The views, opinions, and observations expressed in this journal are my own and in no way reflect the views, opinions, or policy of the Peace Corps, Peace Corps Morocco, nor any other governmental or non-governmental organization.

Nor is anything written here necessarily drawn from my own views, opinions, and observations. Please consider all postings and pictures complete fabrications with absolutely no bearing on reality. For legal purposes, please additionally regard the author as utterly imaginary.

Monday, July 2, 2012

incompetence, confusion, and waste

Before coming over here, I assumed that I would be dogged by the same irritations that made my experience in Cairo so damn frustrating toward the end of my stay there.  Abstracted by time, these tough spots lost much of their emotional bite, and I could satisfy myself with obscure hopes- "I will learn patience, and endurance, and how to accept not having control".  I thought Cairo would be the junior-varsity to my Moroccan Olympics.

Like all fore-thought, these ideas could not capture the complexity of the situation; the impossibility of comparing a term abroad in one North African country with a Peace Corps experience in another.  However, I will try to compare them anyway, at least in one respect.

In Cairo, I was more of a consumer than a (so far mere wanna-be) producer.  I woke up and attended class, tried to take in knowledge, use the school facilities, use the school buses to get around the city, play squash in a sports club for a fee, and went on a couple short trips around the country.  The frustrations arose from impediments to my consumption: the poorly-run university, the terrible teacher, the lazy students, the traffic, how nobody worked during the day, how the air quality made outdoor exercise painful.  In my town, what eats at me is whatever thwarts my attempts to do a 'job'.  Essentially, everything is bogged down by mismanagement, waiting around, miscommunication, and confusion.

For example:
Krista and I return from a productive meeting in Hoceima along with our boss, regarding how we can work together.  We arrive back home invigorated, excited to get on with things now that the King's visit is finally past and perhaps people will be willing to meet with, and work with, us now.  The next day we go to our Dar Shabab and find a notice, announcing that we will be running a summer camp there, from July 8-18, and another one from August 20-30.  Unfortunately, this was news to us.  In fact, we had managed to meet with our delegue after a few weeks of bothering her, and explicitly informed her that we had signed up for another Peace Corps summer opportunity working at a camp from July 15-27, as everybody had told us nobody would want a summer camp here.  We met with our boss the day after seeing the notice, and she was quite upset that we were planning on going elsewhere, rather than working there with her.

The story, from the Peace Corps' side: they sent the Ministry of Youth and Sports a notice, saying that any place with two volunteers could do a summer camp, if that's what the Ministry wanted.  The Ministry responded, the King is coming and we are too busy for this, and besides, nobody will want to do a summer camp here because it's too damn hot and there are better ones on the beach and in the mountains nearby.  The Peace Corps left it at that.  Meanwhile, we had arranged through PC, to work in Ifrane and at another camp in Midelt from July 4-13, and were waiting to hear back about another camp opportunity near Casablanca from August 1-20.  Then, following the King's visit, somebody in the Ministry found that same email, and said, hey, let's make the summer camp here, and stamped and sent out the notices about the camp.

From our boss's side: the Peace Corps should have let the Ministry know that we were going to work at Ifrane.

I've got to side with the Peace Corps on this one.  Mostly because I find it disheartening to think my job was to wait around this town for somebody to finally meet with us on the off-chance that something might happen in the next two months, rather than get some experience and make an impact, by pursuing opportunities elsewhere in-country.  

It is frustrating that nobody was willing to meet with us, the Ministry ignored explicit information from us regarding our plans, and then people are upset that we aren't entirely at their beck and call.  I do not want to sit on my ass all summer.  Anyway, how things now stand-- I am headed to Midelt tomorrow to help out at a camp there, while K waits back in our site to see whether we indeed are going to have a camp here (so far, not a single person has signed up, surprise, surprise).  Hopefully she will meet me in Midelt, or in Ifrane.  Ifrane, also, may suddenly not happen. 

So, in short, the junior-varsity vs. olympics comparison isn't particularly apt.  The frustrations arose from different perspectives, which impart distinct flavors to the vexations.  In Cairo, I could rage against the indeterminate mass that hampered me from acquiring what I wanted.  In Morocco, I am confronted with the actual individuals, who are working in a shoddily-constructed network.  I see that I, too, as much as I may want something to work simply and smoothly, end up being another poorly-oiled cog, barely clanking along, powerless to the inefficient larger whole.

The only true constant between Cairo and Morocco has been gastrointestinal distress.

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The views, opinions, and observations expressed in this journal are my own and in no way reflect the views, opinions, or policy of the Peace Corps, Peace Corps Morocco, governmental or non-governmental organizations.

Nor is anything written here necessarily my own views, opinions, or observations. Please consider all pictures and texts here to be complete fabrications with absolutely no bearing on reality, this one or any other. For legal purposes, please additionally consider the author to be utterly imaginary.