m thankful for the possibility to make these next two years glorious. It's already been a good week.