Difference between pages "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Jordan" and "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Morocco"

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===Communications===
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==Communications ==
  
====Mail====
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During pre-service training, you will receive mail at the Peace Corps/Morocco office, which will forward mail to the training site at least once a week. Please do not have packages sent to you during training. After you are assigned to your permanent site, you will receive mail at a local post office or at your workplace. Packages should be sent directly to your site after training. Depending on the distance to your site from Rabat, mail may take anywhere from three days to three weeks to get to you.
  
Few countries in the world offer the level of mail service we take for granted in the United States. Though the Jordanian mail service is generally reliable, some mail may simply not arrive (fortunately this is not a frequent occurrence, but it does happen). Advise family and friends to send all letters via air mail. Mail can sometimes take as long as two to four weeks between U.S. and Jordan in either direction.
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Your mailing address during training will be:
  
If possible, write your family on a regular basis and number your letters. Experience has shown that when a month or two goes by without news from the Volunteer, friends and loved ones become very concerned. Please advise parents, friends, and relatives that mail may be sporadic and that they should not worry if they do not receive your letters regularly.
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"Your Name", Trainee <br>
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s/c Corps de la Paix <br>
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2, rue Abou Marouane Essaadi <br>
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Agdal, Rabat 10100, MOROCCO <br>
  
Packages can be sent via international mail through the U.S.  postal system. All packages addressed to you are subject to customs. Hints: Used items are usually delivered customs-free, while new items are taxed at full value. Smaller packages (particularly those in padded envelopes) seem to make it through with relative ease.
 
  
Important: Never have anyone send cash through the mail. Such letters seldom arrive. Packages are inspected by custom officers.  
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It normally takes 10 to 12 days for an airmail letter to arrive from the United States. Surface mail takes from one to four months. Mail that goes through the Moroccan post office is subject to customs inspection, censorship, and currency control. Advise your friends and relatives that mail delivery is sporadic and that they should not worry if they do not receive your letters regularly. Also, they should never send cash through the mail, as it will seldom reach you. Please check the U.S. Post Service website at www.usps.com for the latest updates on how best to send your letter or package.  Currently, the USPS recommends air Parcel Post (not surface mail) for packages, or airmail for letters.  
  
Your address during pre-service training will be:
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Although having packages sent from home is not recommended because of the unreliability of mail service and the customs fees, if you do have packages sent, brown padded envelopes work well. Make sure they have the green customs label and are marked as gifts, which should prevent the imposition of fees. It is best to wait to have packages sent until you know your permanent address. Again, please do not have your family send you packages during pre-service training.
  
“Your Name,” PCT
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===Telephones ===
  
c/o Peace Corps/Jordan
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Telephone and telegraph services are available in all parts of the country. Volunteers in larger cities may have a telephone in their home. Many Volunteers purchase inexpensive cellphones in Morocco, an expense that is not covered by the Peace Corps. Public telephones (called teleboutiques) suitable for making direct-dial international calls exist in most towns. Collect calls can be made only at a post and telecommunications office, and you should anticipate a wait.  AT&T and MCI calling cards work in Morocco.
  
P.O. Box 6338
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The Peace Corps office in Morocco can be reached by direct dialing from the United States. During normal working hours, the office number (from most states) is 011.212.3.768-3780, and a duty officer monitors calls for emergencies after office hours. Volunteers are not permitted to use telephones at the Peace Corps/Morocco office to call family or friends unless the call pertains to an emergency and is approved in advance by the country director.  
  
Amman 11118
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===Computer, E-mail, and Internet Access ===
  
Jordan
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Volunteers, typically, are able to access e-mail and the Internet at cybercafes. Cybercafes are affordable, generally reliable and can be found in increasing numbers in just about any town or city. Most Volunteers do not have a cyber café at their site, but most are within a few hours’ travel from one.  The Volunteer lounge at the Peace Corps office in Rabat is equipped with two computers, both with Internet access, and a printer reserved for Volunteer use. Volunteers are not allowed to use staff computers.
  
During pre-service training, mail should be sent to the above address. Mail will be forwarded to the training site regularly.  Do not have packages sent during training, as they will have to be cleared in Amman and you will not have access to the post office during working hours. Once you are at your permanent site, it will be wise to get to know the post office staff and have mail sent directly there. In Jordan, personal relationships are extremely important and can help with red tape.  
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Some Volunteers bring their laptop computers, but they are responsible for insuring and maintaining the computers themselves. The Peace Corps will not replace stolen computers and strongly encourages those who bring them to get personal property insurance.  
  
====Telephones====
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==Housing and Site Location ==
  
Generally, high quality, long-distance communication is available.  However, Volunteers have had little success with calling cards (AT&T, MCI, etc.). It is possible to purchase Jordanian pre-paid international phone cards in various JD (Jordanian dinar) denominations, but these can only be used for public phones. Cellphones from the United States will not work here. Cellphones can be purchased in Jordan, and many Volunteers purchase them (at their own expense) to keep in touch with family and friends in Jordan and in the United States.
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You will be assigned to your permanent site towards the end of pre-service training. After your site announcement, you will visit your assigned site to meet your counterparts and other members of your community. Once you move to the site, you will spend your first two months living with a host family that has been chosen by the Peace Corps. This family has prepared for your arrival and will provide you with a safe and secure place to live while you continue to learn the language and adapt to the culture. An additional objective of this period is to help you integrate more effectively into the community.  
  
====Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access ====
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After the mandatory two-month stay with a Moroccan family, you are free to change your housing, in accordance with the Peace Corps’ safety and security criteria (see the chapter on Health Care and Safety). The Peace Corps will give you a modest settling-in allowance to purchase household necessities such as a stove, dishes, and furniture. Peace Corps will provide additional items, such as a carbon monoxide detector and water filter, if necessary. Volunteers in areas that experience unbearably cold winters can be reimbursed for the purchase of an appropriate heater. Depending on the site, Volunteer housing generally consists of two or more rooms and private bath and latrine facilities. Some Volunteers live in family compounds with one or two private rooms for their use.
  
While computers are available in most schools and in some host agencies in Jordan, you should not expect your work site to have Internet access or e-mail. Internet cafés are found in all major cities, usually at a cost of JD1 (U.S. $1.40) per hour.  Some Volunteers have laptops. The Peace Corps office has three computers and a printer for Volunteer use during office hours. Volunteers must coordinate their use among themselves.  
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While many Volunteers in Morocco have running water and electricity, you may not have these amenities and may collect your water from an outside faucet or well and spend your evenings reading by candle or lantern. You need to be very flexible in your housing expectations, as there are no guarantees of continuous electricity or water.  
  
===Housing and Site Location ===
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Depending on your program and assignment, you may be placed in a community that ranges from a large, semi-urban town to a very small rural village. Some Volunteers share a site, while others are quite a distance from other Volunteers.  Peace Corps staff members visit all sites to ensure that they meet the Peace Corps’ safety and security criteria. Staff also visit all Volunteers intermittently to provide personal, medical, and professional support.
  
After completing pre-service training, you will move to your actual work site for two years of service. Your host agency or school will have helped to identify acceptable housing within the local community. Your living accommodation is intended to be simple and comparable to your Jordanian neighbors. Most buildings in Jordan are concrete and not insulated. Your house/ apartment will likely have one or two rooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom. The Peace Corps will provide a refrigerator, gas space heater, stove (no oven), and a small allowance for the purchase of essential household items. Washing machines, clothes dryers, air conditioners, and central heating are seldom found in either urban or rural areas and will not be featured in Volunteer housing, but you will have indoor plumbing, electricity, and hot water.
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==Living Allowance and Money Management ==
  
Volunteer accommodations must meet the Peace Corps’ health, safety, and security standards, yet be modest and typical of the area in which you work and live. You may have an apartment or a free-standing house, some part of which may be occupied by the owner’s family. You will also have the option to live with a host family that can enhance your cross-cultural experience.  
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As a Volunteer in Morocco, you will receive four types of allowances. The first is a one-time settling-in allowance, currently five thousand Moroccan dirhams (MAD 5000), that is used to buy basic household items when you move to your site. This amount is reviewed once a year through a “settling-in survey” to ensure that the allowance is sufficient. You will receive a monthly living allowance, currently MAD 2000, to cover your basic expenses, i.e., food, utilities, household supplies, clothing, recreation and entertainment, communications costs (e.g., cell phone cards, internet access), transportation, reading material, and other incidentals. Your monthly rent will be covered separately by the Peace Corps. The living allowance is paid in local currency and is sent to Volunteers during the third week of each month for the following month. The living allowance is reviewed once a year through a market survey to ensure that it is adequate.  You may find that you receive more remuneration than your counterpart or supervisor.  
  
You are expected to live in the village where you work. This is very important! Some of your Jordanian supervisors and co-workers may commute from the nearest town and be less involved in community life. However, as a Volunteer, you are more than an employee doing a job. You are considered a member of the community in which you work, and there is no better way to demonstrate this than by being visible and involved.  
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You will also receive a vacation allowance of $24 (currently MAD 220) per month and a travel allowance to cover the cost of work-related trips (pre-approved work-related leave, official Peace Corps events, etc.). The current travel allowance policy is under review.  
  
Other Volunteers will be within relatively close proximity due to Jordan’s small size and reliable transportation. You may have another Volunteer in the same village, or it may be a few hours by bus to the nearest Volunteer site. The Peace Corps office in Amman is no more than a four- or five-hour drive from the furthest Volunteer site (public buses may take longer).  
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Most Volunteers find they can live comfortably in Morocco with these allowances. Volunteers are strongly discouraged from supplementing their income with money brought from home, as they are expected to live at the economic level of their neighbors and colleagues. Nevertheless, credit cards are handy for vacations and travel and can be used in several establishments in the larger cities. Traveler’s checks can be cashed for a small percentage fee. ATMs can be found at most major banks in large cities.
  
===Living Allowance and Money Management===
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==Food and Diet ==
  
Once sworn in, Volunteers receive a monthly living allowance in Jordanian dinars. This living allowance covers daily needs such as rent, utilities, food, and toiletries. Depending on lifestyle choices, most Volunteers live comfortably on their monthly living allowance. Volunteers also receive a small leave allowance.  
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A wide variety of fruits and vegetables are available year-round, and all meats except pork are readily available. Dairy products like yogurt and milk can usually be obtained.  Although maintaining a vegetarian diet should not be difficult, you will be confronted with cultural issues when visiting Moroccan families, as they will offer you, and expect you to accept, traditional foods. Thus vegetarians need to be flexible about sharing the Moroccan diet when visiting friends and neighbors.  
  
Peace Corps/Jordan establishes a bank account (with an ATM card) for every Volunteer. All allowances are deposited directly into that account. ATM access is exceptionally good throughout Jordan.  
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Fresh bread is widely available and is an important part of the Moroccan diet. Pastries are available in larger towns, and pasta is available in almost any small shop.  
  
There should be no need to supplement your living allowance with money from home. In fact, you are discouraged from using personal savings to raise your lifestyle above that of your Jordanian colleagues. Volunteers may, nevertheless, wish to bring along a credit card for emergencies, trips, or special occasions. American Express, Visa, and MasterCard are accepted in many hotels, shops, and restaurants frequented by tourists, especially in the capital and larger towns. In Amman, there are a number of places to change money with little or no commission.  ATMs are widely available and will accept most major bankcards.  Banks will charge at least a 1.5 percent cashing fee for traveler’s checks and some will only cash them for their customers.  
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Mint tea is a Moroccan's favorite drink. It is traditionally very sweet and is served throughout the day. The numerous cafes in Morocco, which are mostly frequented by men, also serve coffee and fresh orange juice. Because Morocco is a Muslim country, beer and wine are not usually available in rural areas.
  
===Food and Diet ===
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==Transportation ==
  
High-quality food is generally available in Jordan. Tea, unleavened flat bread (pita), rice, and yogurt are Jordanian staples and you can find a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices. In addition, eggs, powdered milk and drink mixes, canned tuna, pasta/noodles, and processed cheese are also on hand. Lamb, chicken, and goat are common; however, due to their relatively high cost, they are not always included in daily diets. In general, meals are rice-based and mildly spiced.  
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Most Volunteers travel within the country in commercial buses or long-distance taxis (grand taxi). Local taxis (petit taxis) are available in all medium and large cities. If required for their work, Volunteers are issued bicycles with bicycle helmets. To reduce safety risks, Peace Corps/Morocco prohibits Volunteers from driving or riding on any two- or three-wheeled motorized vehicle (such as a motorcycle) for any reason. Nor are Volunteers allowed to own or drive private cars. Violation of these policies may result in termination of your Volunteer service.  
  
Vegetarians will experience minimal problems in ensuring an interesting and wholesome diet. You should be aware, however, that most meals in Jordanian homes are eaten from a common plate, and there will likely be meat on the plate.
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==Geography and Climate ==
  
Small shops, called doucans, are found everywhere, even in the smallest rural community. The range of goods offered depends on the size of the community and local preferences. Only very basic foods and household necessities are found in the smallest stores. There are several 24-hour supermarkets in Amman and a few other cities, and mini-markets are universally found in provincial towns.  
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Morocco is sometimes referred to as the cold country with the hot sun. The sun shines most of the year, but the cold can penetrate straight to your bones. The country has a varied geography, with beaches, mountains, desert, and agricultural land. The north tends to receive more rain than the south, so the majority of agriculture occurs in the north.  
  
Islamic law forbids eating pork and drinking alcohol. Although somewhat tolerant of other people’s beliefs and customs, rural Jordanians are likely to show little respect to Volunteers who are known to drink—especially if it becomes public knowledge through gossip or if the physical effects of overindulgence are apparent. Tea, Arabic coffee, soft drinks, fruit juices, and bottled water are readily available throughout the country.  
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Moving southward, the landscape changes to desert, turning into the Sahara in the deep southeast. Morocco boasts a popular ski resort in the Atlas Mountains outside Marrakech, and on either side of the mountains are flat, hot, and dry plains. Summer is hot all over Morocco, with coastal areas experiencing greater relative humidity than inland areas.  
  
The holy month of Ramadan follows the Islamic calendar, so its timing changes every year. Ramadan is a time when nothing is consumed during daylight hours (fast is broken at nightfall). Smoking is not permitted during the day.  Volunteers should be respectful of religious requirements and significance during the month of Ramadan. As Ramadan will begin while you are still a trainee, you will experience what that entails during pre-service training.
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==Social Activities ==
  
===Transportation ===
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Morocco is more tolerant than many other Muslim nations toward Western cultural norms. But while people in large cities tend to dress in Western clothing, those in rural communities are still very traditional. Most Volunteers live in small towns or rural settings and need to conform to local customs. Men have more external freedom than women do in that they can circulate freely outside the home. Cultural norms do not allow men and women to mix freely outside the home, and women tend to spend more time in the home, taking care of domestic affairs and socializing with other women. Moroccans are known for their hospitality, and you should expect invitations to dinner, weddings, and other social functions.
  
As a Volunteer in Jordan, you are not permitted to own, rent, or operate any form of motorized vehicle, including motorcycles.
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==Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior ==
  
Volunteers are also not permitted to be a passenger on a motorcycle. Most Volunteers can catch a small village bus from their home into the nearest city. In these small cities, they can catch a bus to Amman. Although buses are cheap and universal, they can be time-consuming and unpredictable, as they do not run on fixed schedules. Since most village buses stop running at nightfall (4:45 p.m. in the winter), patience and planning are required. Within larger regional centers, private and shared taxis are most frequently used. Travel on buses within Amman is manageable, but at first it will be an adventure as there are neither set schedules nor posted routes.  
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The people of Morocco take pride in their personal appearance. To gain their acceptance, respect, and confidence, it is essential that you dress and conduct yourself professionally. Dress standards for Volunteers are generally conservative. Women may wear pants with long-sleeved shirts for normal work-related activity, but are expected to wear long, casual skirts or dresses for more professional activities (e.g., meetings and/or workshops with Ministry representatives). Men are expected to wear long trousers for most activities.  
  
===Geography and Climate===
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Adhering to the conservative dress codes in Morocco is a test of your motivation and commitment to adapt to your new environment. If you have reservations about this, you should consider the amount of sacrifice and flexibility required to be successful and reevaluate your decision to become a Volunteer.
  
The geography of Jordan is varied, from the Dead Sea at 1,300 feet below sea level (the lowest place on earth) to mountains reaching 5,700 feet. On the western edge of the country, the Jordan River winds its way through a low valley into the Dead Sea. Mountains rise to the east of this valley, with Amman located on the central highlands. About 80 percent of Jordan is arid, rocky, and receives less than 100 millimeters of rain per year. The temperature varies from 120 degrees Farenheit in the summer to below freezing in the winter. Skies are blue and sunny from March until November, and from November to March when it does rain, it pours.  
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The Peace Corps expects Volunteers to behave in a way that will foster respect within their communities and reflect well on the Peace Corps and on the United States. You will receive an orientation to appropriate behavior and cultural sensitivity during pre-service training. As a Volunteer, you have the status of an invited guest, and thus you need to be sensitive to the habits, tastes, and taboos of your hosts.  
  
===Professionalism, Dress, Behavior===
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Certain behaviors can jeopardize the Peace Corps’ mission in Morocco as well as your personal safety and thus cannot be tolerated by the Peace Corps. Engaging in these behaviors may lead to administrative separation, a decision by the Peace Corps to terminate your service. The Volunteer Handbook provides more information on the grounds for administrative separation.
  
Jordan is a Muslim country and you will work in rural areas and small towns. Jordanians take great pride in their personal appearance no matter what their economic status. Dress codes are very conservative. To gain the acceptance, respect, and confidence of your co-workers, it is essential that you dress and conduct yourself modestly and professionally. Suits are not required, but clothing should always be neat and clean. It is not appropriate to wear jeans or T-shirts at the workplace or on social occasions. (As you adjust to Jordanian culture and can make more informed decisions about dress, you may find a few social or tourist situations where jeans would be acceptable.) Shorts are never appropriate for male or female Volunteers, regardless of the weather or activity. Halter-tops or tight-fitting apparel worn by women are considered offensive and provocative by Jordanians and must not be worn. Most women in Jordan cover their hair with a scarf, and while Volunteers will not be expected to do so, they may still receive some pressure to cover. Female Volunteers wear loose-fitting clothing that covers wrists and ankles and shirts that reach mid-thigh. Male Volunteers wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts for work. The packing list section at the end of this book goes into more detail regarding appropriate choices. Dressing according to local custom is crucial for successful integration.
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==Personal Safety ==
  
Important! Appropriate clothing can easily be purchased once you’ve arrived. There is no need to pack an entire wardrobe before you see for yourself what the dress codes are really like.  
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More information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is outlined in the Health Care and Safety chapter, but it is an important issue and cannot be overemphasized. As stated in the Volunteer Handbook, becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer entails certain safety risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment (often alone), having a limited understanding of local language and culture, and being perceived as wealthy are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Many Volunteers experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. Petty thefts and burglaries are not uncommon, and incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help Volunteers reduce their risks and enhance their safety and security. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.  
  
The weather can be very hot, so natural fibers will be more comfortable. Winters are cold and sometimes wet with snow falling in some areas. Appropriate warm clothing and layering are necessary, as most buildings and offices are insufficiently heated.
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==Rewards and Frustrations ==
  
Jordanians generally do not exercise outdoors, but a few Volunteers have eventually felt comfortable running in their villages with the appropriate attire. Volunteers should consider options for indoor physical activity (jumping rope, yoga, etc.).  
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Although the potential for job satisfaction is quite high, like all Volunteers, you will encounter numerous frustrations.  Because of financial or other challenges, collaborating agencies do not always provide the support promised. Moreover, the pace of work and life is slower than what most Americans are accustomed to, and some people you work with may be hesitant to change practices and traditions that are centuries old. For these reasons, the Peace Corps experience of adapting to a new culture and environment is often described as a series of emotional peaks and valleys.  
  
The Peace Corps expects Volunteers to behave in a manner that fosters respect within your community and reflects well on you as a citizen of the United States and a Volunteer in the Peace Corps. You will receive ample training in appropriate behavior and cultural sensitivity during pre-service training.  
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You will be given a high degree of responsibility and independence in your work—perhaps more than in any other job you have had or will have. Often you will find yourself in situations that require an ability to motivate yourself and your co-workers with little guidance from supervisors. You might work for months without seeing any visible impact from, or without receiving feedback on, your work. Development is a slow process. Positive progress most often comes only after the combined efforts of several Volunteers over the course of many years. You must possess the self-confidence, patience, and vision to continue working toward long-term goals without seeing immediate results.  
  
As a Volunteer, you have the status of an invited guest, and thus you should be sensitive to the habits, tastes, and taboos of your hosts. Public drinking or even references to alcohol are offensive and can be damaging to a Volunteer’s reputation and, hence, effectiveness. Also, there are strong taboos regarding intimate relationships, and extreme discretion must be exercised. Unmarried Muslim women engaging in sexual relations may be subject to severe family retribution and even death. It is forbidden for unmarried males and females to be alone together. This applies to Volunteers as well, so it is inappropriate for males and females to visit each other at their sites. You must constantly monitor your personal behavior and understand the consequences of your actions.  
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To overcome these difficulties, you will need maturity, flexibility, open-mindedness, and resourcefulness. The Peace Corps staff, your co-workers, and fellow Volunteers will support you during times of challenge as well as in moments of success. Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the peaks are well worth the difficult times, and most Volunteers leave Morocco feeling that they have gained much more than they sacrificed during their service. If you are able to make the commitment to integrate into your community and work hard, you will be a successful Volunteer.  
  
Long hair on men is not culturally acceptable and male trainees should arrive at staging with short, undyed hair.
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[[Category:Morocco]]
 
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Body piercing is unacceptable and tattooes must be covered at all times. Pierced ears for women are acceptable.
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===Social Activities===
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Volunteers find the hospitality and generosity of Jordanians to be a wonderful part of the culture, and visiting and tea drinking will likely become a daily routine for you. Social activities will vary depending on where you are located as well as your gender and marital status. Many Volunteers attend weddings, parties, and picnics with Jordanians and often visit neighbors’ and colleagues’ homes for lunch or tea. Most social activities revolve around food and family, and there can be pressure to eat a lot. During Ramadan, Volunteers often fast and are invited to share iftar (a feast of traditional Jordanian dishes) with neighbors and friends at sunset.
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There is strict separation between genders in Jordan. For example, men and women, although celebrating the same occasion, will do so in separate areas. Male Volunteers should not expect to socialize with female Volunteers after training at either’s site. This standard is applied even to visiting friends and family members of the opposite sex.
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===Personal Safety===
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More information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is detailed in the Health Care and Safety section, but this is such an important issue that it cannot be overemphasized. As stated in the Volunteer Handbook, becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer entails certain safety risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment, having limited understanding of local language and culture, and being perceived as wealthy are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Many Volunteers experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies to help Volunteers reduce these risks and enhance their safety and security. That said, you are expected to take primary responsibility for your safety and well-being.
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===Rewards and Frustrations ===
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Although the potential for job satisfaction is quite high, like all Volunteers, you will encounter numerous frustrations. Due to financial or other challenges, collaborating agencies do not always provide the support promised. The pace of work and life is much slower than what most Americans consider normal. For these reasons, your Peace Corps experience will be a journey of emotional peaks and valleys as you adapt to the new culture and environment.
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You may be given a high degree of responsibility and independence in your work, perhaps more than in any other job you have had or will ever experience. Often you will find yourself in situations that require an ability to motivate yourself and your counterparts with little guidance from supervisors. You may work for months without seeing any visible impact or without receiving feedback on your work.  Development is a slow process! Positive progress is often seen only after the combined efforts of several generations of Volunteers. You must possess the self-confidence, patience, and vision to continue working toward long-term goals without the validation of immediate results.
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Though you will not be making as many environmental adjustments in Jordan as you might in other Peace Corps countries, you must be aware of and accept the significant cultural adjustments you will have to make (not drinking alcohol, gender expectations, loss of privacy). Be open to these changes and take time to consider them before leaving the U.S. Jordan is a beautiful country with generous people.  The adjustments may be difficult at times, but it will be worth it to become a full participant in your community.
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To approach and overcome these challenges, you will need maturity, flexibility, and resourcefulness. You must make a commitment to integrate into your community, withhold judgment, and work hard, if you expect to be a success.  Peace Corps staff, your co-workers, and fellow Volunteers will support you during times of challenge as well as in moments of success. Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the highs are well worth the lows and most depart feeling that they have gained as much as or more than they gave.
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[[Category:Jordan]]
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Revision as of 09:38, 8 December 2015

Country Resources


Communications

During pre-service training, you will receive mail at the Peace Corps/Morocco office, which will forward mail to the training site at least once a week. Please do not have packages sent to you during training. After you are assigned to your permanent site, you will receive mail at a local post office or at your workplace. Packages should be sent directly to your site after training. Depending on the distance to your site from Rabat, mail may take anywhere from three days to three weeks to get to you.

Your mailing address during training will be:

"Your Name", Trainee
s/c Corps de la Paix
2, rue Abou Marouane Essaadi
Agdal, Rabat 10100, MOROCCO


It normally takes 10 to 12 days for an airmail letter to arrive from the United States. Surface mail takes from one to four months. Mail that goes through the Moroccan post office is subject to customs inspection, censorship, and currency control. Advise your friends and relatives that mail delivery is sporadic and that they should not worry if they do not receive your letters regularly. Also, they should never send cash through the mail, as it will seldom reach you. Please check the U.S. Post Service website at www.usps.com for the latest updates on how best to send your letter or package. Currently, the USPS recommends air Parcel Post (not surface mail) for packages, or airmail for letters.

Although having packages sent from home is not recommended because of the unreliability of mail service and the customs fees, if you do have packages sent, brown padded envelopes work well. Make sure they have the green customs label and are marked as gifts, which should prevent the imposition of fees. It is best to wait to have packages sent until you know your permanent address. Again, please do not have your family send you packages during pre-service training.

Telephones

Telephone and telegraph services are available in all parts of the country. Volunteers in larger cities may have a telephone in their home. Many Volunteers purchase inexpensive cellphones in Morocco, an expense that is not covered by the Peace Corps. Public telephones (called teleboutiques) suitable for making direct-dial international calls exist in most towns. Collect calls can be made only at a post and telecommunications office, and you should anticipate a wait. AT&T and MCI calling cards work in Morocco.

The Peace Corps office in Morocco can be reached by direct dialing from the United States. During normal working hours, the office number (from most states) is 011.212.3.768-3780, and a duty officer monitors calls for emergencies after office hours. Volunteers are not permitted to use telephones at the Peace Corps/Morocco office to call family or friends unless the call pertains to an emergency and is approved in advance by the country director.

Computer, E-mail, and Internet Access

Volunteers, typically, are able to access e-mail and the Internet at cybercafes. Cybercafes are affordable, generally reliable and can be found in increasing numbers in just about any town or city. Most Volunteers do not have a cyber café at their site, but most are within a few hours’ travel from one. The Volunteer lounge at the Peace Corps office in Rabat is equipped with two computers, both with Internet access, and a printer reserved for Volunteer use. Volunteers are not allowed to use staff computers.

Some Volunteers bring their laptop computers, but they are responsible for insuring and maintaining the computers themselves. The Peace Corps will not replace stolen computers and strongly encourages those who bring them to get personal property insurance.

Housing and Site Location

You will be assigned to your permanent site towards the end of pre-service training. After your site announcement, you will visit your assigned site to meet your counterparts and other members of your community. Once you move to the site, you will spend your first two months living with a host family that has been chosen by the Peace Corps. This family has prepared for your arrival and will provide you with a safe and secure place to live while you continue to learn the language and adapt to the culture. An additional objective of this period is to help you integrate more effectively into the community.

After the mandatory two-month stay with a Moroccan family, you are free to change your housing, in accordance with the Peace Corps’ safety and security criteria (see the chapter on Health Care and Safety). The Peace Corps will give you a modest settling-in allowance to purchase household necessities such as a stove, dishes, and furniture. Peace Corps will provide additional items, such as a carbon monoxide detector and water filter, if necessary. Volunteers in areas that experience unbearably cold winters can be reimbursed for the purchase of an appropriate heater. Depending on the site, Volunteer housing generally consists of two or more rooms and private bath and latrine facilities. Some Volunteers live in family compounds with one or two private rooms for their use.

While many Volunteers in Morocco have running water and electricity, you may not have these amenities and may collect your water from an outside faucet or well and spend your evenings reading by candle or lantern. You need to be very flexible in your housing expectations, as there are no guarantees of continuous electricity or water.

Depending on your program and assignment, you may be placed in a community that ranges from a large, semi-urban town to a very small rural village. Some Volunteers share a site, while others are quite a distance from other Volunteers. Peace Corps staff members visit all sites to ensure that they meet the Peace Corps’ safety and security criteria. Staff also visit all Volunteers intermittently to provide personal, medical, and professional support.

Living Allowance and Money Management

As a Volunteer in Morocco, you will receive four types of allowances. The first is a one-time settling-in allowance, currently five thousand Moroccan dirhams (MAD 5000), that is used to buy basic household items when you move to your site. This amount is reviewed once a year through a “settling-in survey” to ensure that the allowance is sufficient. You will receive a monthly living allowance, currently MAD 2000, to cover your basic expenses, i.e., food, utilities, household supplies, clothing, recreation and entertainment, communications costs (e.g., cell phone cards, internet access), transportation, reading material, and other incidentals. Your monthly rent will be covered separately by the Peace Corps. The living allowance is paid in local currency and is sent to Volunteers during the third week of each month for the following month. The living allowance is reviewed once a year through a market survey to ensure that it is adequate. You may find that you receive more remuneration than your counterpart or supervisor.

You will also receive a vacation allowance of $24 (currently MAD 220) per month and a travel allowance to cover the cost of work-related trips (pre-approved work-related leave, official Peace Corps events, etc.). The current travel allowance policy is under review.

Most Volunteers find they can live comfortably in Morocco with these allowances. Volunteers are strongly discouraged from supplementing their income with money brought from home, as they are expected to live at the economic level of their neighbors and colleagues. Nevertheless, credit cards are handy for vacations and travel and can be used in several establishments in the larger cities. Traveler’s checks can be cashed for a small percentage fee. ATMs can be found at most major banks in large cities.

Food and Diet

A wide variety of fruits and vegetables are available year-round, and all meats except pork are readily available. Dairy products like yogurt and milk can usually be obtained. Although maintaining a vegetarian diet should not be difficult, you will be confronted with cultural issues when visiting Moroccan families, as they will offer you, and expect you to accept, traditional foods. Thus vegetarians need to be flexible about sharing the Moroccan diet when visiting friends and neighbors.

Fresh bread is widely available and is an important part of the Moroccan diet. Pastries are available in larger towns, and pasta is available in almost any small shop.

Mint tea is a Moroccan's favorite drink. It is traditionally very sweet and is served throughout the day. The numerous cafes in Morocco, which are mostly frequented by men, also serve coffee and fresh orange juice. Because Morocco is a Muslim country, beer and wine are not usually available in rural areas.

Transportation

Most Volunteers travel within the country in commercial buses or long-distance taxis (grand taxi). Local taxis (petit taxis) are available in all medium and large cities. If required for their work, Volunteers are issued bicycles with bicycle helmets. To reduce safety risks, Peace Corps/Morocco prohibits Volunteers from driving or riding on any two- or three-wheeled motorized vehicle (such as a motorcycle) for any reason. Nor are Volunteers allowed to own or drive private cars. Violation of these policies may result in termination of your Volunteer service.

Geography and Climate

Morocco is sometimes referred to as the cold country with the hot sun. The sun shines most of the year, but the cold can penetrate straight to your bones. The country has a varied geography, with beaches, mountains, desert, and agricultural land. The north tends to receive more rain than the south, so the majority of agriculture occurs in the north.

Moving southward, the landscape changes to desert, turning into the Sahara in the deep southeast. Morocco boasts a popular ski resort in the Atlas Mountains outside Marrakech, and on either side of the mountains are flat, hot, and dry plains. Summer is hot all over Morocco, with coastal areas experiencing greater relative humidity than inland areas.

Social Activities

Morocco is more tolerant than many other Muslim nations toward Western cultural norms. But while people in large cities tend to dress in Western clothing, those in rural communities are still very traditional. Most Volunteers live in small towns or rural settings and need to conform to local customs. Men have more external freedom than women do in that they can circulate freely outside the home. Cultural norms do not allow men and women to mix freely outside the home, and women tend to spend more time in the home, taking care of domestic affairs and socializing with other women. Moroccans are known for their hospitality, and you should expect invitations to dinner, weddings, and other social functions.

Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior

The people of Morocco take pride in their personal appearance. To gain their acceptance, respect, and confidence, it is essential that you dress and conduct yourself professionally. Dress standards for Volunteers are generally conservative. Women may wear pants with long-sleeved shirts for normal work-related activity, but are expected to wear long, casual skirts or dresses for more professional activities (e.g., meetings and/or workshops with Ministry representatives). Men are expected to wear long trousers for most activities.

Adhering to the conservative dress codes in Morocco is a test of your motivation and commitment to adapt to your new environment. If you have reservations about this, you should consider the amount of sacrifice and flexibility required to be successful and reevaluate your decision to become a Volunteer.

The Peace Corps expects Volunteers to behave in a way that will foster respect within their communities and reflect well on the Peace Corps and on the United States. You will receive an orientation to appropriate behavior and cultural sensitivity during pre-service training. As a Volunteer, you have the status of an invited guest, and thus you need to be sensitive to the habits, tastes, and taboos of your hosts.

Certain behaviors can jeopardize the Peace Corps’ mission in Morocco as well as your personal safety and thus cannot be tolerated by the Peace Corps. Engaging in these behaviors may lead to administrative separation, a decision by the Peace Corps to terminate your service. The Volunteer Handbook provides more information on the grounds for administrative separation.

Personal Safety

More information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is outlined in the Health Care and Safety chapter, but it is an important issue and cannot be overemphasized. As stated in the Volunteer Handbook, becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer entails certain safety risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment (often alone), having a limited understanding of local language and culture, and being perceived as wealthy are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Many Volunteers experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. Petty thefts and burglaries are not uncommon, and incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help Volunteers reduce their risks and enhance their safety and security. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.

Rewards and Frustrations

Although the potential for job satisfaction is quite high, like all Volunteers, you will encounter numerous frustrations. Because of financial or other challenges, collaborating agencies do not always provide the support promised. Moreover, the pace of work and life is slower than what most Americans are accustomed to, and some people you work with may be hesitant to change practices and traditions that are centuries old. For these reasons, the Peace Corps experience of adapting to a new culture and environment is often described as a series of emotional peaks and valleys.

You will be given a high degree of responsibility and independence in your work—perhaps more than in any other job you have had or will have. Often you will find yourself in situations that require an ability to motivate yourself and your co-workers with little guidance from supervisors. You might work for months without seeing any visible impact from, or without receiving feedback on, your work. Development is a slow process. Positive progress most often comes only after the combined efforts of several Volunteers over the course of many years. You must possess the self-confidence, patience, and vision to continue working toward long-term goals without seeing immediate results.

To overcome these difficulties, you will need maturity, flexibility, open-mindedness, and resourcefulness. The Peace Corps staff, your co-workers, and fellow Volunteers will support you during times of challenge as well as in moments of success. Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the peaks are well worth the difficult times, and most Volunteers leave Morocco feeling that they have gained much more than they sacrificed during their service. If you are able to make the commitment to integrate into your community and work hard, you will be a successful Volunteer.