Saturday, October 30, 2010

Morocco In the News: Oct 26 - 31

Peace Corps lessons resonate with Brevard volunteers
In the east-central town of Goulmima, in the predominantly Muslim country of Morocco, Laura Van Deusen taught aerobics to women and girls.
In the small village in a culture where men dominated, the class gave women and girls a chance to leave their head scarves behind and move in ways they never had before.
Van Deusen's primary job was teaching English as a volunteer for the U.S. Peace Corps, a service organization whose idea formed 50 years ago this month when then-Sen. John F. Kennedy gave a rousing campaign speech calling on Americans to serve abroad to promote peace.
As the Peace Corps marks a half-century, celebration is in
order. Returned volunteers living in Brevard find the experience helping people abroad led them to helping people at home in the United States .
"I learned that I loved teaching," said Van Deusen, 41, who served about a decade ago and is now a math resource teacher at Cambridge Magnet Elementary in Cocoa. "I would recommend it, but you've got to make of it what you want it to be."
Peace Corps continues to attract people who seek adventure, a chance to gain job and language skills, and total cultural immersion. Its mission then, as now, is to provide countries with technical support and skills training. Agency critics say it's in need of reform to better achieve development goals.

Friday, October 29, 2010

On Affluence

Living in Morocco it is easy to forget about affluence. Reading The Economist, listening to Planet Money’s podcast and checking the BBC’s News webpage, one could get the idea that since the global recession began, things have been bad, economically speaking, in America. And yet, to someone who has lived in the countryside of Morocco for a year, things could not be farther from the truth.

While in Morocco you forget about cars and everyone having their own. You forget about smart phones and ipads and people being able to afford airplane tickets. Needless to say, when compared to the trees and donkeys that Moroccans own, things in America are booming, even if this week’s Planet Money Indicator is 1.2% annualized GDP growth.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Morocco In the News: Oct 19 - 25

Morocco seeks to promote tourism via Youtube
Paris - After the websites "", "" and, meant to promote the Marrakech destination, Morocco created a channel on Youtube.
     The is a new tool to widely broadcast a video content on the Kingdom with its multiple destinations, and highlight assets such as golf and well being, Morocco’s national tourism office said.
    In addition to films on the destination, it is now possible to follow the second season of short programmes launched last September on the French TV channel TF1.
    This second season, which continues until 13 December on TF1, shows the success of the first season. A format of one minute and 10 seconds, aired on Saturdays and Sundays at 19:50, enables viewers to follow very different persons who, by their experience, expertise and backgrounds, makes it possible to  discover a Morocco off the beaten track.
Moroccan writer inspires women. By Naoufel Cherkaoui 2010-10-12
In a new book, Betty Batoul shares her bitter life experiences and calls on women to maintain hope and resilience.

Friday, October 22, 2010

On What is Happening

Once again my plane broke through the clouds and morning broke over the horizon. After hours of the Atlantic I looked down and there was the coast, long smooth waves, their white foam slowly approaching the flat of Africa. As I road the train from the airport there was Morocco, the nonchalant sun over smiling fields and lazy buildings. It was good to be back.

Summer has come and begins to fade. With Ramadan the clocks have fallen back to ‘old time’. Fewer days cross the 100˚F mark. Dry winds and sandstorms blow followed by coal colored thunderheads and house shaking downpours.

The Beaches of Morocco fill as families trickle toward the coolness of the coast and then empty as they return for the start of school. The second week of October sees the temperature drop 20 ˚F. The first storm of the season comes and it rains for two days straight.

In recognition of the autumnal weather I make pumpkin soup. I spend my time talking with community stakeholders, trying to get my elementary school student health project off the ground. I meet with the teachers to discuss the strike that is wrapping up its second week and preventing high school classes from getting underway.

It is business as usual. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Morocco In the News: Oct 11 - 18

Tinghir, Ouarzazate, Morocco: Election results in the Peace Corps.
iReport —
I was serving as a health volunteer in the Peace Corps on the day of the election. I headed into town where a nearby volunteer had a television and was hosting an election party.
Though we couldn't stay up to see the results, at about 5 am, all our cell phones started ringing. "He won!" they said. "Turn on the TV!"
We crowded back into the room, sleepyeyed, and sat fixated on history in the making.

Friday, October 15, 2010

On Vacation

Being halfway through my service here in Morocco I finally got the chance to take some vacation time to go back to California for my brother’s wedding. And what a wedding it was. I very much enjoyed the celebration. I also enjoyed the fact that while I hadn’t swung a golf club for over a year, my golf swing has lost none of its accuracy. While I was back I had a fun time speaking before a gathering of interested Peace Corps applicants. I did NOT care for the flight, which was delayed in both directions, indicating the level of professionalism and punctuality that is typical of Delta Airlines.

And now the vacation is over. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Morocco In the News - Back to School Edition

Life expectancy at birth in Morocco jumps to 73.1 years in 2010.
Rabat - Life expectancy at birth in Morocco moved from 62 years in the 1960s to 73.1 years now, the High Planning Commission (HCP) said.
    The number of 60-year-olds and over moved from 833,000 to 2.4 million over the reporting period, an annual rise of 2.3%, the HCP said in a statement on the occasion of the International Day of Older Persons, celebrated on 1 October.
   The Day is celebrated this year under the theme "Older persons and the achievement of the MDGs".
   It added that it forecasts the number of older persons to grow by 3.5% yearly between now and 2030, compared to 0.9% for overall population, to reach 5.8 million by 2030.
    This, it continued, accounts for 15.4% of the population as against 8.1% now.
    The statement noted that the average number of children per woman declined from 7.2 to 2.4 between the start of the 1960s and 2010, which resulted in population ageing.

Monday, October 4, 2010

On The Light

For being a stack of cinderblocks there is something artful about my home. It comes from the way the light fall in it. The setting sun throws yellow in the western windows leaving sad squares that shrink as the day dies. The skylight traces a circle around the court daily. One could mark time by it’s rays, like the pantheon in Rome. The north windows are always a white light, never lit by moon nor sun. Only one room escapes the daily play of Moroccan light, the raining rocks and knives of its fierce sunshine. The inner bedroom has no windows to the outside world, no portals of luminescence.

It’s a great place to take a nap.