Thursday, September 29, 2011

Morocco in the News, Sept 29th

Health PCV Nehemiah Waterland and the kids’ baseball team on CNN.
From Morocco: Q & A with a Moroccan teen.
Friday, September 23, 2011,
Meet Rababe Saadoui. She is a 16-year-old high school student in a small town in Morocco. She is in her final year in high school, graduating next June.

Alexandra Cash: What is your typical school day like?
Rababe Saadoui: It's normal. We go, we study.
A.C.: What is normal?
R.S.: It's nothing special. We go and study boring school subjects. School in Morocco is not a place we feel comfortable. In my town that is. We go there because we have to.

A.C.: What do you like to do outside of school?
R.S.: Play sports, meet with my friends, watch movies, and sleep. There are no places to go and have fun here. I spend my time watching my movies mostly.

A.C: What is your relationship with your parents like?
R.S.: Amazing! I can say whatever I want to them. They never say no. They understand what I want. They do their best to keep me safe and comfortable.

A.C.: What are some of the stresses that Moroccan teens face?
R.S.:They need to hid their romantic relationships from their parents. Money, they can't have a lot. Extra tutoring hours and teachers. You have no relationship with them [teachers].

A.C.: What kinds of things can teens do in your town?
R.S.: Go to the Internet cafe. Boys can go to the place to play pool. This is their favorite place. They hide in some places to take drugs. They can go to the river. Most of these things are only for boys. Girls can't go to these places.

A.C.: What are some of the problems Morocco faces right now?
R.S.: Violence. People don't respect women. Drugs, corruption. You can't get a job unless you know someone.

A.C.: What is one thing you would like to see happen to make Morocco change for the better?
R.S.: I want all the universities to be free so everyone can have a chance to go there and study.

A.C.: What is one of your biggest dreams?
R.S.: To see all the world. To buy something from each country.

A.C.: What is one thing about America you are curious about?
R.S.: I am curious about American high schools. I only see them in movies and I am curious to see how they are. And the parties. There are so many parties like prom. We don't have these here.

A.C.: One final question. What is one thing you want American to know about Morocco?
R.S.: It is a great country, we love our king. Everyone should come visit this country.

Born and raised in Jackson, Michigan Alexandra Cash is a graduate of Jackson High School, Jackson Community College, and Michigan State University. At MSU she earned a degree in journalism with a focus in international relations. Alexandra is currently serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in a small town near Casablanca in Morocco, North Africa. She will be working in youth development until November 2011.
Morocco Wins Credit for Economy-Boosting Reforms: Arab Credit.
By Ahmed A. Namatalla and Mahmoud Kassem - Sep 22, 2011
Bank lending to Morocco rose at the fastest pace in the Arab world as the kingdom steers clear of political turmoil that toppled regimes in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt.
International loans to the country climbed $1.3 billion, or 14 percent, in the first quarter, compared with the 0.3 percent increase in total credit to Africa and the Middle East, the Bank for International Settlements in BaselSwitzerland, said in a report published Sept. 18. Advances to Libya dropped 37 percent and those to Egypt fell 14 percent. The yield on Morocco’s 4.5 percent eurobond due October 2020 declined 11 basis points to 5.99 percent today from the peak in February.
Moroccans approved constitutional changes in July proposed by King Mohammed VI to transfer more power to the parliament, forestalling uprisings similar to those that oustedLibya’s Muammar Qaddafi and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. The International Monetary Fundpredicts political reforms will help the nation’s economy grow 4.6 percent this year, up from 3.7 percent in 2010.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On the Difference between Moroccan and American Locks

Front doors in Morocco and America are very different. In America they tend to be made of wood. In Morocco they are generally metal. The locks are also different. In America it is impossible to lock a person inside a house. In Morocco it is expected.

The locks on doors in America tend have a knob which can be locked by hand from the inside, and by key from the outside. They also have a deadbolt, which is locked in the same manner. Moroccan locks also have a deadbolt of the same description. However, in place of a knob they have a different kind of lock with a spring-powered latch that automatically locks the door when closes. It also has its own bolt that can be moved from either side with a key. What this means is someone can leave the house taking the key with them and effectively lock inside whoever is left behind.

The logic behind this is that one might want to lock people inside a house for their own protection.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

On The Coming of Summer Part 2

There are many significant moments on the journey from winter to summer. After the blossoms of wild flowers have faded and the wheat harvest is taken in a brown dusty landscape settles in for the foreseeable future. The temperature rises and a couple changes take place around the house.

1)    The water that comes out of your kitchen tap during the day is so hot that you can do dishes without having to use heated water from your shower.
2)    You sleep with the fan on at night.
3)    You turn the water heater from winter mode to summer mode.
4)    You pour water on your bed before going to sleep
5)    You wake up in the middle of the night to pour more water on your bed

This summer I experienced all of these moments. Living here I have learned to tolerate summer’s wrath without modern convinces like Air Conditioning. I even sold my small inflatable pool because I didn’t need it to get through. As the days grow shorter and the earth’s axis pulls away from the sun, I recognize that I’ve adapted. Still, I hope there aren’t any more 40˚C weeks coming my way, they’re lame.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Morocco In The News - September 18th

 'Morocco Caucus' Established Inside U.S. Congress.
Washington — A Group of U.S. lawmakers announced the establishment of the "Congressional Morocco Caucus" for the 112th congress, with the aim of deepening the economic and strategic relations between Rabat and Washington
"We are pleased to announce the establishment of the Congressional Morocco Caucus for the 112th Congress. The Morocco Caucus will be a bipartisan group of Members committed to deepening the economic and strategic relationship between the United States and Morocco," said the initiators of the Caucus in a letter to their fellow congressmen.
They recalled that Morocco and the U.S. enjoy long-standing friendship relations, describing that the Kingdom as a "vital" ally in North Africa and "a strategic friend that shares our values and aspirations."
Most recently, said the letter signed by congressmen Mario-Diaz-Balart, Bennie Thompson, Loretta Sanchez et Michael G. Grimm, Morocco held a constitutional referendum and implemented "far-reaching democratic reforms."
They added that the Kingdom "has long been a strong partner on security issues, a strong trading partner for U.S. business, and is a regional leader on democratic reforms."
With the recent events taking place in the region, Morocco-U.S. relations have gained a strategic importance, underlined the signatories of the letter, stressing the need to "work together to ensure the success of their democratic aspirations."

U.S. Underlines Country's Efforts to Counter Extremism, Encourage Religious Tolerance – Report
Washington — U.S. Department of State highlighted Tuesday Morocco's efforts aiming to "counter extremist ideology", underlining that the Kingdom "continued to encourage tolerance, respect, and dialogue among religious groups."
Explaining the approach implemented by Morocco, the Department of State noted, in its 2010 International Religious Freedom Report, the continuation of the training of female Muslim spiritual guides (Mourchidaat), a programme launched in 2006, which aims to "promote tolerance and to increase women's spiritual participation."
The report recalled, in this respect, that since the inception of the programme over 200 women have been trained and are now providing counsel to women, girls and children on variety of subjects, including their legal rights and family planning.
The efforts made by Morocco to promote moderate Islam are seen through the religious freedom that Moroccan Jews are enjoying "in safety throughout the country" as well as Christian communities abroad, said the report.
In order to encourage interfaith dialogue, the document also noted that Jewish culture and its artistic, literary, and scientific heritage is taught in some Moroccan universities, citing as an example the teaching of Hebrew and comparative religion in the Department of Islamic Studies at the University of Rabat.
Studies of Christianity and Judaism are part of a course of academic theological studies, added the Department of State in the same context.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

On Madrid

Despite recent bad press about the state of Spain’s finances and the unruliness of protestors in Puerta del Sol, Madrid exceeded my wildest dreams. It is possible that my expectations were low and so easily met. The only thing I knew about Madrid before going was that, like drug-violence ridden northern Mexico, they spoke Spanish and, despite having Christiano Ronaldo, one of the world’s best and most annoying athletes, they still can’t win their league.

What I should have remembered is that Spain was one of the first world superpowers and that during the age of exploration the Spanish took a vast amount of gold out of the new world. And all that treasure got spent in Madrid.

After the dusty and monotonous hamlet that I work in, Madrid is a sexy paramour.  Forget the museums the guidebooks talk about. The whole city is a museum. It is glorious, each building is an architectural Mona Lisa for which no expense was spared. The parks are laid out endlessly for your enjoyment. And the food isn’t half bad either.

But what I most enjoyed was the Metro.

I once tried to explain the word ‘subway’ to some students. They had heard it in a song by James Blunt and thought it had voyeuristic implications. “It is like a train that runs underground in cities. New York, Washington DC, London, Paris all have subways.” I explained. I doubt they fully understood. The subway in Madrid or, Metro as it is called blows them all away.

It was really nice to be in a new country where I didn’t speak the language and yet, experience a system of transportation that was clean, that worked, that I understood, that was reliable, thay was new, and that wasn’t crowed.

Just thinking about that Metro I can’t wait to go back.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Morocco In the News: Sunday, September 11

GV alum volunteers in first Special Olympics-Peace Corps partnership

Updated: August 28, 2011

The first partnership between the Peace Corps and the Special Olympics was an important moment for both nonprofits, but for Peace Corps volunteer and Grand Valley State University alumna Sarah Hollemans, it was a deeply personal moment as well.
Hollemans, who has been working in Morocco as a Youth Development volunteer since September 2009, said the Morocco Special Olympics hit a special note with her because she has several family members with disabilities. Holleman’s brother has cerebral palsy and she has an aunt with Down syndrome.