I can’t believe I’ve been in Morocco for a month, and I’m not just saying that. I really can’t believe it!!!! The days feel soooo long, but when I look at the calendar my jaw drops because I can’t believe we are halfway through October!
So what have I been doing for the past month you ask??? Let’s start with my family. For about a month I’ve been living with a loving family in El Hajeb. My Baba, Alilous, is an Art Teacher at the local school. My Mama, Fatima, is a stay at home mom and an AMAZING cook! Hands down the best!!!! I have 3 siblings Anas, Niza, and Doha. Anas is 7 years old and loves to sing really loud and show me his dance moves that he learned from the Bollywood soap opera channel. Niza is 4 years old and boy is he crazy!!! He’s just a ball full of energy and doesn’t seem to understand that I barely know what he’s saying half the time. Then there’s Doha, the queen of the house. She’s 1 years old and a sweet heart. She loves to come into my room with a big smile on her face and check in on me. Sometimes she even likes to snuggle with me and watch movies. I got pretty lucky with my family.
Now let’s talk about the other part… the language. The first couple of months volunteers have to go through what’s called Community Based Training (CBT). The main focus is learning the language (Darija), integrating into the community, and practicing some facilitating/leaning projects in our community. Monday through Saturday from 8:30am – 5:30pm with a 2 hour lunch break, alongside 5 other volunteers, I’m in the classroom. So the days are long and exhausting to say the least. My days usually go something like this….
Wake up to the call to prayer at 5 or 6. I don’t really know what time exactly. I’m usually half asleep. Roll out of bed at 8:00am and eat breakfast with Niza.
From 8:30am – 12:15pm, language. The time when we learn what feels like 100 new words/phrases each day. While learning these new words we also try to stay as calm as humanly possible and keep our freak outs, “Oh my God I’m never going to learn this!!!!!” to a minimum. (But they occasionally happen. I mean we are learning a completely new language in less than 3 months. Also, when writing with Roman letters they use 3, 7 and 9 in some of the words because there are no English equivalent letter sounds.)
From 12:15pm – 2:30pm I go home for lunch and eat my bodyweight and bread. I do a lot of smiling and act like I know what’s going on. Then slowly I build up the courage to say something in Darija. This usually consists of a lot of confusion for several minutes. Then with the help of drawing and acting out they usually can get what I’m trying to say…. I think.
2:30pm – 5:30pm, back to language class. Learn about the culture, play some language games and try really, really, really, hard not to fall asleep in class. Or try not to cry because I’m so tired.
From 5:30pm – 10:30pm attempt to study whatever I learned on that day. Usually doesn’t happen because my siblings are so excited to see me. In fact as I’m writing this Niza is sitting on my back asking to see pictures of America. Doha is jumping on my bed and Ana’s is showing me his homework. This is a pretty typical night.
After we have tea and kaskort (snack) we watch a couple episodes of whatever is on the Bollywood soap opera channel. After a couple cups of tea, several loafs of bread, and episodes I usually call it a night. This is around 10:30pm and then I repeat the whole thing again.
Even though the days are long, the language is hard, my body hurts from sitting too much and I’m at a constant state of exhaustion, this month has been pretty great. Pretty great indeed!
Yesterday I taught English at the Dar Telliba (Dar Telliba is a boarding room for girls) and it was AMAZING!!! I was told there were only going to be 6 girls, but 30 showed up. 30!!!!!! 3!!! 0!!! As if I wasn’t nervous enough to teach 6. Once I got in front of the class, Camp Counselor Audrey came out and I felt right at home. It was incredible, rewarding, nerve-racking, all the feelings!!!! Being surrounded by all those girls reminded me of why I packed up my bags and moved halfway across the world!!!
Next week the Regional Managers come to watch me teach. Wish me luck!!!