Week 9: HUB and Site Visit

We started out this HUB with more sessions covering a variety of topics. The highlight, though, was the cultural evening. To learn about the traditions (and etiquette) of Moroccan weddings, we had a mock wedding complete with traditional clothing, food, tea, and dancing. It was also an excuse for all of us to relax a little bit before heading to our permanent sites for an initial visit before the end of training.

I was a doubter, a Negative Nancy, a Johnny Raincloud…

I will be the first to admit that I was disappointed when I first got my site placement. Like everyone else, I hoped for a beautiful coast. On paper, I read my site as another small mountain village similar to my CBT site. I was worried that I’d face the same challenges from freezing temperatures (if you know me, you know I don’t do well in the cold) to human resources.

Instead, I decided to focus on navigating the logistics of getting to my site, which involved about 7 hours of travel and three different taxis.

It was an early start, but there was a big group of us starting out for the northern regions together, which made things easier. In the end, there were a few hiccups, but overall the experience wasn’t terrible thanks to some awesome team members (special shoutout to Diego!).

My fears about my permanent site soon melted away. My host family greeted me warmly right from the start! I’m officially in love with my host sisters, Soufana and Rawada, who kept me busy playing games. We started several games of a Frozen II-branded version of Candyland and successfully finished one. Hangman is also a popular one, although, I don’t think they truly understood the concept since the person was always eaten by a giant spider at the end if they failed to correctly guess the word.

My host parents took me to all the educational institutions around town so that I could introduce myself to the mudir (director) of each one. All were great connections and ones I’m sure will be valuable in my two years here. I also got to meet the mudir of the dar chebab (youth center) that will be my main workplace. He seemed enthusiastic and organized, so I can’t wait to get started positively impacting the youth of our community together. We started talking about projects right away, which really inspired me and gave me the motivation I needed to finish up training.

There were many other organizations throughout my village that might also offer some amazing opportunities, including a boarding school for students. Boys and girls who live in the surrounding remote mountain areas are able to stay while they attend school. The mudir and assistant mudir took me around and had the students introduce themselves in English. There were over 100 of them total, all beyond excited to meet me, giggling and whispering to one another. One girl even said she wants to be my friend. They also insisted we take a few group photos. I’m so excited to go back and work with them.

Leaving my permanent site to go back to training was harder than I imagined it would be.

I wasn’t expecting to get so attached so quickly, but after only four days, I was going to miss the routine I had already started to form. I was going to miss playing games with my sisters and spending the evening writing in my journal next to my mom doing her own work. I’m also going to really miss her tea and cooking! But, it gave me an extra boost of motivation to study hard and pass my language test so that I can be officially sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

So, for anyone considering Peace Corps, my advice for you is to trust the placement process. I know this was only a four-day visit, but I’m so excited by what I found here. I can’t wait to get started exploring all the opportunities to work with my community.

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