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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Overseas Phone Call from Morocco (Jessica)

Elementary students from Iowa speaks with a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco

Once a year, a few Peace Corps Volunteers get to talk by telephone with U.S. classrooms they've been communicating with. We've recorded some of those conversations. Today, Lakeview Elementary School in Solon, Iowa speaks with Jessica, a Peace Corps Volunteer currently serving in Morocco.

Ron Tschetter
Hi. I'm Ron Tschetter, director of the Peace Corps. For more than 45 years, the Peace Corps has helped communities around the world. Volunteer Voices is a collection of audio stories from just a few of the more than 182,000 volunteers who have served since 1961. For more information on the Peace Corps, go to peacecorps.gov.
Student
In Morocco, do they celebrate the same holidays as we do? Did you celebrate Valentine's Day?
Jessica
Actually, I was trying to think about this, if we celebrate any of the same holidays here, and I think that maybe Valentine's Day is one of the few holidays that is kind of celebrated here, that we celebrate in the United States. Otherwise, they're all different holidays from what we celebrate at home. We don't celebrate Christmas here; we don't celebrate Thanksgiving, or Easter, or Halloween, nope. We don't celebrate Halloween. But people noticed that it was Valentine's Day, and I saw some Valentine's Day decorations up. It wasn't a big holiday like it is back home. But the big holidays here are, like, the Muslim religious holidays, so we celebrated Laee. I think I wrote to some of the kids about some of Laee, that holiday. And birthdays of different people.
Teacher
Yes, we saw it.
Student
What kind of farm animals are there?
Jessica
Farm animals. That's a good question because there are a lot of farm animals here. There are donkeys—there are a lot of donkeys and mules. And you see the donkeys and mules doing a lot of work. They are often carrying really big bundles of grass or wood, or else they're pulling carts. A lot of times, you'll see mules and donkeys pulling carts that people are riding on, or people will just ride the mules and donkeys around, too. You see that a lot. There are some horses, but not a lot of horses. There are a lot of chickens, and roosters, and rabbits, goats, cows, and sheep. But no pigs because people here don't eat pigs.
Student
And what tame animals are in Morocco?
Teacher
Like pets?
Jessica
I've never seen anybody who's had a pet. I mean, people have cats sometimes, but they don't keep them in the house like we do. They kind of just run in and out of the house when they feel like it. I've seen a few people with dogs, but people don't like pets here as much as we do in the States.
Student
What is it like to live in a different country?
Jessica
When you move to a different country, there are a lot of things you have to get used to because people have a different culture and eat different food and celebrate things like weddings and having a new baby differently. It's very exciting because there are so many new things to learn and so many new things to see, but at times it can be frustrating, too, because some days you just want to get up in the morning and have a normal day, but you can't because everything's different. There's going to be a new surprise every day, and that can be really good; that can be really exciting, and it can be really frustrating on certain days, too. But overall it's just a really exciting experience.
Student
What would a school day be like for a second grader in Morocco?
Jessica
The schedule is not the same. My little host sister is actually a second grader, and she goes to school, depending on the day, either from eight in the morning until noon or two until six. So second graders aren't in school for as long every day, but they go to school Monday through Saturday, so they only have Sunday off.
Teacher
That's different.
Jessica
Yeah, it's a little different. That's the way it is here in the country, out in the countryside. But I believe in the cities in Morocco, the schedule is more like it is in Iowa. And as far as subjects that they study, in second grade, my little host sister is starting to learn French. She's starting to learn how to say things like, "Hello, how are you?"
Teacher
So all the students learn French, then?
Jessica
Yep, from a very young age, they learn French. It's kind of the language that people speak when they have jobs and do business here.
Student
What have you seen or done in the Peace Corps that will change your life forever?
Jessica
Well, I think that living in another culture has definitely helped me, even in just six months, to understand America better, and so I think that when I come back to live in America, I will be more aware of what our culture is because before I came here, a lot of things just seemed normal to me. Like putting up the Christmas tree seemed really normal, or going and having a picnic on the picnic table in the summer just seemed normal and didn't seem like American culture, but being here and seeing, "Oh, people don't do these things everywhere—it's not normal. It's a part of our culture that's really special." I think that's an important thing that I've learned.
Student
What do most moms and dads do for a living in Morocco?
Jessica
I would say most moms here in Morocco work in the home, so they do a lot of work, but not like going to an office every day. They'll bake bread every morning—a lot of women bake bread in a wood-fired oven, so if we were going to bake bread at home we would just turn on the oven, but they have to get the wood, gather the wood, keep the fire going at just the right temperature, keep the fire going, and bake the bread. So that's the first thing a lot of women do in the morning. Keeping the house clean is hard because it's in the desert, so a lot of sand and dust is blowing into the house all the time, so women spend a lot of time cleaning the house and doing laundry for the family and things that I guess we would call housework, but here they take a lot more time because we don't have the convenience of washing machines and, you know, things that just make these tasks easier. Somebody needs to do it in every household, and it's usually the mom who does it—and all the cooking and taking care of animals, too, because most families have some sheep or goats that need to be fed a couple of times a day. And the women also go out and work in the farms, so I guess you would say that they are also farmers. They plant seeds, and my host family here grows their own wheat. They plow their field by hand; they plant their wheat by hand, and tend the fields, and harvest the wheat, and grind the grains, and bake the bread, so everything is sort of done at each house.
Teacher
Do they have tractors?
Jessica
No, nope.
Student
What do the dads do?
Jessica
The dads help in the fields, too, sometimes. Some dads have office jobs. My host dad works in a government office here. Or they work in stores, they might have a special skill—like they might be a welder, and they might work with metal, or they might work with wood. But the jobs here are different. There aren't as many office jobs as there are at home. It's more making things, I guess, or else working in the fields.
Student
What do kids our age do in their free time?
Jessica
When kids have free time here, they play a lot with their friends. They ride bikes; they play games in the street. And they play soccer. Kids love soccer and other sports. Kids wouldn't play on the main street, but they'll play in the side street where cars don't go.
Teacher
Well, that sounds very much the same as a second grader here.
Jessica
Yeah, a lot of similarities.
Student
What do you do in your job each day?
Jessica
Well, it really depends on the day. I have a lot of different groups who I work with, so a lot of my time is spent traveling to different parts of town and meeting with people to talk about new ideas for their businesses, talking about how they want to sell their new products and their old products, and who they want to sell their products to. So a lot of my time is spent talking with women, mainly women, who are artisans in my community. And then, a part of my job is just to get to know the culture, too, so sometimes I will spend a day with a family or spend a day going to see a sight around here. For example, yesterday I went to see a fresh water spring that people like to go to play in the water and they take, like, a picnic out there to spend the day—so getting to know the culture. It depends on the day—some days are more work than others.
Student
Are there modern cities in Morocco like you would find in the United States?
Jessica
Yes, there sure are. Cities like Rabat — Rabat is the capital of Morocco, and it's a very modern city. Casablanca is another city you may have heard of in Morocco ; also, it's very modern, and any of the big cities are modern, and people live pretty similarly to how we live in the United States. They do have washing machines and conveniences like we have in the big cities.
Class
Thank you [In unison]
Teacher
Yes, thank you very much.
Jessica
Thank you guys all very much. It was great talking to you today.
Close
Thanks for listening. Are you in a classroom? Do you want stories written just for your class? Enroll in the Correspondence Match Program through Coverdell World Wise Schools. We can connect your class with a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in any region of the world. For enrollment and program information, visit us online at www.peacecorps.gov/wws/correspond.

About the Author

Jessica (Morocco PCV)

Students from Lakeview Elementary School in Solon, Iowa speaks with Jessica, a Peace Corps Volunteer currently serving in Morocco.