Friday, May 20, 2011

A Family Gathering

Last week we had a “family gathering” at my house that included all five of us volunteers in our CBT, plus members of everyone’s families, about 30 people altogether.

It was kind of a mid-CBT check-up to make sure things were going all right. We covered Peace Corps goals and some cultural issues and gave each side the chance to say if anything bothered them. As it turns out, nothing earthshaking. The Moroccans said that when we went to our rooms and stayed there for a little bit, they always wondered if they’d done something to offend us. We assured them they hadn’t, that we Americans are used to, and like, alone time. For our part, we said it was difficult to eat dinner so late at night. For some reason it’s been getting later than it was even at the beginning. At my house, dinner time has moved from about 9:00 to 11:00 or even later sometimes. For most of us, all we want to do is sleep by that time.

The great thing that came out of the gathering was simply that it happened. Our families really appreciated being asked to visit and talk about why we’re here, to be involved in our work.

For me the gathering was particularly valuable because my CBT village is where I’ll be permanently stationed for the next two years. I discovered that one of the fathers is a member of the Commune (the equivalent of a county commission). Some women talked about the need for an association to help women with literacy and other issues and the need for something for young people to do. Several middle-school aged kids came up to me afterwards and told me they really want to learn English. And I was able to identify a few people I think might be willing to partner with me in doing some projects. I’m receptive to all those ideas, so my immediate work is beginning to shape in my mind.

Last week we also had some hands on practice at make well assessments, which will be one of the things I will be doing early in my service. I’ve attached a couple of the photos I took as documentation of the assessments.

Right now I’m in Oz getting technical training in health education and prepping for our LPI (Language Proficiency Interview). This is something we have to do at the end of CBT and at various other intervals during our service. Language is one of the stress points in our training. Except for a couple of superstars, most of us feel pretty inadequate. We have to score at Novice High in order to pass out of CBT. We got a presentation on what that means exactly, and it was reassuring. I’m confident that I’m already speaking at that level (and I still have a week of training to go!). But it still doesn’t change the feeling of inadequacy in terms of being able to do the work we’re expected to do. Fortunately, we also get a tutoring allowance, so that we can continue our language study after CBT is over.

Well, only two weeks of PST (Pre-Service Training) left. One more week back in our villages, then five days back here in Oz,. Swearing in is on May 25, a big day in a Peace Corps volunteer’s service.

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