Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Taking Control

This is such an amazing journey. How many people have the opportunity, the time to be challenged, to learn, to reflect, to experiment, to stretch yourself daily. What a responsibility, what a privilege. But sometimes it's a pain in the a**.

I was in a bit of a funk the last month. My big projects wrapped up and I decided to give myself a break. The downside is that I lose my motivation when not challenged. It hits me from all sides.... Don’t feel like studying language today. Maybe I won’t work out today. Seeking out conversations to improve my language is a chore. I’ll do that internet search tomorrow. Stay cozy and warm in bed a little longer. Don’t think I’ll cook today. You know the drill. It can infiltrate your every thought and action. And the only way to change it is DIY. Do It Yourself.

I knew I needed to take action. With work. With my language. Again. And I really needed to do this before I leave for Christmas so I’m energized by what I have to come back to. Hamdullah it all came together yesterday and I’m back on track.

Sat down with Fatima and Zahra to review priorities and projects. I have plenty of ideas of what I could do, but I need to use my remaining time doing what is important to the Cooperative. We had a good discussion and agreed on what I’ll be working on: Helping them design the renovated showroom and office space that is about to start construction; Build a website for the Coop; Help them with budgeting and forecasting for financial and production planning; Start weekly business sessions with the women to expand their knowledge of the business of the Coop; Set up a diabetes screening and education program for the community. This is a good list, to which I’ll add the Craft Fairs in Marrakech and Rabat (ymkn Tanger) and the Regional Website project with Bouchra at Al Akhawayn University.

In addition, I reached out to a woman I was recently introduced to here in REK, who at one time was a language instructor for Peace Corps. Turns out that her family is from here and she’s moved back for a while. Since my current tutor, wonderful guy that he is, is distracted with personal issues, and our tutoring hasn’t been productive for a while, I need to find an alternative. Language is my Achilles heel. It is a self fulfilling prophecy. (Isn’t everything?) When I’m discouraged or not feeling confident w/my Arabic, I avoid it. And that of course doesn’t help me improve what I want most-regular, casual conversational Arabic. Thus my reaching out to another woman, right here in town, could help me with this casual language. I also made the rounds of “sympathetic interlocutors”, ie; friends who are patient w/my conversational Arabic. I'm still working on my reading and writing of Arabic to improve my pronunciation and comprehension. Side note is that I get a little thrill when I can read something in Arabic and know what it means!

Speaking of language, I’ve learned an important and timely “God phrase”. It is “Allah Yatakabal”. This is the appropriate thing to say to those who are returning from the Haj. And they are returning now. As I came into town Saturday night on the bus, there were 2 groups of people gathered to celebrate and parade with their loved ones and friends who have just completed the Haj. If you ask most people here “where would you go if you had unlimited money?” most would reply “nmshi l-Haj”. It is extremely expensive, and even if you can afford it, there is a lottery to participate, and most are never selected. Anyone who completes the pilgrimage to Mecca are bestowed the title “Haj” for the remainder of their days in honor of their devotion. I asked one of the PC staff about the appropriate greeting upon seeing someone for the first time after they return. My Ministry Delegate went this year and I need to know how to greet him when I meet with him tomorrow. Allah Yatakabal Ayichi!

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