Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Good Week

When I got back to my village on Monday, my host family had already heard the news that I’d been placed there permanently. They were pleased, but when I told them that the assignment made me very happy, they were overjoyed. We immediately had tea (of course) and began talking about places I might live. Soon I was up on the roof with one of my sisters, looking across a dip in the landscape at a house with a yellow door at the top of the hill opposite us. Close enough, she said, so we could see each other and visit often. That evening, I took a walk through town. I got a warm welcome from everyone I told about my permanent assignment to the town. It was a great way to begin my week at my permanent site.

I got a lot done this week, but the best thing about it was being able to experience village on my own, to follow my own schedule and go where I wanted to go, even to take a nap if I wanted, which I did nearly every day. My two favorite moments occurred yesterday (Friday).

In the morning, Mohammed, my father went with me to look at my prospective house. I liked it. If I get it, I'll tell you all about it and show you inside photos. Afterward, I tagged along as he walked through his fields. He grows a wide variety of crops – wheat, barley, corn, and grass for the livestock; almonds, figs, and olives; beans and other vegetables; and roses.

It was a treat to be able to see the fields through his eyes – what was ready to be harvested, what had not produced as well as he’d hoped. We ate some beans from one patch, and he picked roses that were blooming. It turns out I’m in another festival town. Kalaa, my market town has a Rose Festival each May that is widely known in Morocco and Europe and attracts huge crowds (shades of Tulip Time and Coast Guard Festival).

In the afternoon, I walked to Kalaa with my youngest brother, Rachid, the “free spirit.” He’s just twenty-one and he’s going to driving school. Just like kids in the States, he’s pretty excited about getting his license. On the way there, we practiced English. “It’s hard,” he said. He also told me he’d really like to go to back to school (he went only through eighth grade). I said, “So, go.” He looked at me a bit skeptically, the desire to go and the cultural norms of obedience warring in him. I dropped him at the driver’s training school. When we met up later, he took me back to the school and introduced me to the director and one of the teachers, who immediately started badgering me to teach them English. On the way home, Rachid took me a little out of the way – there was a wedding, he said. When we got there, I could tell he really wanted to stay (weddings are the big social events here), so I told him I would go on alone. He took me to the turn to make sure I would not get lost, then headed back to the party. I didn’t see him come in last night, and I didn’t see him at breakfast this morning. I’m sure he had a good time.

The big thing I discovered this week was the great hunger among adults to learn English. The high school students practice their English on us all the time, but I hadn’t realized adults wanted it, too. There was the driver’s ed school. But I also had men in two different associations tell me they wanted to learn English for their work with tourists. And my host sisters, who want to learn it “just because.” So I now know what my first “secondary project” will be – teaching conversational English to adults - incha’allah. Besides providing my community members something they really want, it will provide me a great vehicle for “integration,” something essential for any other work I do here.


  1. I enjoy reading your blog. So glad you are happy there. What a wonderful experience.

  2. Thank you, Jim. Sharing your new family with us, is such a blessing. You are in our prayers.


  3. Hey Grandpa!
    Yesterday we had a Easter party at my house and the whole Dana family was here! We all sat around my dining room table and read your blog. Everyone misses you and we wanted to tell you that you look like your having a TON of fun! Thanks for updating us often. It makes us feel like we are there with you. Let us know when we can start to send you snail mail. Thanks so much!

    Love always and be safe,