The day before yesterday, the guy who owns the cottage next door left a message on my cell phone saying he’d heard I was going into the Peace Corps and going to Morocco, and he wanted to tell me that he had served in the Peace Corps – in Morocco – 40 years ago. I called him back and, during a 10 minute conversation, he said numerous times in one way or another, “you’ll love it” and “it was an amazing part of my life.” We’ve made a date later this month for me to visit him at his home in Grand Rapids, where we can talk longer. He’s also going to show me some of his Morocco memorabilia.
It’s amazing to me the profound impact Peace Corps service has on people. They proudly display those RPCV initials with date and country once they’ve returned, they join “Friend of (name your country)” groups, and they feel an immediate kinship with other people who are drawn to Peace Corps service: they just want to talk to you about it!
I’m feeling some of the same thing, and I haven’t even gone yet. In my last post I mentioned that one of the other Morocco volunteers had contacted me by email. The next day, a young guy contacted me and said he’d set up a Facebook group for us Morocco March 2011 volunteers. He already had two others. I joined and notified the woman who’d emailed me, which made five. Since then, three more have joined. I was not down in the dumps by any means, but I can’t tell you how it lifted my spirits to make contact with other folk who will embark on this Moroccan enterprise with me next March.
Names, faces, a few bits of information – already they’re real people. The demographics? Mostly young, as you would expect, early 30s or younger for all but two of us; five women, three men. I seem to be the oldster so far. We’re starting to communicate – about service, books, and about language, French, Berber, and Moroccan Arabic, the learning of which will be a major challenge and source of anxiety for many, if not all of us. We’re not friends yet (except in the Facebook sense), but it’s a start, and It’s fun!