Term of Today: 3iyan

Before my Christmas post, I hadn’t contributed any content to my blog for nearly a month. I’d like to say my negligence is due to my intense attempts at integration into my community, meeting leaders and forming strong bonds with the youth, but… that’s not really the case.

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Mainly, I’m just really 3iyan – tired. (For an explanation of how to pronounce this word, see my first language post.)

There is a lot on my plate right now. I can’t deny that. But in all honesty I have a lot of time to do everything. That includes napping two hours a day.

Lesson Planning. Using the information and techniques I learned through PC training, I prepare lessons each week for two formal English classes at my dar shabab and a basketball-based English class at my sports complex. Usually one lesson plan takes an hour to write in addition to assembling or making necessary pictures, drawings, and activities for the lessons.

Lessons. Then there are the lessons themselves. The two English classes are one and a half hours each, once a week. In the beginner’s class there are around 15 students, and in the advanced class there are usually closer to 20. I should mention that these classes are actually Steven’s, the other volunteer in my site who has been here for two years. While he is on Christmas vacation in America, I am substituting for him. The basketball-based English class is mine, however, and I expect around 20 young boys to participate each week.

House Hunting. While I continue integrating and developing relationships, I am also looking for houses. I must move out of my host family’s house on February 1st. So far I have seen four options and will see the fifth next week. Stay tuned for a blog post specifically about house hunting!

Bureaucratic Work. As part of my work, I must monitor, report, and evaluate my activities. So far this hasn’t taken much of time because I am just beginning, but soon I will have to supply PC Morocco headquarters with detailed information about the number of youth developing or enhancing skills. This eventually will reach PC’s Washington, DC headquarters and then Congress.

Multimedia Committee. I was elected by my staj to serve on the newest of PC Morocco’s committees – the Multimedia Committee. Three others and myself will soon take over for the previous staj and run the upcoming PC Morocco Facebook page, make short videos about Volunteer initiatives and lifestyles, design technology handbooks, and help our fellow Volunteers with any ICT (information, communication, and technology) requests.

So… yes, ana 3iyan. I am tired. I am very tired, but it is so worth it.

l-3id noel (Christmas Holiday)

The Christmas season in Morocco is a strange time. I say strange because Christmas really is just another day for Muslims here. I say strange because I didn’t spend it with my parents. I say strange because I traveled more than usual.

And yet… everyone I’ve run into in my site knows about Christmas and its significance to Christians. This does stand to reason: Jesus, in Islam, is recognized as a prophet, while in Christianity he is the son of God. In fact, Muslims and Christians believe in the same god, they just worship him differently.

Other than religious purposes, of course, Christmas is significant in American for cultural purposes. Perhaps that is why my host family didn’t have any questions when I told them I was celebrating l-3id noel with volunteers in another city. The following weekend – the actual Christmas weekend – they didn’t ask any questions when I said I was celebrating again in another city with other volunteers.

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And what a pair of Christmases it was! The first weekend was full of cookies, pasta, Christmas music, ornament drawing, and tree decorating (see photo above). The ten of us did a white elephant gift exchange; I got a French press! Christmas weekend was quieter – I and three others sat around, watching movies and TV shows, eating far too many knock-off Oreos, and singing pop song karaoke.

While Christmas in Morocco can’t quite compare to Christmas in America, it was comforting spending it with other Americans who were in the same situation as me. Here’s to the upcoming New Year!