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5/30/08 Project progress!

Yeah! I accomplished something today! I know that it’s entirely normal not to accomplish anything tangible during the first few months of Peace Corps service; we’re integrating into our communities, building relationships, etc. That’s why I’m actually keeping a log of how many people I’ve had tea with. (It’s already almost 100. OK, yes, it’s because Ama keeps a busy social calendar, not because of any wonderful strides I’ve made with the community. Also, several of those are repeats – the next door neighbor comes over at least once a day – but still, I’m becoming a known quantity.) And I keep telling myself that the time I spend blogging for y’all counts towards working on the third goal of Peace Corps, which is to inform Americans about peoples and cultures of the world.

But I got to do something *tangible* today. I’m so excited.

When I went to meet with the Education Delegue down in the capital city of the province, waaay back on Monday, I brought a letter for his signature. It would have granted me the right to work with the schools in the area (as my Peace Corps staff and K** both want). The delegue himself was absent, but his vice-delegue (deputy delegue? It was in French and Arabic, so I was a little confused) asked me to put with the letter a programme outlining what I want to do. Which is an entirely reasonable request. I explained that I don’t have a fixed plan, and that I’m hoping to work with the teachers to determine what our next steps will be. He told me to write that down as my programme. Since it’s going to be serving an official purpose, I didn’t just want to scribble a note down, so I told him I’d fax him a document in the future – as in, after I’d gotten back to my laptop in Berberville, had a chance to figure out what to say, let alone how to say it in French, and then run it past the various involved parties.

Since then, in reviewing the full text of the Peace Corps / Morocco Environmental Education Plan, I’ve discovered that there is actually a fixed plan. Well, “fixed” is an overstatement. It’s very flexible, but it has been created by my program staff in collaboration with the Water and Forestry Department, and provides an outline for Volunteer interactions with the schools.

So I just spent the afternoon figuring out how to adapt the four-part plan into one list of activities that I’ll undertake…and how to explain it all in French. With abundant help from my new French-English dictionary (which smells like the mustier floors of my grad school library) and the translation tool in MS Word, I was actually able to put together something that might actually work.

Wow, that’s two actuallys in one sentence. OK, so I have a few doubts.

But I’ll bring this document with me to my next (scheduled) meeting with my counterpart K**, and with my language tutor (who is also fluent in French) H**, and if it flies with them I’ll fax it to my program staff. If they approve it, too, I’ll fax it to the delegue’s office and inshallah receive permission to do what I’ve been asked to do. :)

But all that will wait until Monday, when I’m back in SouqTown. For today, I just wrote a page of French that I think makes sense, and that makes me feel happy. Yeah! I accomplished something! :D

Now if I could just work up the nerve to ask Ama some of the questions on the plant survey, I’d have a *lot* to show K** at our meeting…

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Think local. Act global. Learn more about the Peace Corps