This is all 40 of us Peace Corps Morocco PCVs from the September 2011 stajj, 1 year + 10 months ago. We had just “sworn in” as Peace Corps volunteers and were bracing ourselves for traveling (by ourselves, with our nascent Darija) to our final sites (in which none of us knew exactly what was waiting for us). Cleaner, a bit fatter, and ready to carpe that diem.
This is all 28 of us remaining, last week, at our close of service (COS) conference. I’d say we’re still lookin’ pretty good, still have all of our limbs somewhat attached, and hey, ultimately– who cares how many intestinal parasites are featured in this pic! We made it!
The COS conference was a 3 day conference + 3 days of intensive medical testing (running a marathon, jumping through fiery hoops, pooping in cups). I, the bastard 4-month extendee, was not invited to stay for the exclusive round of medical testing. Rationale? They don’t want to know if I have TB for another 4 months. Hey, I get it, neither do I! (This is a hilarious joke. Anyone who extended their service for 6 months or less didn’t have to poop in a cup, get their blood tested, etc., as they will be doing that again shortly). However, this also meant that I didn’t get to stay in swanky Hotel Oscar with the crew for the extra 3 nights. No worries– in the face of such adversity, I just doubled-up my pleasure for the first 3 days. We ate amazing foods full of cheese, drank delicious alcohol (the American Club had Turning Leaf wine?! HA), and enjoyed the company of my beautiful fellow countrymen.
The COS conference itself was chock-full of useful information for people like me. Some of the older, wiser, more experienced-in-life PCVs were a tad bored, but I was drinking all of the information up with a straw (“What? Educational info goes at the bottom of a resume?!”). Our time was evenly split between professional practices & returned PCV resources, practical matters here (how to cancel your utilities) and at home, and emotional/ feel-good activities to prepare us for the emotional roller coaster of re-acclimation. I also managed to fit in a plug for my women artisans– I carried a bunch of their stuff to Rabat, set up a table in our conference room, and ended up helping the women to sell over 4,000 dh worth of goods! Go ladies!
COS turned out to be one of those wonderful experiences rife with strangeness– kinda the essence of all everything that happens in the Peace Corps. While some of us PCVs have gotten to see each other with consistency over the past 2 years, all of us haven’t gathered together since we split to our final sites after taking that picture in November 2011 (okay, caveat– 39 of us convened at In-Service Training in February 2012, but it wasn’t everyone!) . It was great catching up with people and singing Marvin Gaye together at underground African music clubs (yes, this actually happened). At the same time, I would be lying if it wasn’t a little sad. And I only feel free to say this because Lucia, my guide for how to be classy in life, admitted to wanting to cry on the last day in Rabat. We were brought together by (spoiler alert) the total randomness of Peace Corps placement, and now, we’re heading off to our separate corners of the world– it’s sad, but there’s a beauty to it that I think we all really enjoyed.
Thanks Peace Corps Morocco! Thanks September 2011 stajj! It’s been great…and I think we all know what the fox would say about this.