"Shwiya b shwyia" is Darija (Moroccan Arabic) for “little by little.” It’s how things get done in Morocco … and it's how I'm progressing as a Peace Corps volunteer here, working in youth development.
Friday, October 31, 2008
This just in: I know where I’m going.
Photo from a local wedding procession.
We learned our site placements this afternoon; didn’t realize just how anxious I’ve been until I felt the wave of relief when I learned about my town and the surrounding area.
For security purposes I can’t blog my exact location – email me privately if you want more info! – but I will be way down south, about an hour inland from the coastal resort city of Agadir. Hot climate, near a beach and less than five hours from Marrakesch – how did I manage to score this?
My site is quite small, only 3,000 residents, but it’s flanked by two good-sized cities, so I should have everything I need close to hand. The town is surrounded by orange farms; the current volunteer there tells me I’ll have all the free oranges and clementines I can eat. Sounds heavenly. Other local agricultural endeavors include honey and argan oil, an expensive oil used for cooking and for facial creams.
As soon as I read the current volunteer’s description, I this is the right town for me. Thought I wanted a large community, but small suddenly sounds more manageable (especially knowing I can easily get to a city when I need something). The dar chebab is very active when it comes to boys, but there are opportunities aplenty to encourage girls and young women to get involved. There’s also an active nedi neswi, or women’s center.
I will be only the second Peace Corps volunteer the town has ever had. The current volunteer is very enthusiastic and says my host family can’t wait to meet me. Very few people in town speak English; that sounds daunting, but she says she managed just fine despite having little Darija at first.
It’ll be a busy week – meeting my new host family, seeing the local dar chebab, starting the paperwork for my Moroccan work card and bank account, finding a Darija tutor and learning my way around town. And, of course, staying up all night Nov. 4 for the U.S. election results.
Inshallah, I’ll also be setting up a post-office box – so bring on those care packages! And I may have jumped the gun on my pleas for Polarfleece and wool socks; I’ll scope the situation out and let you know. I’ll have to email the address to y’all privately rather than post my exact whereabouts here.
Can’t wait to meet my new home; I’ll post an update to introduce you as soon as I’m able. May be awol for a while in the meantime, but don’t worry – I’m on top of my game and couldn’t be more excited. Frxhna bzzf! (I’m very excited) (And I’ll be warm!)
We had a final party with all of our families before leaving our community-based training site. They dressed us to the nines in caftans and costume jewelry. I find it difficult to feel attractive in such heavy, bulky fabrics, but everyone gasped when we entered the room. Good fun. Lots of pastries. Lots of slightly hshuma dancing.
This is me with my Hajja and her youngest daughter, Khadija. “Formidable” is the best word to describe Hajja. She’s a force – in her community, in any room she enters. Very religious and conservative, yet also extremely laid back (“Self-service!” she’d call to me me in broken English when I arrived home late every evening, pointing me toward the kitchen) and very, very drifa (kind). I’ll miss her.
Quote of the day.
Htta haja masa3iba: “Nothing is hard.” – the owner of the shop where I had some photos printed.
(I would say that he’s obviously never tried to learn another language, but he taught himself English via books and “Dr. Phil”)
I can't post my mailing address or phone number here (for security reasons), but send me an email or leave a blog comment with your contact info, and I'll let you in on the top-secret digits.
I'm also on Skype!
FYI for phone calls: Morocco is 6 hours ahead of Central Standard Time.
Wish list for my dar chebab
ESL picture dictionaries or workbooks
Elementary-level books; beginner novels
DVDs (esp. Wal-E, High School Musical, appropriate kid movies, especially sports themes; cartoons)
Chess/checkers (very cheap @ Target)
Pingpong balls and paddles
Deflated soccer balls or plastic balls
Craft and beading supplies
Darija: Moroccan Arabic Salaam u 3alaykum: “Peace be upon you” (greeting) Wa 3alaykum ssalam: "And upon you peace as well” M’slama: Goodbye (“With peace”) Labas?: Are you well? Kulshi bixir: Everything is great Dar: House Dar chebab: Youth center
Mudhir: Director Shkrn: Thank you WaHHa: OK Mzyn: Good Bzzf: A lot; too much Shwya: Little; less; not enough Inshallah: God willing (“I hope”)
Frxhn: Happy Hshuma: Shameful
The opinions expressed on this blog are my own and do not represent the views of the Peace Corps, the U.S. government, the Moroccan government or any other institution.