It is said that Peace Corps (PC) is the hardest job you will ever love. Our illustrious leader, Country Director Steve Driehaus, recently said that Peace Corps work is what we do every day. Both of these statements are very true. I’ve also heard that Peace Corps is the longest vacation you’ll ever hate. I’m not too sure about that one, but then again I’ve only been an official PC volunteer for three months.
In Morocco, Youth Development (YD) is what we do and that encompasses several aspects. YD is everything from teaching English, life skills, employability skills, healthy lifestyles and anything else that fits with your personal skill level and the needs of your community. The largest portion of what we do is build relationships and build trust which requires a lot of simply being out and about and engaging in conversation.
So, Peace Corps is the work we do every day. And it’s exhausting. As a PCV, you are ‘on’ every moment of the day as you greet people, talk with counterparts, teach a class and enjoy tea with a neighbor. Because we represent America, we must give a good impression dima (always). If I’m not smiling, people are concerned that I’m not ok – that something is wrong and they need to fix it. At the end of each day I’m physically exhaust from trying to speak the language and hoping that people understand me (not to mention me understanding them).
In my small village, I am the only foreigner here. (My site mate recently closed her service and is now back in the US). Most of us are in similar situations. We live in a bubble. Everyone knows what we do and where we go all the time. It can be difficult to reconcile the individualism of the US and the collectivism of Morocco. And is part of what makes this work ‘the hardest job you’ll ever love’. Or is that the longest vacation I’ll ever hate? The next 20 months will tell.