Friendships were the absolute last thing on my mind when preparing for Peace Corps. I was so worried about what sweater to bring, what change would come and making sure I ate all of my favorite foods to even consider other Peace Corps volunteers.
Let me tell you, it is no small or easy task to be shoved in a new city and THEN* a new country with 100 other Americans. One hundred other strangers. Keeping people’s names, stories, and faces straight is sometimes just as overwhelming as the new country and language itself. This for someone who has considered themselves somewhat of an extrovert. I adore meeting new people and learning about them, building some kind of new connection or bond… usually these kind of interactions are exhilarating. However, in the first ten days in the capital city Rabat did not* give me that feeling. It was a feeling similar to the first day of middle school, hoping that you have the right* clothes, you make the right* friends and most importantly you say the right* things. I wanted to hide in my hotel room and savor as many hot showers as I could (Lord only knows what the showering situation was available in my training site). That feeling of feeling overwhelmed and nervous when together as a large group of 110, then 100, then 90… now I think we hover somewhere in the 80s, did not fade until we met at our In-Service Training (which takes place at 6 months of service). Only then did I feel comfortable because I had formed beautiful and amazing new friendships. Which, quite unexpectedly, has been a very big highlight* of my service. Other PCVs are a new family, who will provide some* headaches but ultimately are a system of endless support.
This fellow volunteer was in my training group. We went through the thick and thin of it all at the beginning…. the crying, frustration, anger, confusion,language breakthroughs and moments of happiness. We, and others in our CBT (Community Based Training), came out with with an irreplaceable bond. My CBT group with our fabulous language teacher. Seems like FOREVER ago!
Of course, we were placed pretty far apart when we received our final sites. She is in a tiny* one-street town right outside of Agadir while we are a few hours north of Rabat. Her site gets blistering hot during the summer. However, she is unable to change her wardrobe to accommodate this heat because of the conservative nature of her town.
Purse: purchase in Marrakesh
Button-up tunic: Target
It is important to keep in mind that she is not able to wear this in her site with just leggings, as it would be inappropriate. She saves it for the fabulous times we are able to spend time together and create even more wonderful memories together.
I am so thankful to have her in my life even though we live far apart. She has taught me that I should have been looking forward to the deep, wonderful connections that I would form with some volunteers.