I've reached the stage in my training where I get to go visit a current Peace Corps volunteer, and spend a few days seeing her work. She works with a local association that's supposed to be excellent, plus she tutors, works with a school, and does...I don't even know what, but I'll find out soon. :)
I'll be travelling with other volunteers, but without any of our staff. This is one of the many ways in which they aim us for the deep end and ask us to swim. We'll get to navigate local transit and find our way from here to there, on our own. I've learned the requisite phrases in Tamazight, plus I can take advantage of the Darija speakers who we'll be with for the first leg of the trip...and if necessary, I can pull out the French. It's very handy, but I like the idea of leaning on the Tamazight. I'm pretty sure I'll learn it faster that way. :)
Last night, a COSing volunteer came to talk with us. She works with the Volunteer Advisory Counsel, which means that she's travelled all over Morocco, talked to every current volunteer and staffer, and pretty much knows everything. We've been picking her brain on all sorts of topics, and it's been wonderful. She has funny stories, inspiring stories, and plenty of sobering accounts, too. It's an education. One of her big accomplishments - she has gotten the shopkeepers in her nearby souk-town (aka a weekly gathering place for all the local villages) to stop giving out plastic bags with the groceries. In fact, they tend to lecture people who ask for them. These plastic bags are a tremendous littering problem, plus a nationwide eyesore, so the fact that she's gotten Moroccans to teach Moroccans about why not to use them...is pretty fabulous.
Plus, I got questions this week. (I love getting questions!) Here they are, with answers:
Does your host family speak Tamazight or Darija?
Tamazight. That's why they sent me to that village - to continue my language training via immersion.
Are the peacecorps folks who are learning other languages in other villages?
Yup. That's why they're using this region of Morocco - it has villages within driving distance that speak all the major languages that Peace Corps is using right now. In previous years, they have used a different mix of languages and were located elsewhere.
What does Abdelbast mean in English?
No idea. I'll try to find out.
How goes the Tamazight language training? Are you able to use it with the family or is it too soon?
Shweea-b-shweea. Imiq-s-imiq. Which are different ways of saying "Little by little." As my Language and Culture Facilitator (aka teacher) says, "Practice makes progress." I used some Tamazight with the family, along with lots of smiles and charades, but used French with the older brothers when I ran into problems (which was pretty frequently!).
I'm very glad to hear that you all have a common language in French and that you have a baby to play with all the time.
We don't all have French - just the kids. Mma and my sister-in-law don't know any French, and the littler kids only know "Hello" and the numbers, more or less. But yes, I do love playing with the baby!
Does Mma speak English?
Not a word. Nor do any of the others, although the teenage brother is working on a few phrases he asked me to translate for him. "Let's go hang out in the fields" was one; "Come and drink tea" was another. It's interesting to see what his priorities are...
9 months ago