Thursday, September 22, 2011

Quick update

Just wanted to get an update out to everyone! It's been a busy but incredibly fun time in our training site in Fes. We had one day off and was able to do some exploring around the city. This is Justin and me in front of one of the King's palaces in the center of Fes, along with some gorgeous tilework on the sides of the palace.

Justin and I are leaving our training site in Fes this afternoon and heading into what the Peace Corps calls "Community-Based Training." We'll be spending the next 2 months or so living in a small community with a host family, and engaging in intense training to prepare us in the language, culture, and youth and community development work to give us a strong foundation for the next 2 years to come :) If all goes well, we'll be sworn in as official Peace Corps volunteers in late November. 

I'm not sure what my internet access will be at our new site, so I wanted to make sure I gave everyone the updates now! We'll be living in Moulay Yacoub, about 20 minutes outside of Fes. It's a moderately-sized town (about 13,000 people) and it's right on the side of a mountain. Our training house is near the bottom of the mountain, and all the facilities that we'll need (post office, grocery store, bank, etc) are at the top of the mountain - which means I'll finally get the chance to burn off all the good Moroccan food we've been eating!! Justin and I will be living with a host family with 6 siblings - 3 boys and 3 girls, ranging in age from 8 to 19. I'm hoping the younger ones will help us practice our language skills, though they will likely be FAR beyond us even at a young age!

We're both really excited but very nervous/anxious to be living in a new community and particularly with a family.. but looking forward to more adventures and more to learn! I hope to be able to post more soon, along with some photos of our new community. I looked online and here's all I could find - not sure if it's accurate but it looks pretty!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hello from Morocco!

It has only been about 4 days and it feels more like 4 months! 

We have gone through so much this week - emotionally, physically, geographically, and mentally. We have met and successfully learned the names of 40 of our new government-issued friends (our other Peace Corps trainees)... we have already learned how to count to 100 in Moroccan Arabic, along with a slew of phrases around greeting people, ordering/paying in a cafe or store, and very important questions such as "Where is the toilet?" (more on the Turkish toilet in later post)... we have learned about our training schedule over the coming months... we have received medical kits, vaccinations, government-issued passports, insurance cards... we have filled out lots and lots and lots of paperwork... we have been educated on Morocco past and present... and we have begun to learn about what our next 2 years will be like, both professionally and personally... oh yes, and a LOT of really good meals. All that in less than 64 hours. So far, a lot to take in, but Justin and I are just trying to soak it in bit by bit (or as they say in Moroccan Arabic, "swiya b swiya" - little by little).

In the whirlwind of activity, I have not been able to take too many photos, but we were able to leave our compound in Fes for a short time this afternoon and I took some photos along the way. More to come soon as we have more time to explore and learn. I miss everyone and hope that all is well in the U.S. of A!

Sunset over Fes traffic
A beautiful mosque near our training site
View of Fes and the mountains from our bedroom
Seasonal outdoor market near our training site

Monday, September 12, 2011

Our bags are packed...

Our belongings for the next 2 years
And we're off! We leave this morning for Philadelphia. I am so nervous, yet so very excited about our adventures to come. I will try very hard to blog at least once weekly (more if possible) with updates from abroad. 

We'll be in Philadelphia until Tuesday morning, and then we take a bus to New York and fly JFK to Casablanca, arriving Wednesday morning Morocco time. From there, we take a bus to Fes and we'll be in and around Fes until late November for training. I would LOVE, LOVE to hear from everyone as much as possible, even if just a quick email or a postcard to say hi! Below are the many ways that you can get in touch with me :)

By mail:
Below is our address for the first 2 months; after that time we'll be in our permanent site and I'll be sending a new address through. Letters welcomed!! No packages unfortunately until we move to our permanent site. 
Lauren Bernstein
s/c Corps de la Paix
2, Rue Abou Marouane Essaadi, Agdal,
Rabat 10100, MOROCCO

By Skype: 
My username is laurenjamie816. Add me to your contacts and look for me online!

By Email:
Please email me lots of updates!! You can also subscribe via email to receive the blog (on the top righthand corner of the page).

By Phone:
The Peace Corps will be providing us with cell phones once we get to Morocco. I have frozen my current phone number, so don't delete me, I'll be back with the old number when we return.

Thanks so much to everyone for their support and love over our journey getting here! I look forward to sharing our new adventures to come soon :)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

We're baaaaack!!! (for 4 days)

23 days on the road, 24 states, and over 5,600 miles covered!

I am truly overwhelmed by the ground that we covered, the friends and family that we saw, the love that we were shown, and the ridiculous amount of food that we ate!

It's impossible to put all of our experiences into words, so I thought that photos might help bring it to life. We saw many, many more people that we didn't get photos with and I've left off some of the many adventures that Justin and I had by ourselves along the way... but you get the idea. 

We are back in New York until Monday morning, when we leave bright and early to head to Philadelphia for a 1-day training, and then on Tuesday we fly out to Casablanca. It's so hard to believe that it's almost time for us to leave... but we are so happy that we were able to spend some time catching up with the wonderful people in our lives!

In my next post, I'll be including our contact information for the first few months while we are in training in Morocco. I'm planning to rekindle the lost art of letter writing, so I welcome lots and lots of greetings from all of you :)