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PEACEWORKS

PEACE CORPS MOROCCO’S LITERARY MAGAZINE

FALL 2015


Cover photo by Matt Grady

“The picture is the alley between our house. The greenery right there makes it look like a jungle. We’re surrounded by farm fields and animals… but it’s pretty arid. It’s a little oasis.” - Jennifer Williams

THE STAFF Executive Editors: Alex Matthews, Liz Jones, Jane Bruyere & Byron Wilkes Production Manager: Ryan McFarlin Essay Editors: Adelia Gray & Matt Hendrick Creative Writing Editors: Adelia Gray & Alexander Levin-Epstein Photo Editor: Ben Zapchenk

PEACEWORKS | FALL 2015


Letter from the Editors Hello all, Welcome to our Fall 2015 issue of PeaceWorks. As the leaves turn in some volunteers’ sites and the sun persists in others’, many Peace Corps Volunteers have vivid memories about autumn somewhere in the U.S.: leaves changing color and falling, the cold North wind blowing in, spiced pumpkin lattes. We at PeaceWorks know the cold can bring challenging times (lest we not forget our brothers and sisters without hot water heaters), but how can we see the beauty of spring without the dormancy of winter? With that mind, we wanted this issue to showcase both affirming and arduous experiences of volunteers as we dive into fall. Featured in this issue is a piece by Julie Feng titled “Some Days.” Feng and her husband, Robert Hall, were among the winners of Peace Corps’ Blog It Home 2015 competition. Voters on Facebook chose Feng and Hall’s blog of 20 finalists, from a larger pool of more than 400 blogs. The theme of Peace Corps’ 2015’s Blog It Home Contest was Let Girls Learn. Take a moment to read through and consider whether what you read or see speaks to you. If you feel inspired by something, we warmly welcome submissions from the volunteer community. “Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.” -Max Ehrmann, “Desiderata”

Regards, Byron Wilkes Liz Jones Jane Bruyere Alex Matthews

Have something to submit to PeaceWorks? Email your writing, pictures, art, ideas, recipes, and more to peaceworks.morocco@gmail.com

Photo by Eric Ruth

PEACEWORKS | FALL 2015


SOME DAYS Julie Feng

S

ome days, nothing goes according to plan. The vegetable guy insists on mumbling numbers in French, no matter how many times you beg, “b Darija 3afak!” The police call you and tell you that they need yet another bit of useless paperwork before they can process your carte de séjour. You show up at the Dar Chebab and find that the women’s association has taken your classroom and your whiteboard. Some days, you realize that something small and trivial—your mul hanut greeting you by name or a beaded bracelet snapped on your wrist by a random child—has made your entire day glow. Some days, you invite the neighbor girls into your home while you make brownies and they download “Hijab Makeup Salon” onto your phone without asking. Some days, you feel a bit giddy from all the mutual gift-giving and cheek-kissing. Some days, you feel so tired that you ignore the ring-ring-ring-bang-bang-bang on the door until your landlady has to come chase away the neighborhood girls. Some days, you drop by your host mom’s house to drink harira, and you don’t know whether it’s the turmeric, pepper, cayenne or cilantro on your throat or the welcoming hugs, but you feel a delicious warmth all the way to your toes. Some days, you bring your host mom some “American food” and laugh as she pretends to love it when she actually hates it and laugh even more when she takes a second helping just to encourage you. Some days, your heart aches for cities and towns far away. You left pieces of your heart in those places. Some days, you call the people in those cities and towns who are keeping your heart pieces safe until you return. You just want to hear their voices. Some days, the calls are full of wistfulness and love and happiness. Some days, there is bad news on the other end and you feel like you would give anything to be there and not here. Some days, you make yourself mint tea and pour it from high up even when no one else is watching because now you know—what other way is there to properly pour tea? Some days, you go to the post office to open a mailbox, and for the third or fifth or eighth or tenth time fail completely.

Photo by Eric Ruth

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PEACEWORKS | FALL 2015


Some days, you forget who you’re supposed to call about a lunch or kaskrut invite because there’s been a waterfall of them and you can’t keep track. Some days, you walk away from an acquaintance, fist pumping the air because you still can’t believe you had an entire conversation about a complex topic and you even used past progressive tense! Some days, you want to hide away forever from the embarrassment of accidentally writing “touch” on your posted class schedule instead of “contact.” (Some days, you turn bright red even just thinking about moments like these. Some days, you just shake your head and laugh at yourself.) Some days, you happen to run into several people you know on the way to the market. Some days, you walk home from work with wonderful friends, arm in arm, laughing at each others’ bad jokes. Some days, you hear some creep on the street say something that clings against the inside of your skull like slime. Some days, you don’t leave the house for the entire day because everything feels too heavy. Some days, you wish you could be anonymous and alone. Some days, you just wish you were somewhere else. Some days, you realize you’ve spent your entire life semi-wishing you were somewhere else. Some days, you splurge on Milka chocolate bars or avocados or ice cream to make yourself feel better. Some days, it works. Some days, you just need your mom’s beef noodle soup and it’s nowhere to be found. Some days, you make the “uh-oh” revelation that you are craving couscous and in two years, the craving will be permanent.

Some days, you know this is exactly where you are supposed to be for now.

PEACEWORKS | FALL 2015

This Moroccan Life

Some days, you can barely understand how the world can be so vivid and sharp. Some days, you think about how spectacularly lucky you are. Some days, you think about how you now have true family in a new country. About the friendships you are building. About the students who are inspiring you. And some days, even though you know your little diasporic traveler’s heart can never be truly full— some days, it feels full for just a moment. And that’s enough.

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the remembrance of the solitary event on a mountainside

clear sky soft wind quiet air

the two alone he grips the handle of the blade

L3id Thoughts Lindsay Brenner

his son bound

his faithfulness is acknowledged a creature appears and is captured his son released

again gripping the handle of the blade the creature is now restrained

metal jerks blood flows

Photo by Matt Grady

life fades once nestled and warm, the organs cascade and part from one another severed, organized and placed on the smoldering logs

the smoke wafts satisfying the Great one

the ancient sacrifice the connections of the present and past and all the in between humanity

Waxing Poetic

the cells of ourselves

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consume the cells of the creature

we consume the physical, we consume the spiritual the memories of our ancestors PEACEWORKS | FALL 2015


I have learned I am strong. resilient flawed but compassionate.

I have learned Morocco is beautiful. Hostile on the cusp young - in its understanding of equality and freedom but venerable - in its celebration of family and unity.

Morocco, You have opened my heart and left it exposed... The thrill and pain of this devastating lovely adventure is my forever-teacher. My perspective is widened, My humility is strengthened, Thank You.

Photo by Eric Ruth

Katie Rick

PEACEWORKS | FALL 2015

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This Moroccan Life

Emma Goldbas

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I woke up to the sound of the Ulama’s lungs radiating echoes of Allah’s words through my windows. It was louder than usual because the streets were empty. All of Azilal’s children were sleeping, but dedicated Muslims were awake, bowing toward Mecca in habitual acts of worship. I was up at daybreak, the light of dawn outlining my pathway downstairs and into the streets. I would meet the all-girls soccer team in front of the municipality—a group of girls from the periphery of my city who are sponsored to play a “man’s game.” We waited for close to an hour before a big, dark, gray van picked us up. As a guest, I was offered one of four seats; the rest of the girls piled into the back of the seatless bus, sitting on top of one another like immigrants coming in through New York’s welcoming gates. We rode down the Atlas Mountains, our gray van riding her curves as the girls sang Berber songs and played the darbouka. Closer to the lake, looking up at apricot glazed skies, the lake rippled slowly as the morning light opened up like the omnipotent power was greeting us with the morning. Clouds moved horizontally. Through all of the dancing and singing, every girl, with aching stomachs, vomited then ditched their plastic bags of nerves and carsickness out the window and continued with their excited cheers. Before long, the day transformed from foraging through a day not knowing anyone and making limited sentences for lack of comfort with my surroundings, to a day well spent with strangers turned friends turned snuggle Photo by Elaine Moran buddies on midnight rides home—to my new home, up the stairs to rooms with closed windows; I can’t be seen undressing as eager eyes, curious eyes, await for the Americans to come home. That night, I arrived home past the closing of the evening. I rummaged through my purse to find my keys as the clock struck 1 am, and much like the way my day had begun, the streets were quiet. This time the stars glittered, the sun hid its shining face, and all of Azilal’s children, parents, friends, lovers—everyone, was sleeping except for me.

PEACEWORKS | FALL 2015


Photo by Allen McConeghey

Circles

You are raised in a small town. Everyone looks the same. They have the same color eyes. They have the same color hair. They have the same color skin. They wear the same clothes. Everyone is the same religion. This is not a choice, but a fact. As every person you have ever known has told you.

You are male. It is written that men are more capable than women, and that women must always be subservient to men. Both your mother and father reinforce this fact through their actions and words. Women are meant for cooking and cleaning and serving. This is a fact. Every other family you know functions like this. You did not choose to be born into this life. You literally know nothing else.

Photo by Allen McConeghey

Photo by Rosana Zarza-Canova

A stranger visits your town. She has different skin and different eyes and different hair. You stare at her and yell words at her. Along with everyone else in your town. No one tells you this is wrong. You have never even been exposed to the idea that this is not the way it has to be. How can you be blamed? Katie Rick

PEACEWORKS | FALL 2015

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Photos by Matt Grady

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PEACEWORKS | FALL 2015


Emma Goldbas

W

hen the snow kisses your streets, they seem cleaner than before.

It covers the trash that is splayed across your sidewalks like a confused modern artist’s obscure studio. I think it even smells better. I don’t seem to swallow air that sometimes poisons my nostrils from the scent of burning trash and plastic bags.

TiN RoOf RaInDrOpS

The scent of Atlas snow suffocates the butane gas that leaks into my bedroom and into my pores, giving me a temporary relief to revel in the beauty that surrounds me.

I sleep in a room of perfect strangers that YES, are perfect to me now.

I had cake for breakfast again, chocolate center with almond frosting washed down with sweetened tea and homemade bread dipped in olive oil.

I walk through the tiny dark corridors of my new home, my feet resting on makeshift carpets covering cement-cracked floors. Then, I walk outside and greet my family’s chickens.

I can feel my teeth decaying, but my heart growing fonder of all the things that make this city different than the rest.

Since my last visit, the chicks have grown stocky, plump, big. We will have them for dinner soon.

My new home, another Atlas wonderland, a town perched over the southern deserts, has a quaintness that is irreplaceable. I fall asleep to raindrops pitter-pattering on our tin roof, the rain, it covers our small mud home with the sky’s most precious tears, swallowing and decapitating its very structure.

Opening my heart as wide as I can, cracking the vessels to let new air in, with each breath, my sanctuary is becoming real right in front of my eyes in shapes, forms, colors, smells I never thought could bring me such peace. This is it, welcome home, welcome home.

I played with children of Moroccan mothers and held their growing, precious palms. They kiss me like I am their sister from birth. I am comfortable in a place where I have no tap water, with a family that has never seen a dentist nor a doctor.

Waxing Poetic Photo by Allen McConeghey

PEACEWORKS | FALL 2015

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Painting by Jennifer Williams

FALL 2015

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PEACEWORKS

FALL 2015

PeaceWorks Fall 2015  

PeaceWorks is a literary magazine created for and by Volunteers in Peace Corps Morocco

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