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2/22/10 Chillin’ With Host Fam #1

Two years ago (almost exactly!), I came to Morocco. After a week or two of introductory stuff, they sent us to live with our CBT host families. (CBT = Community-Based Training, aka stage, aka Peace Corps with training wheels). Today, two weeks later, I’m back in my CBT village, visiting my first host family.

Journal Entry:

Hanging out with host fam tamzarut [the first]. Plus ca change… Here we all are, sitting around the little round table in the family room, writing stuff down...I'm not doing homework for language class, this time, just journaling, but my little sibs are doing their homework, and it just feels...right. :)

My little brother is now in the 7th grade (7th! Little munchkin’s in *middle school*!), but still illiterate in French. My little sister is in sixth grade, ready to head off to collège, and in the same unfortunate boat. They say that the French teacher here just gives them heads-down time during “French class”. She has a vocabulary notebook (“Just like yours!” she pointed out with a grin), full of misspelled words from where she couldn’t read her teacher’s handwriting and wasn’t allowed to ask for clarification. I fixed some of them, and helped her with tonight’s homework, but one evening’s tutorial feels a bit like filling the Marianas trench with a teaspoon. Are there Barney or Sesame Street DVDs for Arabic speakers, teaching French? Maybe a Baby Einstein immersion thing? They have a DVD player, but wouldn’t understand anything English based…

When I arrived in town, we hiked in from the main road, which we never did in stage – one perk of taxis over transits! I knew which direction to go from the path, but still managed to walk right past my house. The next hosue – blue door, white decorations – didn’t look right, though it did look familiar, and neither did the one after that. I finally tapped the Small Boy Network (our gaggle!), and asked for my little siblings by name. That got me to the right place. Turns out I’d been confused because of all the changes. Either from the funds Peace Corps provided in exchange for their hosting me, or from my older brothers’ work in the nearest big city (where one does construction and the other does cabinetry work), the family has done some major renovations. The door is on what was the back. The courtyard is a good 50% larger. The roof is now finished and accessible by stairs. The big empty lean-to room where the ewes went to have their lambs is now a fancy, plastered, wall-sconced room with big ponjs and carpets. From barn to zween entertaining hall in 21 months.

Hahah…Just now, I excused myself to go to the bit l-ma hashek (the bathroom). My little sister, who’d heard the story of how I couldn’t find their house from her brother and three other friends already (gotta love the gossip power of the Small Boy Network) asked, “Do you remember where it is?” I laughed. That’s still in the same place, right?” (Fortunately for my bewildered sense of direction, plumbing is hard to move, even rudimentary plumbing.) She laughed, and I laughed. Ah, the always-funny Berber jokes. :)

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