Preparing for the Slow Season

April 7, 2013

The past ten day have changed my attitude and approach to Peace Corps and living in Morocco.  As I adjust to living on my own, the changes are abundant.  The biggest change is my daily patronization of the local cyber café only a few blocks from my house. Suddenly, I am now seen and known by most of the men in this city.  This café is one of the biggest (and had great coffee and internet), so there are always a couple dozen men here (women who frequent cafes are regarded as prostitutes, so you will rarely see a woman at a nice café).

The thing is, coming to this café has changed my life in other ways.  The ability to access the internet has allowed me to access any movie or TV show that I want.  I am now slowly working on a Bucket List goal of seeing every single movie on “1001 Movies to See Before You Die.”  With about a movie a day and 680 days of Peace Corps left, I honestly think I can get through about half the list.  At the same time, I am also watching new TV shows (currently Joan of Arcadia, next is Community) and reading several new books (I’m finishing “The Good Earth” before reading the “Matched” series so I can talk with my mom about it).

These two simple changes in my life—plus a constant source of coffee—have made life so much better.  Before, my life was little more than “Time for Work” and “Free time.”  Now I have a better understanding of how to dedicate my free time.  Having constants in life is very important.  I realized that back in The States last year.  I’m glad I figured it out quickly here.

The only part of my daily schedule I haven’t quite figured out is work.  I made it to final site at the end of the semester.  I thought this meant that a lot of students would come to me to try to solidify their English skills.  It does not.  They need to prepare for the English Exam.  What I teach is not the same as what the schools teach.  Here, more importance is placed on “past perfect” or “Present participial.”  I have to admit, I couldn’t care less about the functions of language.  My focus is about getting the nouns, verbs, adjectives, and grammar straight so they can have meaningful conversations (or writings) in English.

So now I’m comfortable in site, with a strange feeling.  I will have little work to do over the next three months (aside from integrating into my community).  School is about to end and the summer kills most activities around here.  Since I am finally comfortable here, I am coming up with plenty of ideas about how to engage the youth.  The thing is, using these ideas now would be a waste.  I need to develop these ideas and put them in my back pocket for September—when everything picks back up.

In the meantime, we have trainings.  We just finished a three day training that took place at my house.  It was fantastic.  Going around with eight other volunteers in my site gave me much more confidence here.  I now know where to buy a few more items because others wanted to cook very specific meals.  At the same time, it is always relaxing to spend time “acting like an American”….meaning not being hyper-vigilant every moment in the day.

We have two more of these events in the month ahead—including a ten day training at a resort-like hotel in Marrakesh.  I’m excited to have these trainings as the slow season starts—but I can’t help but wonder what the rest of summer will look like.  I’m doing everything in my power to pack it with random events—like a trip to Spain and possibly a concert.  If I can make it through the summer of nothingness, I can make it through two years.

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