Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out with the old, in with the new...

Breaking news, just in time for the new year – Yesterday, at 3:46 PM, my cast came OFF!

before photo, nervously anticipating the doctor
after, furiously scrubbing 6 weeks of dried skin off my foot!

And for your entertainment, below is a video that Justin shot of my hilarious Moroccan doctor goofing off just prior to taking off the cast.

I'm already able to walk, though with a bit of difficulty as my foot is quite stiff and sore. I'll be starting physical therapy next week but I'm confident that I'll be able to gain back the strength quickly.

All of this is perfect timing for me, because I truly view the new year as a chance to take stock of the past, shed the things holding us back, and embrace the opportunities that lie ahead in the coming year. I know that there's really no difference between December 31 and January 1, but for me the new year is a symbolic street sign along the road of life that reminds me to mentally reflect and plan.

So with that, here are some of my initial goals and thoughts for the coming year. I imagine that I will  add to/develop these as I spend more time in Morocco and evolve the type of work I do here.

1. Take better care of myself
This has been a year of ridiculousness. In February I broke a bone in my right hand while walking our foster dog, and then in November I fractured a bone in my leg. Accidents happen, and the February break was an accident, but I attribute the November fracture to being careless and making bad decisions. With that, I have decided that I will no longer wear flip flops (anyone who has seen me wearing flip flops in New York in December knows that this is a bold decision!). I fractured the bone in my leg by slipping on stairs in flip flops and I am convinced that wearing a piece of slippery rubber with no traction is more trouble waiting to happen. Beyond my flip-flop decision, I want to make sure that I maintain a healthy lifestyle in Morocco – exercising regularly, making smart eating decisions, etc. There are some fantastic things about our lifestyle here – lots of walking, great weather year-round for exercising outside, and not a frozen meal to be found for miles! 

2. Improve my language skills
I've been blown away by how quickly I have been able to pick up the language. In just a little over 4 months, I have gotten myself to a strong intermediate level in which I do a pretty good job of communicating with people in the community. But still, every day there are sentences I don't quite understand, or things I want to say but just don't know how. Justin and I have a tutor that we will be working with twice a week, but beyond that I want to devote time weekly to learning new vocabulary, studying new aspects of the language, and evaluating my progress.

3. Explore and travel – mainly throughout Morocco, but elsewhere if possible
This is an obvious one. I want to make sure to spend lots of time in my community, but one of the reasons that I joined the Peace Corps was to get to know another country and its culture, beyond just one city. So I want to make sure to plan lots of trips throughout the country, and hopefully beyond.

4. Continue to develop a support network in my community
I'm really proud of the integration that Justin and I have already done in the community – we have an amazing host family who think of us as one of their own and will be so important to have over the next 2 years. Beyond that, we have developed friendships with youth in their 20's who go to our Youth Center and I expect that these will develop even further with time. I also want to be sure that Justin and I develop our own friends in the community – and the natural gender divisions that occur in Moroccan culture should make this fairly easy to achieve.

5. Consistently evaluate my work and what more I can do
We've only been in the community for a short time, but as we start to really settle here, it will be important for me to not just get into a routine of teaching classes, but to constantly be talking to youth and other members of the community about issues that are meaningful to them, things they want to learn, and activities that they want to do, and making sure that I am always looking for ways to address all of these. 

6. Maintain communication with everyone back home!
Whether that means letters, emails, phone calls, Skype conversations, Facebook, smoke signals, whatever... just making sure that I am still a part of everyone's lives back home. And keeping up the blog of course – I plan to continue posting new entries at least once a week. And I want to try to potentially develop a communication network between my classes in Morocco and classes in a U.S. school. More to come on that soon.

That about covers it. I'll be sure to write updates on how I'm doing with the above goals. Tonight, our host family is throwing a big party for 30 of their closest friends and family, to celebrate what Moroccans call Rass L'Ԑam (“rass” meaning “head” and “l'Ԑam” meaning “of the year”) and I'm looking forward to ringing in 2012 Moroccan style!

From Justin and me, wishing everyone a wonderful year filled with new plans, adventures, experiences, and relationships. I look forward to continuing to chart our journey in the coming year!


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