Saturday, September 27, 2008

CBT end of week 1

It's Saturday late afternoon/early evening, around 5:30. We finished our class today at 4:15 (yes, we have class Mon-Sat). My brain is full-needs processing time. That's what Sunday is for, right?

Well, I've made it a full week at my CBT site. It has been challenging, I must admit. We have "learned" 1/2 of a notebook full of vocabulary and the Arabic alphabet in the last 2 weeks. Yet we don't know how to conjugate a verb. Hmmm. Our textbook is really Peace Corps focused, ie; what do you need to know to get around and get things done in as fast a time as possible, right? Right now it feels overwhelming-so much to learn. Then the group of us remind one another of both how much we've learned already and that we can't expect to know all of it in 2 weeks. It is comforting to know that the 25-28 year olds that make up the other 5 in our group are feeling the same.

Today is the last Saturday of Ramadan, so it is a special day (but that's all I know about it). Some men were cutting up the meat of a fresh lamb in our courtyard today, but I think that's for other families. I'm led to believe that the live turkey that my host sister showed me in the bathroom is for us. Inshallah!

Now, this is after I had what I thought was an actual kinda conversation w/my host mother (ok, she's 35 years old!) last night where I got the point that there was a special feast coming up, but I was clear (in my limited Darija) that it was on Sunday, so I could do my laundry on Saturday. Darn-feeling like I can initiate some conversation, and got a big part of it wrong. This happens multiple times daily. I WANT TO BE ABLE TO SPEAK DARIJA AND HAVE A NORMAL CONVERSATION NOW! Whew-ok, thanks for letting me get that off my chest-it's been building up all week. I guess I'll be doing laundry on Monday (just in case something else really is happening on Sunday so I don't mess up family plans).

So now that I've vented, let me tell you about all the kids who yell out "Bonjour" when any of us walk by (think French influence-assumption that anyone not from here is from France)-just trying to be friendly. They don't know what to say when we reply "Sbah lixir! Labas?" (Good morning, are you well?). Or the guy at the hanut (shop), who happens to speak decent English, and has known prior Peace Corps volunteers, gives me my groceries (for breakfast and lunch tomorrow-to eat in my room, since the family is still fasting) w/o my paying the 32Dh, knowing I'll pay him later. I've already done so. Or the guy who has REAL chunks of what looks like gouda cheese (vs diet of Laughing Cow spreadable cheese) and DIET COKE! Wow. I'm happy-and sneaking swigs from the bottle as I type this in the "cybr"-don't want to offend the cybercafe owner-he's letting us bring in our own laptops and this speeds up our internet access significantly.

I thought I’d share a typical training day in CBT….
Get up at 6:30-6:45
7-8 Set up computer on mute and take into spare room in host family house to do Cardio Pilates workout.
8-8:15 Shower and dress. Doesn’t take long when you don’t do your hair or makeup!
8:30 Leave for class. A bit of a walk-either small hill but longer walk, or more direct but down steps into town and back up steep stairs (was told about 135 of them) to LCF’s rented house where we use her salon as our classroom
8:45-9:00 Breakfast. We have this here since our host families are fasting for Ramadan.
9:00-12:30 Language. Typically learning vocabulary for subject matter that will be relevant to future work. Peace Corps textbook on Darija/English/alphabet is the only one in existence-developed by former PCV. It takes an interesting approach-more relevant language, but not typical grammar and verb conjugations.
12:30-1:45 Lunch. We typically take the steep stairs down to the haunts to buy food for the next day’s breakfast and lunch, maybe other purchases. Eat together in kitchen of LCF house, share food and mint tea.
1:45-4:30 More language. Maybe learning how to write more of the Arabic alphabet. Maybe a session on PACA tools-those being used w/our artisanal group-weavers-to do Community Mapping, Daily and Yearly calendaring, etc. to understand their needs, strengths, history, etc. This will be used to develop project ideas.
4:30-5:30 Maybe the cyber. Maybe sit w/other volunteers and talk-we’ve adopted a café that one of the volunteer’s host dad’s works at (maybe owns? Amazing the basic facts we don’t have because we can’t talk very productively yet) where they’ll let women sit and talk. This is unusual-cafes are for men only. In fact, women aren’t really supposed to go out at night alone, although the men spend evenings at the café and young men prowl.
6:30 L-ftur (break fast meal) w/family.
7:00-11:00 Study, maybe go w/Khadija to visit her sister, to the hamam, others visit, play cards w/the kids, watch TV and try to pick up language.
11:00 I go to bed. The kids may or may not be asleep. Khadija is working in the kitchen making dinner. I won’t join them-too tired and don’t want to eat anymore that late.

OK, I'm off for now-can't wait to see what form the turkey is in when I get home, if we have any of the lamb, and if I have to stay up until 12:30 to see it-will be worthwhile to get the protein. Inshallah!

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