l'aventure africaine

our travel journal

Saturday, April 29, 2006

We know!!

Okay, so first things first. We know. That's right. :) We can't say specifically because it's prohibited for safety and security's sake, but, on this map, locate Tata and that's our closest city! Yep, south...which means HOT! It's very much desert there and, based on the little bit of info we got, it sounds like there is some active community organizations that we'll be able to work with. That's really the most important thing and so we are excited to take off tomorrow and get a chance to go check it out in person! We'll leave tomorrow (Sunday) morning and travel Sunday and Monday, spend time meeting the officials around town and hanging out with our new host family for a few days and travel back the following Saturday and Sunday. We're excited to know, and to go, and we'll have TONS more to tell you about it when we get back!

On to the promised silly pictures. :)

There is an eye make-up that Moroccans use that stains, for a few days, some kick-butt eyelinery type stuff, called kohl, around your eyes. My host sister offered to apply some last weekend and here's how it went...

Here is the finished product!

Later that day, I got dressed up in some more Moroccan clothing. The dress is one that is used for weddings or holidays (as I understand it...). The headscarf is a Berber tradition. Bad news...slow picture loading and I have to be back in about 7 minutes. I don't know if I'll make it back before we take off tomorrow bright and early...but I'll post those pictures as soon as we get back along with lots more info about our site!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Baby Norah

So we just got back and I made a bee line for the internet cafe...here's what I found:

Norah Kathryn Rustad was born Tuesday morning -- hooray!

Here's Mama and Olivia with her new baby sister. :)

Here's Papa too of course!

Tons of Congratulations to you guys and Mike and I send OODLES and OODLES of love. I can't even say how much I wish I could be there and meet her!

(All pictures here were stolen from Chelsea's blog.)

Coming soon...more pics of Jana Moroccan style...good times. :) Very funny. You don't want to miss this...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Time is moving quickly...

First of all, I want to say we love you guys very much. Thank you for your comments and e-mails and letters (and Prince Valiant comics...). :) We are very lucky to have you and you totally make our day and make us laugh tons.

We're back again… we’re in our seminar site just for about 4 days and then we’re heading back to our community based training sites. Everything is happening so fast! We go back in 4 days and are there for about 6 days and then…the big moment…we’ll find out our site placement -- where we’ll be living for the next two years!!! We’ll find out the vital statistics of our community, the next day we’ll have “mid-term” language interviews, and the following day we’ll take a week and travel to our new sites and check out the situation. It is so unbelievably close and I think we’re really excited and a little nervous. More traveling and finding out exactly what we’re going to be up to during our service… :)

Our CBT was a really good experience this time-- not that it wasn’t last time! Our language is just getting better. Not good, mind you. :) Just better. We can conjugate verbs now in the present tense, so we don’t have to say, “Now, he went to the store,” (because the infinitive of verbs in Darija is he in the past tense…) instead of, “Now, we need to go to the store.” We all feel like we are learning so slowly, but when you look at where we were a week ago, or two weeks ago, it’s kind of amazing! There is something new and big to learn each day, which is sometimes overwhelming, but you get to go home and use right away which is FUN and the pace keeps us on our toes and motivated.

Here’s some pics, and we’ll keep you posted!

Here's Michael and our host brother Azdine (my spelling is a little interpretive, I only know how to write it in Arabic script...)

Here's a picture of our whole host family, except for our host grandma.

Here's an action shot of us hanging out on the patio, shelling peas, or whatever it is you call taking peas out of pea pods!

One last thing, please keep your thoughts and prayers with the Rustads because Baby Ru is coming any minute now! (I'm really excited!) Although...I'm a little behind the loop, understandably, so really...Baby Ru could be here...but keep them in your thoughts anyways please?

Oh, and remember Jevan, nobody puts Baby in a corner. :)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

lots o' pics

This is our CBT village on the hill.

Michael took this picture on a walk near our CBT village...not bad. :)

We had a flat tire during our taxi trip back to our seminar site. We were back on the road quickly, but had enough time to take a couple of pictures!

Today is an Islamic holiday that celebrates the birth of the Prophet, so we had a special breakfast which involved a lot of cookies and breads, and got dressed up Moroccan style... :)

Here's our CBT group (the nice way). The woman in the pink is our LCF (Language and Cultural Facilitator) Amina. :)

Here's our CBT group (the old school rap way).

We're off to CBT again tomorrow! We'll try and post soon when we get back!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

A quick note on modesty...

Hey, there have been a couple of questions and I have learned a lot since coming on what modesty is in this culture so I thought I'd share a little tiny bit... I still am learning the boundaries a little, so don't quote me on this. :) What I have learned though is that modesty in the neckline is important, and many women who wear headcoverings (though not all here) cover their necks something like this...

(The picture is taken from wikipedia's article on "Hijab" if you'd like more info.)

However, just as important as appropriate neckline in the villages we visit or go to for CBTs is that if we are not wearing a skirt, our butts are covered. If you wear a skirt, your shirt does not need to be as long, but if you've got pants on shirts around mid-thigh are ideal.

The women in our group will not generally be expected to wear traditional local clothing for women, but to integrate into our communities we will definately need to be respectful of them. There is certain leeway allowed to foreigners, but if you push that too far, people may make certain assumptions about you that could make it difficult to have sufficient credibility to do your work in your community. The other concern you may run into if you are not respectful of the norms is that people look at you as being more liberal...and you are potentially open to more harassment from men. Again, it just depends on the area. Harassment is, though, generally more of a big city thing (where there are more tourists) than a small town thing.

The volunteer I visited on my field trip, just for examples sake, initially wore the traditional dress of the women in the area (like what I had on in the picture). But, it was a bit restrictive, and the shoes that go with it made walking around to talk to the community a bit harder. She downgraded to a headscarf. Over time she began to wear a sunhat (to be respectful of the headcovering norm in her area) and she wears long sleeve shirts and pants and integrates fine. It all depends, though, on your community as far as how conservative they are and what they'll expect from you!

I didn't bring any shirts that are long enough to wear with pants, but luckily did bring plenty of skirts. In the "big town" where we are staying for our seminar site, we can do long sleeve shirts and "shorter" shirts and generally be okay. I need to ask though, if I work a long scarf tied around my waist with pants, if that would make them more acceptable, or if I should invest in some longer shirts.... still so much to learn!

Friday, April 07, 2006

We made it!

We survived our first “Community Based Training.” More than survived, we really enjoyed it. :)

Here’s how it works…we split up into groups of 5 or 6, and each group has a Moroccan staff person called a Language and Culture Facilitator (LCF). We spend our days doing lots and lots of language learning and practice, as well as training on the work we’ll be doing …right now mostly the vocabulary we’ll need and how to familiarize ourselves with the resources in our community. We also have some cultural discussions about what we’re experiencing and things like non-verbal communication…what gestures we’re seeing mean (and which ones not to accidentally make!) In the evenings we stay with host families and experience daily life in Morocco and have lots of opportunities to practice our language. We learned more about laundry Moroccan style and a lot about food traditions and family. Our family was VERY nice. They had hosted a volunteer two years ago and so they knew how to utilize non-verbal communication to be very hospitable. There are 2 parents, a daughter around our age, and a 10 year old son, as well as a grandma and a young woman who is staying with the family because her family lives far from the secondary school she attends.
Some things we are learning about Moroccan culture: Moroccans drink oodles of tea. Mostly mint tea. We did have some amazing orange blossom tea, made from orange trees growing in the area. You just pick the blossoms and wash them and add them to the tea…wow. :) (We learned tea-making Moroccan style in our training because it is a vital skill in these parts!) Couscous is usually made on Fridays. Moroccans eat it with their hands, as they do much of their food. Most food is dipped from a communal dish with bread. Couscous, though, is made into little balls and then popped into your mouth. I attempted this for the first time this past Sunday and it’s a little messy for a novice like me, but fun. Evening meals are generally later than most of us are used to. Depending on the family they are between about 8:30 and 10ish. Religion is essential to daily life in Morocco. From greetings to compliments to hearing the prayer calls from the Mosque 5 times a day to how it influences ideas of appropriate dress, it is integral. That was a wee bit random, but we’re learning so much each day, it’s hard to even realize all of what we’re absorbing…definitely let us know if you have questions about something!
The week passed quickly. We had “school” from 8 to 5:30 or 6 and then spent the nights studying and playing soccer or watching TV with our families. We had Sunday off from school and spent the day with the family. The larger towns in the area have a market day each week, called the souq, where all the meat and vegetable and clothes and teapot and spice and other vendors bring their goods and people come from a large area to stock up for the week. Sunday was our town’s so we went in the morning with the father and kids from our family, because going to the souq falls usually within the man’s duties. Our town is on a mountainside which leads down to a river, so we spent the evening walking down to the river and around the area and it was BEAUTIFUL!
Now we’re “home” in our seminar site, doing some more training in our big group. We will go back for our next CBT phase next Wednesday. I am going to sign off and go make some flashcards now, but I'll try and post again soon!