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5/23/09 Word of the Day: Newbie

As you know, a Peace Corps Volunteer serves for two full years, in addition to their 2-3 months of training. As you also know, Morocco has four kinds of PCVs, which arrive for their training in two batches: Health PCTs and Environment PCTs arrive in March, while Small Business Development PCTs and Youth Development PCTs arrive in September.

As a result, there is a new batch of Trainees every six months, and therefore a new batch of freshly-sworn-in Peace Corps Volunteers also every six months, swearing-in in May and November, respectively.

Well, until now.

Peace Corps Morocco's upper eschelons decided sometime last year that they'd completely rearrange training. Now, it's only two months long, and focuses exclusively on learning the Moroccan languages and cultural traditions. All "technical training", aka how to *be* a Health/Environment/SBD/YD Volunteer, will come three months after the Trainees swear in, as they're ending their home stays and moving into their own homes.

Since this change was made recently, the newest batch of PCVs are the only ones who have gone through this newly redesigned training. They swore-in in April. Shockingly early, I know. ;) The soon-to-depart COSing Volunteers swore-in in late May of 2007, so their service doesn't end till late May, 2009.

Which gives us a solid month of overlap between the arrival of the newest batch and the departure of the oldest batch.

Given the six-month cyclicity of service, PCVs here have appropriated the terms Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior. Once you swear in, you're a Freshman. But no one ever really uses Freshman - the other three are far more common - when they can use newbie. Six months later, when a new batch swears in, you're suddenly a Sophomore. Etcetera. But these terms are only really ever used right around swearing-in, when you'll hear lots of comments like, "Oh, my goodness, how can I be a Junior already!"

The rest of the time, we just refer to ourselves as "First-Year" or "Second-Year" Volunteers, usually by sector. That is, now that I've passed the one-year anniversary of my own swearing-in, I'm officially a Second-Year Environment Volunteer.

Last week, I was still a First-Year....sort of.

Because the newbies have been here for a month already. And they're the real First-Years.

So our lexicon has become a bit addled.

The solutions appears to be referring to our newest PCVs as newbies. And the ones about to reach their Close Of Service are the COSing Volunteers or just the COSers.

My cohort have sort of fallen through the linguistic cracks. As of two days ago, we're the new Second-Years, but even that hasn't worked all that well, because no one dares utter the blasphemous old Second-Years, and Third-Year is just silly. Once the COSers close out their service next week, everything will shake back out, and I'll be a Second-Year and the newbies will all be First-Years, and all will again be right with the world.

For now, I'll just wait out this month-long limbo, where there are three sets of Environment and Health Volunteers scattered throughout the country. Like all things, this too shall pass.

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