Connecting with other Peace Corps trainees in Washington D.C. was reassuring, but orientation with them in Morocco was true bonding.
We deplaned on the tarmac, which as one of the other trainees commented, made us feel very official. I didn’t have many expectations going into Morocco and was immediately excited by the random palm trees lining the streets and the mountains hovering just on the horizon. Due to COVID-19 protocols, we headed to a hotel for isolation and to begin orientation.
The first few days were rough between the jet lag, constant meetings/presentations, and keeping social distance between one another. We were excited to get to know each other, after all!
I made it my mission to sit with at least one different person at every meal, and slowly, I started to get to really get to know my cohort. Everyone had so many different backgrounds and life experiences from fresh college grads to a man on the verge of retirement. We all came from different places and have different places we want to go next, but for the next two years, we are all united in one goal: to positively impact the youth of Morocco.
We also got a chance to meet the Moroccan Peace Corps staff. Our language and cross-cultural facilitators (LCFs) are Moroccan people trained to help us learn the language and customs of the Moroccan people we’ll be integrating with over the next 27 months. They represent all different regions of Morocco, giving us Americans an idea of the diversity of the country. They also represent some of the most patient people I’ve ever met as our cohort (especially me) asked endless questions and made plenty of cultural faux pas along the way.
As our isolation time ended, the soccer, volleyball, swimming, boardgames, talent show, and more activities picked up. Days were filled with classes and nights were filled with social bonding. The last few nights we were able to leave the hotel and wander into the city to eat, shop, and get a sense of Moroccan city life. This week, we were also broken up into smaller groups as part of our next stage of training. After our week-long orientation, we headed to community-based training (CBT). My CBT group has a total of four trainees led by our LCF. We started bonding and language classes during orientation and we’ll be headed to a small mountain village for CBT. Once there, we’ll do some on-the-job training to learn strategies to use at our final sites.