Rich, Peace Corps, and Looking Forward
I am officially a Peace Corps Volunteer now! Up to this point I have been in training but I have now sworn to uphold the constitution and such and am a full fledged volunteer. Our group swearing in even made the national news!
I’ve now been in my new site for a little over a week and I’m glad to say that I really like it. It’s actually a lot like the Moroccan version of Fort Collins. It’s about an hour north of the nearest big city, Errichidia, and is just a little ways into the Atlas Mountains. The first thing you notice about Rich is the incredible mountain views all around the city.
It is a truly beautiful city! It is slightly bigger than I would have imagined heading into the Peace Corps but that also means that there is a lot of work to be done. The youth at the Dar Chebab (Youth Center) are pretty engaged and want to learn and you get the impression that if they just had a few more opportunities that they would really thrive. I’ll get a chance to see if that is the case first hand in the coming two years. Also, I am now a resident here and have my very own mailing address:
Peace Corp Volunteer
Taylor (Elias) Dunn
Province De Midelt
If you take the time to send me a letter I promise to do the same!
My site mate, Galen, has been in Rich for a little over a year and a half and he is a great resource and has done some really great projects. In the coming weeks I will be taking over about half of his classes at the Dar Chebab and we will also be working on a project to build a couple of parks/gardens around town. Women in Rich don’t have much opportunity to gather outside of the home, but public gardens are an exception and we hope that by bringing a couple of new gardens to some neighborhoods that it will encourage more activity in the areas.
I am really amazed at the amount of new things that I do every day. I wish I could write about every experience that I have here. Random walks to the bus station turn into expeditions through ancient Kasbahs. Visiting a family for an hour can turn into an adventure that leads to three Moroccans and myself pushing an out-of-gas motorcycle/truck down the highway at 3:oo in the morning. A fishing trip turns out to be a trip to a beautiful lake for a day of swimming and sun. It’s really unbelievable how much I have had the opportunity to experience in such a short time.
Of course, I am not just here to travel and have adventures. I am also here to make a small difference in the lives of others and spread the goodwill of the American people to the country of Morocco. In this respect, I think the Peace Corps is worth its weight in gold. I have had conversations about economic policy, Israel, Egypt, democracy, terrorism, family, and friends. Each conversation brings people closer to understanding each other. There are people in this country that think all Americans have maids and don’t know how to do anything worthwhile. I’m constantly struck by how much international relations have been accomplished without me having done any actual work to this point. WHY ARE WE NOT FUNDING THIS MORE?!?!
For the next couple of months I will be working my hardest to learn the language. It’s a bit of a wakeup call to be dropped into a city where you don’t really know anyone and have to rely on your own language skills to get by. I have pretty much failed at this point. I feel like my language is not going well right now and that I will need to make a serious effort to get where I need to be.
I also will be house hunting for the next couple weeks in hopes that I can find a place of my own before Christmas. While living with a family is great way to integrate, I am in desperate need of my own house with my own bathroom and my own cooking. It’s just really hard to get into any sort of a routine when you rely on someone else for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Let me know if you like the slideshow better than the other way. Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving, please let me know how you are doing, if not in the comments then send an email my way!
That’s all for now but a little quote on the way out…
“ I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether it is of the devil or of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded that it is the chief end of man here to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.”
Henry David Thoreau