So, we have been in our CBT (community based training) site approximately 25 days, eating Moroccan food, experiencing Moroccan customs first-hand (a 3 day wedding, among other things!), and speaking Moroccan Arabic. Well, at least we're learning the language...in four days, we will part with this small town in the Middle Atlas Mountains and return to our Seminar Site, 120km northwest of here. It has been very eye opening to see the differences and similarities of Moroccan and American lifestyles, especially regarding the differences of food and sense of space and the similarites of humor and family ties.
Some days, it feels like I have no language ability, but then other days, I'll manage to hold my own in a conversation, even cracking a few jokes here and there.
Overall, the experience has been fairly easy. Maybe it's because our family is very patient with our broken, slurred words and incomplete sentences. Maybe it's because we're not yet fully alone. We have not only each other, but we are also with 5 other American Peace Corps Trainees and an awesome LCF that speaks pretty good English.
It helps that we've had successes: Emily has an enthusiastic Moroccan projectmate, Aziza, who is eager to learn new ways of crafting her bags to make them more useful. Emily is applying many skills in this project, including design, sewing, and, of course, language. Take a look at one of the maquettes, resembling Aziza's bags, that Emily made.
And a sketch of a pattern that Emily used to create a maquette.
Emily's main design modification is the addition of the bottom, which gives the bag more volume and usability. Hopefully, this project will not only influence Aziza and the other weavers of the association, but it will also increase the value of the bags.
And I have been collaborating with an artist named Mohammed. Mohammed is a very prolific painter, sculptor, and comic art creator/designer. He paints murals and has contributed politial drawings to a few local newspapers ("jurnalat" in Darija). I discovered, however, that he has never photographed, catalogued, or recorded any information concerning his artwork. So, I have been working with him in photographing his work, naming it, and producing a catalog. The plan is that he can use these skills to archive his own works and the works of his art association. Now that the association has a website, this information can be put online, increasing the likelihood of sales.
In a future post, I'll include the website that one of our CBT groupmates created, which will feature photographs of the artisans' works.
All for now. Unfortunately, we will be leaving the awesome internet of our site's PCV. So I don't know when we'll be able to post alot of pictures. While the bandwidth's nice and fat, here are a few:
Emily in her wedding Khaftan (sp?)
Dung beetle. After all, there are alot of donkeys!
Emily and I in front of our beloved CBT site!
A quick photo during a mid-day stroll through our site!