So I just finished a week of training in Marrakech, which was incredibly interesting. Every stage (training group) meets up at the six month point (which means, omg, I have been a volunteer for six months now!) to talk about their sites, their projects current and future, their problems, and to connect with other volunteers for work and for sanity. This week was particularly action packed, and here are some highlights:
1. On Monday, had very interesting class sessions, and Monday night went out to get Afro-Caribbean food with a big group of friends at a place called Mama Africa. Highly recommended, best seafood I've had in awhile.
2. On Tuesday, we got to meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was in town for a conference promoting democracy in the Middle East. I felt bad for her, because she was running late and I knew she must have been a bit stressed being shuttled from place to place (it took her 45 minutes to walk down the hallway), but she was incredibly gracious and of good cheer, and greeted us and thanked us for our work. I got to shake her hand, which was very soft. She also had bling like you wouldn't believe on her left hand, ladies.
3. On Wednesday, had a very interesting workshop on Project Design Management which basically gave us all the tools on how to implement a project from planning all the way through. I have a lot of new ideas for things to do in my site, including a cross-sector summer camp for next June and a training for Traditional Birth Attendants to follow up on a similar project done by the volunteer I replaced. I'm also working on some things for World AIDS Week next month, and for Earth Day in April. I'm really, really excited about work now.
4. Wednesday afternoon, we broke into small groups and went to different Associations in Marrakech to learn about the work they do and to give us an idea of how NGOs and Associations work. My group went to Association Al Karam, which is an organization that takes care of children threatened by violence, poverty, and exploitation. They take care of hundreds of children in Marrakech by providing them with education, tutoring, games, medical care, and love, and at the center we visited there were about ten boys from 4-18 who lived their full time. We got to spend some time with the children and it was really great to see how engaged they were, and how much the staff loved them. The woman who was in charge told me of a similar organization near me, so hopefully I will be able to work with them a little.
5. Thursday evening, I went out to a really amazing Thai food/sushi place that was horribly expensive but soooooo worth it. That evening I was out with other PCVs, a German volunteer who worked at Al Karam, and his two Japanese friends. The lingua franca between me, the German, and the Japanese guy was French. Go figure.
Now I'm back home, and getting ready to implement all these projects I have floating around in my head. Next weekend I'm hosting a party for all the new volunteers in my province, which should be exciting. We're getting SEVEN, which is amazing.