A Day In The Life: Conference Edition

Peace Corps is known for its 3-month Community-Based Training at the beginning of a volunteer’s service. Sometimes people forget that there are other conferences, trainings, and workshops available throughout one’s service.

Every volunteer, no matter the country nor sector must attend the following:

CBT or Community Based Training: Scheduled the first 10 weeks to 3 months in country. This training includes language, cultural, and technical support.

IST or In-Service Training: Scheduled after that staging group’s 3rd month in site. This training consists of additional cultural and technical support that wasn’t covered during CBT. After this training, volunteers are allowed to travel out of site and can take vacation days if they wish.

MST or Mid-Service Training: Scheduled around that group’s swearing in date but could be delayed by 2 months. At this training, volunteers will have their annual medical and dental evaluations. This training will focus on the reflection of your 1st year of service and help you think about your 2nd-year plans.

COS or Close of Service Conference: Scheduled 3 months before your end of service. At this conference you apply for/receive your official leave date, reflect on your 2 years of service and prepare for life as an RPCV.

Each country and sector will have other workshops and training that are more specific to the service of the volunteer. I have been to the following: IFY Passport to Success Training, Amazigh Language Training, Regional Meeting, and Thanksgiving/Get Flu Shot Dinner.

Others available that I did not attend include the Library Workshop, Health Workshop, PP&D Workshop, Wellness Retreat, Gender, and Development Training, etc.

Without further adieu, here is a sample day in the life of one of these types of events in Peace Corps Morocco. This schedule is part of the COS Conference for Staj 96 2014-2016 (my group).

Breakfast

Session 1- Representing your Service
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Break
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Session 2: Visit from the Ambassador

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Session 3 – RPCV Panel
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Lunch

Session 4 – Service Reflection
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Break
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Session 5 – Resources for Jobs and Graduate School
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Dinner – On your own
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Shopping ( if you want)
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Volunteers in other countries: Does this sound familiar? Maybe your training is different? Please comment your answers below.

Tr3mendous Love,
Renee

Blogging Abroad's Boot Camp Blog Challenge: Starting January 2015

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Christmas in Morocco: Celebration of the Prophets

I took a week off of work to visit my host family and other volunteers the week of Christmas. It wasn’t until right before I left that I was told that Thursday (Dec. 24th) was the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday. I think it’s a beautiful coincidence that two of the most popular religions celebrated their leaders during the same time in 2015.

Here I want to share some moments with my host family during the Prophet’s birthday:

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Later that day (Dec. 24th) I traveled to other volunteer’s site to celebrate Christmas:

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Tr3mendous Love,
Renee

My Parents Came to Morocco!

May 29-June 3rd: My parents decided to visit Morocco and I. It’s been over a year since I’ve seen them in person. Sometimes Skype just isn’t enough.

We stayed a night in Casablanca before heading down to my site.

Once in my site we ate soooo much food! My parents cannot handle a lot of carbs but they enjoyed themselves anyway. Mom was fascinated by everything. I was happy they were able to see my suq. It’s nothing super special but there’s a lot of variety for a small town.

On Tuesday, we went to Merzouga. We were supposed to going camel trekking by we went during the low peak time and the camels were only going in the evening. We climbed the dunes, gathered some sand to take home, and had tea. We went to Rissani for lunch and Mom did some shopping and bought a pink kiftan. Later on their last day in at Casablanca, Mom also bought a jebador and some other outfits and souvenirs.

Their last night in, we ate Hirrara, washed off the sand from the desert, and hopped on a night bus back to Casablanca.

I enjoyed having them here. I miss them so much.

Tr3mendous Love,

Renee

Taking Blood Pressure in Kelaa M’Gouna

This was a new experience. I’ve never taken blood pressure before. Of course, I’ve had my own taken by a nurse or doctor for check ups and I never understood what the numbers meant. As long as the doctor said it was good, then that’s all I needed to know.

DSCN2315I was the first volunteer to arrive the Wednesday before the Rose Festival for the TOT, Training of Trainers. The training was simple enough, thank goodness. There were other volunteers who did this last year or at some other festival. We had electronic as well as manual machines. The electronic ones were so simple: wrap it around the wrist or upper arm, turn it on and let it do its magic. The wrist machine was awesome to have for taking women’s blood pressure since it didn’t force them to push their sleeves up too much or need to remove clothing.

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I actually enjoyed using the manual devices once I had some practice with them. I felt so official; like I was a real nurse or something. We, the volunteers, were asked other medical questions since the Moroccans thought we were real doctors. We had to recommend to them to go to the hospital or clinic for their questions.DSCN2329

Besides the Rose Festival, Kelaa M’Gouna is known for its Dagger Co-operatives. They make the traditional curved daggers and swords, that were used by the Amazigh people. I bought several for myself, family and friends.

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Tr3mendous Love,

Renee

Buying Amazigh Carpets

Since my parents are coming at the end of May, I convinced them to take a suitcase full of souvenirs home with them. First stop is Taznakht for carpets and rugs. My staj mate, Nia lives here and helped me find the co-operatives that sold the carpets and had good prices. I went to Taznakht thinking I would get 3-4 carpets…I bought 9. However, I did end up reselling two to other volunteers. I knew I wanted relatively small carpets meaning no more than 2 meters maximum and that’s pushing it.

All of the carpets pictured below are ones that I bought:

*MAD: Moroccan Dirham- about 9.6 to $1 and 10 to 1 Euro

*Double Face: meaning it looks the same of both sides so it doesn’t matter which side is up.

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400MAD: Mosaic Style
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200MAD: 2m, sold to another PCV
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300MAD: 2 meters
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300MAD: 1.5meter, Double Face, Sold to another PCV
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150MAD: less than a meter
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200MAD: Map Style, Double Face, 1m
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200MAD: 1m

Bonus Pictures of awesome murals:

Tr3mendous Love,

Renee

Blacked Out Snow Days

A vlog and photo gallery describing the experience of my PC site receiving snow for the first time in years and the side effects…

Tr3mendous Love,

Renee

What Had Happened Was… | January

This year, I’m starting a new series titled, ‘What Had Happened Was.’ This will be a month in review post to show things that I might not have blogged about and to sum up what I did that month.

What had happened in January was…

~I was in Rabat for Medical off and on for about 3 weeks. I’m proud that this was the first time I had to go to Rabat for Medical and I’ve been in country a year already. This is the volunteer lounge where I spent much time using the WiFi between appointments.

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~I did get a helmet while in Rabat. Unfortunately, I left it on the bus when I got to site…oops.DSCN1937

~My last day in Rabat, I went to Sushi Box and had this lovely Bento Box for lunch before heading back to site.DSCN1934

~ I took this picture from the bus on the way home. I just want people to know that IT DOES SNOW IN MOROCCO!20150123_095951~The day after I get home, I find a concert in my Dar Chabab! There was singing and skits were performed.20150125_155512

~Once I was finally able to stay in site, one of my host-family members was able to install my hot water heater; Yay for hot running water!!!

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~While back in site, I was also able to, finally, find a bike and a heater. I bought them from a nearby city. Peace Corps reimburses us for these purchases, however, you have to have previous Country Director approval before purchasing a bike and a volunteer must buy a heater their first winter in order to be reimbursed.DSCN1947

~I did make a post about Care Packages. This is a package from my parents. It actually arrived the day after Christmas but I was at a PCV  party in Figuig, then I got sick and left for Rabat. So I didn’t ‘receive’ it until January.

Jan. 2015 Christmas Gift from Mom and Dad.
Jan. 2015 Christmas Gift from Mom and Dad.

~ This is my homemade Christmas with the new additions of Christmas cards and lights from the care package above.  I had a long Christmas celebration!

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~ Finally, I treated myself to a DIY at home spa day and decided to straighten my hair. I did straighten it for Thanksgiving but it rained in Rabat so it got super puffy.

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Thanksgiving Hair
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January Hair

Tr3mendous Love,

Renee