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Peace Corps in Morocco

   Mitchell graduate serves as volunteer with Peace Corps.
By KRYSTAL SLATEN krystal@tmnews.com August 12, 2008
Ann Herbert is living on the eastern coast of Africa, volunteering in Morocco with the Peace Corps.
The Peace Corps, an independent federal agency of the United States, works in more than 70 countries around the world. The volunteers work with governments, schools, nonprofit organizations, nongovernment organizations and entrepreneurs in the areas of education, health, business, informration technology, agriculture and the environment to help those people meet the need for trained workers and gain a better understanding of Americans.

Herbert graduated from Mitchell High School in 2002 and Butler University in 2006 with a major in religious studies and minors in Spanish and business. She is the daughter of Christy and Hank Wintczak of Mitchell and Rod and Bridgett Herbert of Fort Wayne.

The past 16 months have been filled with new experiences for Ann, but also for her family.
The following is an account of some of them from the perspective of her mother, Christy Wintczak of Mitchell, and includes a description of her biggest project so far. The project has been planned for and with women in the community.

“For the past 16 months, our family has had the experience of having our second-oldest daughter, Ann, living and working in Morocco as a Peace Corps volunteer. I, myself, couldn’t imagine what was driving her to live in such a far away, foreign place, but this is what she wanted so we supported that decision not knowing what was in store for her or us.

“The first thing that became apparent to us was the dress code that was required of her in order of be respected and acceptable in Morocco’s Islamic society. She called home telling us about the women covered from head to toe and was worried the clothes she had taken weren’t conservative enough. I rushed her a package of lightweight, yet very conservative, shirts that would be bearable in the scorching hot summers. The shirts were cut so that the bottom went to mid thigh, the top went up to her neck and the sleeves went at least to her forearm.

“The relationship between men and women and their roles in society is very different from what we are used to. Ann’s work for the most part has been with girls and women, partly because as a woman, men are less accessible to her, but mostly because her work as a health volunteer is best accomplished when women are reached. Women are the ones taking care of the household and are therefore in charge of their family’s overall cleanliness and diet, both of which are crucial in preventing the utmost culprit of infant deaths in Morocco — diarrhea.

“Diet has been one of the most difficult things for Ann while abroad. In the states, she was spoiled with all the products we have available to us. She enjoyed living a healthy lifestyle by eating lots of whole grains, vegetables and fruits. All of these are available in Morocco, the difference being only convenience. Because she is an avid cereal addict, I have sent many boxes of pumpkin flax seed crunch or some other fiber rich cereal which gives her a break from cooking and a refreshing reminder of home. While there, she has learned to cook because things aren’t available in the ready-made form that we are used to. She has learned how to make her own goat cheese, peanut butter, bread, hummus, soy milk, tortillas and other things we just go to the store and buy. Besides ‘American food,’ she is also learning Moroccan cuisine, which consists mostly tagines and couscous. Tagine is a mix of meat and vegetables cooked in a special clay volcano shaped cooking contraption. t meal time, the tagine is set in the middle of the table where all can reach it. The volcano shaped top is removed and everyone tears off a piece of the bread sitting in front of them and uses it to scoop up some of the well cooked food inside. I hope that she will cook it for us when she comes home. Although all of this cooking can be an inconvenience, I get the idea she thoroughly enjoys this aspect of her life there.

“In working with these women she has developed many close relationships, especially with her host family. Ann suggested I send presents for her to share with those people close to her. Simple things like shampoo, lotion, toothbrushes, chocolates, Betty Crocker cakes with a container of icing are special and exotic to those she lives with. In an attempt to share her culture and nurture the most meaningful relationships to her she hosted a Thanksgiving dinner at her house (one of the days when the electricity and water were suddenly turned off in the entire village ) gave her host sisters Christmas presents, and celebrated their birthdays — none of which they had ever done before. I’ve also sent simple work supplies such as tape, transparent laminating paper, pens and pencils because these everyday work essentials are mostly out of reach for people in her town. She has used these to hold health classes for girls and women at their local health clinic and schools as well as holding trainings on association development and grant-writing for the local women’s association.

“From my understanding, she has multiple projects going. The first is a Tashlhate video project. She has worked with another nearby volunteer to develop a series of educational health videos in the local language, Tashlhate, that will be used by Morocco’s ministry of health as well as future Peace Corps volunteers. Although she is proud of the final videos, she mostly boasts about the process in which they were made. She held class for girls and women in the community on various topics such as tooth-brushing, diarrhea, purifying water, etc. After the class, they filmed educational skits featuring Moroccan girls that pertained to that day’s topic. Then the health clinic staff added a professional, detailed run-down of each topic. Some of the pictures were drawn by another volunteer who had studied art and then they put all those components together to produce the video. They now have 12 videos.

“... Currently her time is occupied working with her local women’s association to develop their baking project. Last year, with her help, they held their first Ramadan Bake Sale. Ramadan is a time of year in the Muslim calendar when all Muslims fast from sun up to sundown for an entire month. When breaking the fast as sundown, Moroccans eat various traditional delicacies. The women’s association saw this as an income-generating opportunity and therefore made and sold the customary baked goods. Last year’s project was a success, especially considering all equipment was thrown together by women temporarily donating their various cooking supplies. The money that they made went toward paying for sewing classes, Arabic classes for the illiterate women and to help start up their community-wide trash disposal program. Because of this project, women are taking a leading role in their personal and communal development. However, the project needs improvements. They don’t have good, or enough equipment to sustain the project and therefore have worked with Ann for months on planning a bigger, better version for this year and years to come.

“Although I miss Ann, I have come to see why she has chosen to pursue this adventure. She is getting to do, learn and see things she never would have otherwise. She has developed close relationships and adapted to a different way of living. I sometimes still find her experience hard to relate to seeing that it is so different from anything I have experienced. Ann’s family supports her in any way we can: through sending letters, pictures, packages, calling and donating to the causes she is working hard for. By doing this, I have learned a little about Morocco, about Islam, about my daughter and even a little about myself and the country in which I live. I know most of all, that we have so much to be thankful for.”

Times-Mail Staff Writer Krystal Slaten welcomes comments and suggestions at 277-7264 or by e-mail at krystal@tmnews.com. http://www.tmnews.com/stories/2008/08/12/people.nw-560249.tms

   Becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer
by David Lepeska on 25 July 2008
Vincent Wickes has been recruiting Peace Corps volunteers in and around New York City for so long he's got it down to a science of sorts.  "The question is, will they make a good volunteer? Not, where should they be placed?" he said. "We look for the scarce skills, the hardest skills to find in recruitment efforts, because we know we're going to get a lot of applicants with general skills."  That's good, too, because the New York native likely has a lot of hiring ahead of him - Peace Corps supporters and prominent politicians are hoping to double the number of volunteers within the next couple years.

   The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
By David Lepeska on 25 July 2008
Mary Owen admits to being a bit Jekyll and Hyde about the Peace Corps. "It's a very good ambassador program," the former volunteer said, dubbing the Peace Corps "the best program at widening the minds of Americans." But that might not be enough. "I think we all want it to do more," she added. "But what is more?"

   On First Overseas Visit, New Peace Corps Director Welcomed by Moroccans and Volunteers
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 15, 2006 – Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter traveled to the Kingdom of Morocco from November 9-13 — his first official trip — to meet with Peace Corps Volunteers and government officials. Tschetter, the 17th director of the Peace Corps, was a Peace Corps Volunteer in India from 1966-68 with his wife, Nancy, who accompanied him in Morocco.

Shortly after his arrival in Morocco, Director Tschetter met with Peace Corps Volunteers serving in a variety of programs in the four sectors of environment, youth development, health, and small business development.  MORE

   Peace Corps Morocco-related News as captured by Peace Corps Online

   Humanitarian Effort Leads To Peace Corps in Morocco
By Maggie Wolff Peterson Special to The Winchester Star (VA)

You could call Paul Negley an adventurer. After his 1998 graduation from Handley High School, Negley decided to backpack alone across Europe and was gone from August to December. You could call Negley an achiever. When he returned from his cross-continental trek, Negley entered Lord Fairfax Community College, with the goal of making his way into the College of William and Mary. He earned a grade point average of 4.0 and did. Or, you could call Negley a humanitarian. With his college degree in government and philosophy, Negley entered the Peace Corps. Today posted in Morocco, Negley lives in a dirt-floor hut and works against the spread of AIDS in Africa.

   HOW ATLAS MEN MARRY: Chatting up single women all over the world
by Sharif Erik-Soussi in NPCA WorldView Nov-Dec 2004

The Hajj and I generally keep our conversations limited to topics of health and weather because of either his disinterest or my poor Arabic. He may, on rare occasion, ask me if I worked that day, to which any response brings an "llyawn." May God help you in your task. So it was of considerable surprise the day he asked me to teach him how to use the Internet. I couldn't imagine that the Hajj, the grandfather of my hosting family, would have much use or much interest in the Internet. He has, on more than one occasion, seen me answering e-mail and asked me why there was no sound coming out of my "special television."

I asked if he knew what the Internet was.

"No," he replied. "But my wife is dead, and I know if you know how to use the Internet, you can marry a foreign bride."

   Morocco Welcomes New Peace Corps Volunteers to Work in Health and Environment

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 3, 2004 – A group of new Peace Corps volunteers officially began their service on Thursday, May 20 in Morocco. The swearing-in of this second group marks the successful re-entry of the Peace Corps into Morocco.

United States Ambassador to Morocco Thomas T. Riley attended the ceremony and addressed the volunteers and their host families. Morocco’s Peace Corps Director Bruce J. Cohen presided over the ceremony and expressed his appreciation for the support of Ouarzazate’s Governor, Ahmed Merghich, who also participated in the event.

The new Peace Corps volunteers have completed 11 weeks of intensive training in the Berber language dialects of Tashelhit and Tamazight, in Arabic, and in cross-cultural communications skills. They also received technical training. These new volunteers will work for two years in the sectors of health and environment in predominantly rural Moroccan communities.

In the health sector, the volunteers’ objective will be to increase sanitation and safe water supplies in rural areas. Environmental volunteers are stationed in Morocco’s national parks and ecological reserves with the dual goal of making these areas user-friendly for eco-tourism while increasing environmental awareness among local community members. A second group of volunteers, who will work in the areas of youth development and small business development, will arrive for training in Morocco this fall.

Volunteers reentered Morocco earlier this year based on the successful 42-year history of the program as well as the Moroccan people and government’s strong support of the Peace Corps in the country. Morocco is one of five predominately Muslim countries that the Peace Corps either entered or reentered since 2003. Currently, 20 percent of Peace Corps volunteers serve in predominately Muslim countries.

Since 1962, more than 4,000 Peace Corps volunteers have worked in Morocco in education, environment, health, and small business development. Volunteers in Morocco have completed projects ranging from designing English curricula to working with artisan groups on income generating projects to helping address water quality and sanitation concerns.

   Douglas High grad who was in Morocco during bombings decides to go back
By Karl Horeis Article published August 25, 2003 on Nevada Appeal.
Douglas High School class of '93 graduate Natellie Yurtinus was far from home when several nearly simultaneous bomb attacks struck the Moroccan coastal city of Casablanca. But she wasn't far from the blasts. "A few of my friends and I were at a Spanish restaurant (in Casablanca)," she said. "A maitre d' at the restaurant told us what happened he said there were two bombs." Over the next 24 hours, they learned there were actually five bombs, which killed 31 bystanders and 12 suicide attackers and injured more than 100 people...... "I decided to do another year. I just figure my friends are there so I'll go back and finish my contract."..............

    Interview with Sarah Chayes (TEFL/Fish? 84-85?) on "Fresh Air":

   The Sahara unveiled Valley of the Casbahs: A Journey Across the Moroccan Sahara by Jeffrey Tayler 352pp, Little, Brown, £16.99
Matthew Collin discovers much more than sand dunes in Valley of the Casbahs by Jeffrey Tayler and Sahara by Marq de Villiers and Sheila Hirtle 
Saturday April 12, 2003  The Guardian 

Jeffrey Tayler succumbed to the mystique of the Sahara long before he ever visited it. As a young student of Arabic, he dreamed of shimmering dunes and inscrutable Bedouin, and of following the caravan route of the postwar British explorer and writer Wilfred Thesiger. But his first sight of the desert was less idyllic than he had imagined he got lost and almost died of thirst. Nevertheless, he returned, beguiled by accounts of the Dra Valley, an ancient trading path stretching hundreds of miles across the Moroccan Sahara to the Atlantic

   Article on the Guardian on a new book by RPCV who served in Morocco ('88'90), Jeff Taylor (Valley of the Casbahs). You can read more about Jeff on this RPCV Wrtiers and Readers newsletter page

    Peace Corps Suspends Program in Morocco
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 3, 2003

Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez today announced the temporary suspension of the Peace Corps program in Morocco.

Peace Corps volunteers in Morocco were consolidated on March 20 to allow Peace Corps staff in country and at headquarters in Washington, D.C. to evaluate the political and public climate in Morocco as a result of the events in Iraq. Peace Corps also offered volunteers the option of Interrupted Service for those who preferred not to continue their service.

“After a thorough assessment of safety and security issues it was determined that it would be in the best interest of the Peace Corps volunteers to temporarily suspend the program in Morocco. Moreover, the uncertainty of a date or time for the volunteers to return to their job sites has proven to be a disruption to the continuity of their work,” stated Director Vasquez.

The Moroccan government has been extremely supportive of Peace Corps volunteers and programs in their country and very attentive to the needs of the volunteers during these difficult times. The Peace Corps values the relationship that has been established for more than 40 years and looks forward to returning volunteers to Morocco in the near future. Peace Corps staff will continue to operate the Peace Corps office in Morocco.

Family members may make inquiries about Peace Corps/Morocco by contacting the Peace Corps’ Office of Special Services, which maintains a 24hour a day, 7 days a week duty system. The telephone number during normal business hours is 18004248580, extension 1470. The after hours number is 2026382574. Special Services can also be reached via email at ossdutyofficer@peacecorps.gov.

Read this and other Peace Corps/Morocco-related News Releases

    Peace Corps Swears in New Country Directors
 
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 20, 2002 Peace Corps sworein twelve new Country Directors in a ceremony held at the Peace Corps Headquarters. The new Directors will be going to countries in the Regions of Africa, Europe, the Mediterranean and Asia, as well as InterAmerica and the Pacific.

Peace Corps Country Directors are responsible for management and direction of all aspects of the Peace Corps program in the country of assignment. The Country Directors support 50 to 225 Volunteers as they live and work in a developing country. They lend their skills and energy to meet its development needs and promote a better understanding between the host country people and Americans.

The Directors assignments include:

Morocco
Bruce Cohen has been with the Peace Corps for 20 years. He began his career as a Volunteer in Tunisia from 196769, where he taught English as a foreign language (TEFL). He also spent 14 years in the Peace Corps recruitment office, starting as a recruiter in Indiana and moving on to become the manager of the recruitment offices in Miami and Atlanta, the Regional Service Center Director in Chicago, and the National Director of Recruitment in Washington, D.C. Cohen was also Peace Corps Country Director in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (then Zaire) and Senegal. After leaving the Peace Corps, he became Director of Americorps Recruitment at the Corporation for National Service, Director of International Programs including the Jewish Volunteer Corps at American Jewish World Service in New York, and Director of Volunteer Services at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Cohen's educational background includes a Bachelor of Science of Foreign Service from Georgetown University, and an M.A. in Western European Studies from Illinois State University.

Kiribati
Gordon D. Ferris returns to the Peace Corps as a Country Director, although he began as a Volunteer in Morocco (198183) where he taught carpentry in a vocational education school that he built with 3 other volunteers. His career includes working in affordable housing since 1989, first in Arlington, Virginia, and for the past 31/2 years as executive director of the Summit County Housing Authority in Breckenridge, Colorado. He was vice president of the Northern Virginia Habitat for Humanity affiliate for 5 years. Gordon holds degrees in Construction Management and Real Estate Development. He is a member of the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) and Friends of Morocco, National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO), and International Rotary Club. He and his wife Judy have three kids: Melissa (11), Gordon (8), and Allison (4).

   Renewing ties with old friends in Morocco
By Jabeen Bhatti THE WASHINGTON TIMES
They had traveled to Morocco last month to visit development projects, old haunts and longlost friends and to revive ties to a land they can never forget. They are "Friends of Morocco."....................

    Edina Butler: Finding peace, and a husband, in overseas adventure
Monday, December 02, 2002 By TOM BENNETT The Daily Astorian  tbennett@dailyastorian.com
Edina Butler was searching for a "drastic, dramatic change in my life" when she signed up for a twoyear stint with the Peace Corps teaching health education in the west African nation of Mauritania......

    U.S. should talk with Arab youth, not at them
By Avi M. Spiegel (RPCV Dar Chabab/Morocco)
U.S. officials directing the latest drive to sell America's image to the Muslim world might learn something from students at a youth center in rural Morocco.  While I was a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English to teenagers and young adults in Morocco from 1998 to 2000, I decorated my makeshift classroom with the only pictures around: posters of life in the United States designed by the U.S. Information Service

    Imagining Reality:  Reflections on Development
Jonathan Bringewatt
I had spent two days at another Peace Corps volunteer's site in the High Atlas, Morocco. He lived in a oneroom house without electricity or running water. We collected water from a nearby natural spring. Isn't it strange that I should have to categorize the stream as "natural?" Perhaps that is a reflection of just how "urbanized" I was: down in the provincial capital, where I was living, I could access the internet and listen to the BBC before going to bed every night. The people in this village were farmers, growing wheat, corn, apples, and walnuts............................

    Tales from the Bazaar.
August 1992 by Robert D. Kaplan
For Jack McCreary, it was a moment of sweet satisfaction. A self-described "child of the sixties," who had spent nearly two decades of his life in the Arab world, McCreary was the U.S. embassy's press and culture officer...............

    Speech of HE The Ambassador to theFRIENDS OF MOROCCO” at residence in Celebration of 40+1 years of Peace Corps on June 21, 2002

    Peace Corps Deserves Better Than GOP Deadwood.
By Judy Mann Friday, November 9, 2001; Page C08
At a time when the United States needs friends abroad more than ever, President Bush has nominated to head the Peace Corps a discredited California party hack whose principal public achievement to date has been to help bankrupt the richest county in his state.

    No Time to Be Shortchanging Foreign Aid
Judy Mann Washington Post  Nov 14, 2001
Susana de la Torre was a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco from 1987 to 1989. On the evening of Sept. 11, the first e-mail she received was from her Moroccan "family." They knew that her husband worked for the Department of the Army and that the family lived near the Pentagon.  "They had tried for several hours to call me by phone," de la Torre told me, "but had been unsuccessful and then resorted to e-mailing. I simply cried when I got their e-mail, and I was moved though not surprised at the depth of their caring for me and my family. They contacted us way before many family members ever did to inquire about our safety."  MORE

    The Future of the Medina: Rethinking the Lessons of the Past
By Tom O'brien  Saturday, July 26, 2008
I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Missour in the TEFL program from 1986 to 1989. In September 1995, after completing a Masters Degree in Urban and Regional Planning, I returned to Morocco as a Fulbright Scholar. The aim of my six-month research was to build upon an architectural and urban design study begun in the spring of 1995 by the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  This study sought to develop a reconstruction plan for the Essaouira medina, in particular the mellah.  I was interested in determining how plans for its reconstruction might consider the importance of traditional urban form to the life of the city's inhabitants. I also wanted to obtain responses to initial reconstruction plans from City residents, addressing such issues as the appropriateness of designs for the region's climate and the needs of the resident work force.  MORE

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