Well Pre-Service Training (PST) is coming to a close and what have we done so far?? A LOT of sessions on pretty much anything and everything a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) could possibly encounter during their service. We’re talking between 8:30 am-5:30 pm every frickin day (except last Sunday, our day off) with two breaks and a lunch in between. Let me give you the jist of it by listing a few of the more important ones here:
Safety Reviews and Security Briefings– this told us about transportation safety, where we can/can’t go, how to deal with harassment (quite incidentally, I’ve been warned on MANY occasions by different Peace Corps staff of how Moroccan men apparently like the Asian flava and how I should be prepared to handle that kind of attention, so that should be fun—all I’m saying is that if somebody offered me a two humped camel and a couple of tree climbing goats, I might just have to really, really consider that proposal…because well, y’know). We were also given the contact information of the Regional Security Officer of the US Dept. of State- Bureau of Diplomatic Security in case we get into serious trouble and/or end up in jail.
Health and Food/Water/IG Session– this was full of useful information about how to deal with various gastrointestinal issues all Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) might face at one time or another in the next two years. Like how to know when to call the medical office versus just treating whatever it is yourself and walking it off (i.e. if diarrhea continues for more than 5 days–awesome). I also learned about food safety, especially how to tell if an egg is good or bad esp. since Moroccans don’t refrigerate them (you basically float it in water, if it floats kinda tilted then you’re good but if it’s floating straight up and down like skiny side up and fatty side down , then toss it). And five different water purification methods (boiling is the number 1 method. Yeah! My mom taught me that). Most importantly, they gave us a medical kit, which contains anything and everything you can ever want in a first aid kid and then some (camouflage condoms and a rape whistle amongst other things, are included).
Language and Cultural Lessons: these were brutal at first…I’ve never made so much gurgling and rolling ‘r’ noises in my life. But we’ve had quite a few of these sessions already so I think I’m actually getting the hang of it..maybe. For example I can say: “Salam 3alikum. Kif dayr? Kulchi bixir l-Hamdullah. Smiti Nathalie. Ana mirikaniya. Ana xaddama mƐa hayat s-salam.” Translation: “Peace be upon you. How are you? Everything is fine with me, thanks be to God. My name is Nathalie. I am an American. I work with the Peace Corps”—Everybody now: Ooooohhh…..aaaahhhhhh…..Our Language and Cultural Facilitator (LCF) will be going with us to our Community-Based Training (CBT) sites where we’ll continue our formal language lessons and he’ll be introducing us to the community and teaching us about Moroccan customs, etc. So far we’ve learned from him that in under no circumstances should women ever approach any males in their community first lest he gets the wrong idea and think that she is wanting to go halvsies on a baby with him. Also, don’t invite any single males into your home for tea or whatever because they’ll get the same wrong idea.
Intro to Youth Development/Lesson Planning/etc: This is the boring stuff. It’s where they tell us why we’re here, what’s expected of us as Youth Development volunteers, objectives we have to hit, things we have to do, how to do them, yaddi, yaddi, yadda.
So as you can see, it’s been a looooooooot to take in. If nothing else, the Peace Corps is definitely very thorough in their training and preparing their volunteers for service. In addition to these sessions we also got lots and lots of shots to cover us should a plague were to break out or a rabid cat were to bite us or something (Morocco has a million stray cats…something about the prophet Mohammad having a pet cat in the Koran or something like that. I don’t know, I could be making that part up but I think I heard it somewhere. There are tons of cats here, though). By the end of Pre-Service Training (PST) I would have had six shots altogether. UGH! Also, something very weird has been happening to me here lately. Somehow I’ve been requiring waaaay more sleep than I ever did in life. Like for example, the other day I decided to lay down after lunch and accidentally took a 4 hour nap. I hate naps! Also the other night I slept from 8:30 pm all the way through 10:18 am (I know that’s quite precise but I know this because someone had to knock on my door to finally get me out of bed and gave me 10 mins to get dressed…thank goodness or else I probably would have been in bed all day). This ish is definitely cray. However there have also been times when I’ve been up from 2:30 am all the way through to breakfast, in which case I either just stare at the ceiling, think about sushi and pizza, or I watch 4 movies in a row to pass the time (thanks Aimee!). This morning I had a fever of 101…me thinks it’s because of all the shots they’ve given me so far. I feel a little better now though…All in all, life has been definitely interesting, different, but also fun and exciting. I really can’t complain for real because heck, I’m in Morocco!