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Around and Around

my staj at In-Service Training (most of us, anyway)
They say that you only appreciate the value of a thing or a place or a person after it is taken away from you.

Bull, I say. Often enough, you know just how much it's going to hurt even before the separation happens.

Take a look at these people. Do you see them? Do you see me? Well I'm near the back, center-left. Now, stop looking at me and look at the group again. These are most of the people that came into Morocco with me back in March.

I like many of them, but I love only a few. Undoubtedly, I would love more if I only had spent more time with them, gotten to know them better, but things work one way and not the other, who can say what would have happened if etc etc.

I'm thinking about these people because I have been remarkably lucky this past month to have spent so much time with them. The above picture is from a week of In-Service Training (IST) conducted in Marrakech with my entire staj.

After IST, I ascended Jbel Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa (13,700 ft).


me and my best friend - the highest couple in North Africa
Before these two things, I was living the life in Agadir for a library workshop. Besides learning how to make a library happen in my site, I spent lots of fun times on the beach with the people closest to me.

And before that, long ago, I coordinated a summer camp in Azilal along with three of my favorite people in the country (the fourth showed up for the last couple of days).

teaching the kids about neat nature stuff
 After the camp, I saw some beautiful cascades with these people.


3/8 of our CBT group
I love these moments. When you hear me say I like being in Morocco, what I mean is that I like these kinds of moments. Honestly, the love hasn't struck me where it counts yet - in my site. With the Host Country Nationals.

Things could change. School is in session now, and I have an excellent chance to make some friends in my site. (God how I need friends in my site.) I'll start with some English classes this month, maybe a little tech club.

I want to put a library in my Dar Chabab. These kids have no library close by.

I want to start a CLIMB program. It's an outdoor education program culminating in the ascent of Toubkal.

I want to start an astronomy club. Easy.

I want to start a media club - radio, video, journalism.

Eventually, I want to start something like a debate club. If I could pull this off, this would be my big legacy in PC Morocco. I want it to happen in multiple sites, and I want to see a debate tournament happen before I leave country. I have at least one friend who is interested in pursuing this idea with her kids as well.

In the meantime, I'm going to shed the weight that I've gained and reclaim my fitness. Despite being chased by a pack of feral dogs, I still run regularly in my site, and I still do Mullers. And I'll be damned if I don't learn French while I'm in a French-speaking country.

Then there are the times that I think, "None of this will happen. I won't be in this country long enough to do any of these things."

Those of you who have talked with me know that I am struggling. Emotions are at once our salvation (for they remind us of our humanity) and a curse (for they threaten our sanity). Since coming back to site, two feelings have been playing in me: sadness and a panicky fear.

The good news is that neither of these is depression, which is what I felt a good deal of the time before September. The bad news is that I'm sad and fearful. Sad because I know I'll be away from the people I care about most for a long time. We can think that we'll see each other a lot throughout our service, but in reality, we'll probably only see each other nine or ten times before we split apart and go back to the United States. We have maybe twenty or twenty-five days of togetherness to look forward, separated by vast stretches of loneliness.

Panic because I suspect my emotions are going to turn on me at any moment and cut me down, strip me of my vigor, and leave me in a state of lethargy and depression.

Until that happens, I'll try to get some pictures of my town posted on this blog. And I'll try dancing. Dancing usually helps. And here's one last picture to lighten the mood.

this is how I auction myself off
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