A New Title

These past three months of training have been full of self reflection. I’ve learned more about my strengths and weakness than I ever have in my whole life. One weakness is clearly writing blogs. Sorry ’bout it. 

Just some basic bnat (girls)

I write to you after drinking some sugary atay (tea) and eating warm aghrom (bread) with my brand new host family in my small mountain town. I am located in the Beni-Mellal Providence in the Mid Atlas Mountains. Due to bad guys, Peace Corps asks all Peace Corps volunteers around the world not to publish where they live, but if you’re truly interested, message me and I’d be more than happy to let you stalk my life.

This past week has been a whirlwind of emotions and goodbyes.

I said goodbye to my first Moroccan family. The family who literally held my hand as my life reversed back to early childhood while learning how to talk, bath, eat, and yes, use the toilet. I learned how to roll my own couscous balls with my hand (this was on the last couscous Friday-every previous Friday mama rolled it for me and popped it in my mouth). I learned how to wash my clothes in a bucket with slight success. I also learned how to kneed bread, which is harder workout than even Shaun T could come up with. I owe any future success in Morocco to them. As a departing gift, I gave them a puzzle of Mount Rushmore, which they clearly treasured despite not knowing what it was, and they gave me two pairs of pajamas. In Morocco, this is pretty much the most heartfelt thing you can do. 

My wonderful family. My little sister is clearly distressed at the thought of me leaving.

I said goodbye to the four other Americans in my training site. While our time together was not easy to say the least, I’ve learned so much about myself as a person thanks to you four. From our hikes together to the terrifyingly hilarious taxi rides, I’ll remember every moment.

I said goodbye to stag 98. The only group of over 100 people who can relate to pretty much everything I’ve been going through. When we meet again in March, we will all be different and stronger people. Some of us may think Peace Corps is not for us, while some will already be thinking of extending past our assigned two years. 

Stag 98. I’m in there somewhere. I promise.

And I said goodbye to myself as a trainee. As of Friday, December 9th, I am now a Peace Corps Volunteer, which is a title not many hold. I am, as far as I know, the only American within an hour and a half of my site. While I am here as an English Teacher, I know that us volunteers in Morocco are so much more than that. We are a liaison between the people of Morocco and America. We are here to show that not all Americans hate Muslims, and that not all Muslims are terrorist. Our job is so much more than just teaching English. We are teaching kindness and peace.

Shwiya b Shwiya.


1st month

I survived my first month, so I’ve decided to reach out to my many fans (hi mom) and give a brief rundown on how my first month has been. I’m not a writer by any means, but I feel compelled to share my experience in this beautiful country. Here are, I’m sure, the most pressing questions:

Location: I’m located in a smalllll village named Ben Smim outside of Azrou. It is predominantly farming, and a major water bottling company is located here. Holla at free water. This is just my training site, and I’ll find out my permanent site on Halloween. Truly, the scariest day of the year.

Food: Amazing. Abundant. Tough on my stomach. Mint tea is a staple in Morocco. It tastes like slightly minty, warm simple syrup. The scary part is, I’m starting to crave it. Also, in lue of silverware, everything is eaten with bread. Bread with rice. Bread with potatoes. Bread with eggs. Bread with bread. I’ll keep you all posted on my anti-Weight Watchers diet.

People: My host family is my lifeline. Baba (dad) is a taxi driver. He’s recently stopped greeting me with “bonjour” and instead is greeting me with the standard “rapidly-ask-questions-without-waiting-for-a-response” like true Moroccan custom #integration. Mama stays at home, calls me her daughter, and feeds me cake for breakfast. She likes to show me her goats, and I like to pretend goats don’t terrify me. It’s quite the event. I have a teenage brother who always surprises me with the random English words he knows. I have three year old sister who is absolutely beautiful and knows how to get her way. Don’t worry, guys, wild children exist across borders. Then I have my teenage sister. Without her, I don’t know how I could’ve survived these first few weeks. She paints my nails, does lovely henna, and disrobes me and scrubs me down in the hamman (more on that later) only as real sisters do.

Hygiene: My toilet consists of a hole with plumbing, or Turk. My shower, a bucket. Bucket showers are surprisingly wonderful. The Turk still wins most battles. As a bonding experience, my fellow lady trainees and I went to the public bathhouse, called a hamman, together. Nothing says friendship like getting naked and laughed at by the local women. 

Religion: Islam is the dominant religion in Morocco. I’m still learning about the basics of Islam, but here are somethings I’ve learned:

– The call to prayer sounds 5 times a day, the first one in the early a.m. (6ish maybe?), which, happily, I no longer wake up to. It’s a hauntingly beautiful chant that rings throughout the town.

– Everything is centered around Allah, and He is praised or thanked often. “I’m full, hamdullah” and “Someday people will understand my Darija, inshallah” are some of many Allah themed terms. If you see the likes of these throughout my blog, don’t worry guys, it doesn’t mean I’m converting to Islam, I’m simply integrating and using everyday lingo.

Shwyia B Shwiya: Little by Little. The unofficial mantra of stag (group) 98 here in PC Morocco. Little by little, I’ll be more confident in my language skills. Little by little, my family with let me help around the house and I won’t feel like a burden. Little by little, I won’t be sick after ever other meal. Little by little, I will learn about Islam. Little by little, I’ll express to my family how grateful I am for all they are doing for me. Little by little, I’ll learn how to just say “la” to all the bread. Little by little, I’ll discover what the hell I’ve gotten myself into. In the meantime, I will take each day as it comes to me, Shwiya B Shwiya.