Friday, November 27, 2009

Little Update

Here is a slight update of our site.

Language has had it's good days and really bad days. I have found if I am tired that day I cannot speak hardly any Darija (Arabic). My mind just shuts down even if I know the words that are being spoken. Some days I feel like I am doing great and I am going to learn the language quickly. I am starting to finally string a few sentences together so that is encouraging. I have a host sister who is 9 years old and she has been a big help. She is my "usteda' or teacher and is teaching me a lot of stuff and challenging me with my language. She really enjoys it and really likes me too.

When it comes to my tutor, I found one but I do not think it is going to work out. He wants me to learn "fossa" or classical Arabic because the past volunteer wanted to learn that. I am not as advanced has he was starting out and he seems to be frustrated by that. He huffs if I do not say the word exactly right. I just want to communicate with the people and be understood. I will worry about perfection later. I told him all of this but he does not seem to care much. I am not worried about this because I have many contacts for tutors.

Our site is very big. Beggars really hit us hard every time we go out and it can sometimes be abrasive. I few times now beggars have grabbed me and asked for money and just stood in my face with their hand out. Sometimes stuff like that is hard to handle but it is get getting better daily. We now know most of the trouble spots in town and when we go out we try to avoid them. So it is all together not that bad just we are getting used to everything.

Our counterparts here in country are helpful. I honestly have not had much time to do my job yet because we have been running around doing things like Carte de Jour and finding a place to live. On the plus side of this it seems that we have maybe found a place to live. It looks nice and is much bigger than our apartment back in the states. It is in a safe area and we have great connections with a mechanics shop down the road. They all said they would look after us. The place even has a western style toilet. No squatting for us. This is about all I have time for now so I will update more when I have the chance.

Happy Eid Kaber

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

First Three Weeks

Hey! We are in Morocco! We got here three weeks ago and are doing language training with a group of four other people in a small town. We are living with a Moroccan family too! We have like a month and a half of training left and then we are sent to our final place, but we don't know where that is yet. We will most likely end up working in youth centers in a bigger city. So we will basically teach english and create activities and clubs for local youth, and do camps. I'm actually at a cyber cafe right now typing on a french keyboard. fun stuff!

We are living with an awesome Moroccan family (mom, dad, a brother and two sisters). It's really starting to feel more like a home now that we have been here for more than a week. I get to help cook the meals and clean around the house Moroccan style! I've even gotten to hand wash my clothes :-) I have been a little sick though, but it's mostly just that they eat so much really tasty food all the time. we have like at least five meals a day, but I've learned to only eat so much at each meal. The beds are really different here, they double as couches during the day. they are called 'ponges'. It's been really awesome learning the language and the culture we have classes every day for about 8 hours with meal breaks of course :-) We are learning a lot!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Hello Friends and Family,

Just wanted everyone know that we made it to Morocco! Tanie and I are still really sore and jet lagged from the flight and travel. It has been good so far. We are right next to the ocean and it is very nice outside. We have been getting to know our fellow Peace Corps Volunteers and most of them are great!

Over the next few days we have a pretty tight shift and we have lots of training to do. Right now I am sitting in the lobby and I hear a boy speaking arabic and having a great time. I hear the ocean crashing against the shore. I like this feeling of really not knowing what could come next.

I hope to post a few videos soon. So I hope to keep you updated whenever I can.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Updated Peace Corps Timeline

Updated Peace Corps Timeline

Early July – My wife and I spoke about maybe joining the Peace Corps.

Next Day – Started the application and talked to our recruiter for the first time. Tells us we can have an interview that weekend if we get all the paperwork in time.

July 12th – We both got all our paperwork in and had our interview. He told us that he could not nominate us yet because we were a married couple and he will have to check a few program areas and get back to us.

Sept. 16th – After a long wait we got a nomination in the mail for Youth Development and English Teaching.

Sept. 18th – Received our medical packet. Now the hard part starts.

Jan. 2nd – Dental Clearance – That was pretty easy.

Jan. 26th – Received a letter requesting more information and paperwork I did not seem to include :)

Feb. 13th – Received medical clearance! What a huge relief! I really did not know if we would get past this part. This seems to be where they are the most picky when it comes to invite after all the normal requirements.

Feb. 18th – Received an email from my Placement Officer asking if we can send things like our updated resume and a copy of our final transcript from college.

June 5th - Received our invitation packet and we are officially invited to serve in Morocco. Both of us Teaching English and working in Youth Development.

In this time they asked us to send additional information and update resumes. There is all kinds of questionares they have us fill out so they know our personalities better. This helps the Peace Corps with Training.

Sept. 8th - Staging at Philly.

Sept. 10th - Flying to Morocco!

Packing List

Hello Internet,

It is becoming closer and closer to September. This is really a scary thought but also very exciting. On Tuesday of this week we reserved a moving truck this was the first time that it really hit me hard that we were leaving the states. I had a strange reaction of nostalgia, greed or something else. I like the states most of the time. We have everything we need and want and for that we are blessed. The truth is I am going to miss Fort Wayne. I am ready for a change but to leave our first apartment and hometown it will be hard to leave. There are so many great people we will leave behind. We are also excited to make new ones too.

I have complied a list of just about everything we will be taking to Morocco. This list is only for me (Matt). We can bring up to 80 pounds because of airline restrictions. All of my stuff comes out to be about 60 pounds so I can bring a little more luxury items. That makes it nice :)

Matt’s Complete Packing List

Backpacking Pack (Check)
Duffle bag (Carry on)
Backpack (Carry on)

T-shirts (5x)
Polo (1x)
Dress Shirt (1x)
Dress Pants (1x)
Underwear (8x)
Socks (8x)
Dress Socks (1x)
Thick Socks (1x)
White T-shirts (4x)
Jeans (2x)
Shoes (Chuck Taylors)
Sandals (Chaco’s)
Dress Shoes
Long Sleeved Shirt (1x)
Zip Hoody (1x)
Hiking Pants (1x)
Swimsuit (1x)
Belts (2x)
Rain Jacket
Thermal Shirt
Under armor

Laptop (Netbook)
Laptop Charger
Laptop Case
PSP System
PSP Charger
PSP Games
Portable Hard Drive (500 GB)
Hard Drive Case
IPod Classic (120 GB)
IPod Charger
USB Stick (8 GB)
Flip Camera (120 Mins)
Digital Camera
Camera Case
Camera Memory Stick (512MB)
USB Cable
Battery Charger
Voltage Converter
Rechargeable Batteries
8x AA
4x AAA
Headphones (2x)
Power Adaptor Plugs (3x)
Travel Speakers

Personal Care
Deodorant (3x)
Face Wash
Toothbrushes (3x)
Floss (3x)
Camp Towels
Allergy Meds
Motion Sickness Meds (2x)
Glasses (2x)
Contacts (6 boxes)
Contact Solution
Contacts Case
Hair Stuff
Body Wash
Razors Mach 3 (x3)
Electric Shaver

Gerber Multi-tool
Knife Sharpener
Duct Tape
Box of Pens
Zip Lock Bags (Gallon)
Tupperware (2x)
Money Belt
Sleeping Bag
Travel Pillow
Index Cards
Carabiners (2x)
Travel Locks (2x)

NIV Slimline Bible
Moleskin Notebook
Lonely Planet Morocco Guide
Photo Album
Pocket Dictionary
Pocket Thesaurus
Five Star 2 Subject Notebook
Small 2 Year Planner

Friday, August 14, 2009


Hey everyone! Now that we are down to two weeks left in our apartment we have been packing like crazy! We have boxes spread out all over the place and piles of stuff. It's nice to be getting rid of a lot of stuff that we don't really need. We like to simplify our lives. It's amazing how much junk we have accumulated in our 1.5 years of marriage. It looks like we will be able to sell Matt's car soon too so that is exciting! Check out our youtube account we put up a video about packing awhile ago. :-) Oh and I'm not sure if we mentioned it but Matt cut his hair off!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Learning the Language

Hey everyone!
Matt and I have begun to learn Moroccan Arabic from some language tools that the Peace Corps gave us. I made a little video that shows what I have learned so far.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Looking Forward

Hello people. It has been a while since either of us have updated. So we though we should bring you up to date!

As of late we have started to think about our last days here in the states. We have taken a few boxes down to my hometown. Mostly just books that we don't plan to read any time soon. We also plan to put my car up for sale really soon. We have also been selling random little things around the apartment that we probably wouldn't use in two years time. We also finished up all of the paperwork that came in our invitation packet. We finished it quite awhile ago actually. So we are excited about getting government passports and are now waiting for our staging materials to arrive in about one month. Tomorrow is exactly 2 months until our projected departure date!

We are very excited to be able to start our lives over again and sort of improve upon ourselves. I believe the Peace Corps will help us with understanding ourselves and also the continual process of changing. I know with the way I am that if you look at pictures it seems like I change the way I look about every 6 months or so. Well my looks will soon be changing again. I am going to cut my hair off. I corresponded with a peace corps official in Morocco and he informed me that my long hair would most likely cause a silently negative reaction, so off it goes. I want to live my life in a way that helps me to truly understand the world that we live in rather than living in the same place, doing the sames things for my whole life.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Peace Corps Duties

Come to find out that teaching basic English is a part of the youth development program but it is not everything that we do. I am not really sure with the in's and out's of it all but I know we will be working in youth centers. We work in organized activities likes sports, arts, gender development, cultural exchange, and camps etc. All that is really vague to say when we get there we will find out when we get there. They have to assess our progress of everything really see how we are catching on to the culture and language to see where we will finally end up in country. After we find out our location then we have to assess the community and see in what ways we can help. Some things, like teaching English, are set in stone already but the other projects we have to start and develop maybe from scratch.

We have no clue in country where we will be but it seems it will probably be is a large town like Casablanca or Rabat. But who knows we could end up with the Berber people who are the farmer, lower classed types in Morocco. Either way we do not really care. We are just looking for a great experience.

It has been like a breath of fresh air since we got our invitation. I have not even updated our blog since because I have just been tired and trying to figure out what we do now. We have so much stuff to do and still have work responsibilities here to worry about. We would really like to have a going away party sometime in August. So we can explain to people what we are doing. We will see though.

We are hoping to do a video blog of sorts. We are going to buy a small portable camera called a Flip. It is very small and you can use it for up to 2 hours of recording at a time. Then you can put it on our computer.

I will write more soon. I have a ton to catch up on.


Friday, June 5, 2009

We Got Our Invitation!!

SO we got our invitation in the mail today and we have also begun our video blogging for our Peace Corps service, since it's official now.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Waiting on the Invitation Packet

Hello World,

I just wanted to update you a little. Have not received our invitation packet yet. It has only been two days now but I was under the impression that they overnight it, I guess not. I suspect that we will get it within this week. FedEx is the company that they are shipping through. I have always had bad luck with them. The last thing I got online it took a couple of weeks to get. I hope it does not take that long.

Waiting, the story of my life. Will update my you guys as soon as I hear something.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Official Invites!

It is official we are now invites to be Peace Corps volunteers woke up with this message saying that we have been invited. We should still be going to Morocco but who knows. We should get the paperwork sometime in the next couple of days yo find out for sure. I suspect that they should call us today for further correspondence. This is very exciting and I cannot believe that we are finally invited! It has been a long road but one that I think should pay off. Now more waiting till Sept: Departure!

I will blog more when I have more information.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

More Waiting...

This is the current email that I have received from my placement officer. This only means more waiting! It has been a week so I suspect it to be another 3 weeks till we hear anything else about placement. This has been a long and frustrating process. It would be nice to have a final word soon. Oh well. Here is the email:

Dear Matt,

Thanks for checking in. As we discussed last week, before inviting any married couple to any program world-wide, we must email the Country Director and Programming Officer in country “X” and provide them with a summary of your respective experiences and background. They’ll review that information, confirm whether they have a community that has requested your skills, and offer the necessary pre-approval to invite you or deny the request for some practical reason.

We sent that request last Friday and just haven’t received a response yet. As soon as I receive a response from them, I’ll let you know. We generally tell applicants that it can take 2-4 weeks to get a response and this particular Post tends to fall in that timeframe.

With Thanks,

Friday, May 15, 2009

And The Country Is....

Ready for the latest. It is not definite but we should know by next week when we get an official invite to this country. I know the country though...are you ready...It looks like we are going to Morocco!! That is in North Africa! Africa!! They said that our departure date is September 7th. Oh my goodness... This is exciting yet scary at the same time. Now we are just waiting on the country to see if they want us for sure but they said that it rarely happens that they would not.

Normally people have no clue where they are going but I have figured it out for sure. Our Placement officer said that it would be North Africa. There is only one country that the Peace Corps serves and that is Morocco. And just to make sure I wanted to match up the departure date he told me with the one on the website and it matched up perfect! September 7th! Now we have to wait a little more but it is almost absolute now. It looks like we are going to be Peace Corps Volunteers!


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Placement Clearance

This is super exciting! Just got an update from our Peace Corps Status saying that placement has cleared us officially. There is nothing else to do but just sit back and wait for the phone call tomorrow. I think we have about a 75% chance of getting placed but we will see. Yikes! This is scary! It all comes down to this.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Little Closer to Placement....

I talked to the Peace Corps today and he sounded very positive about finding us a place to serve. He is going to get back to us on Friday!!! We just cleared up a couple of questions that they had about our application. Things like what do our parents think and did we know that if we got pregnant that we would have to end our service. Our Placement Officer said we have been cleared with Placement we now it is the next step: Placement!!! We should know where we go, when we go, or if we go on Friday! We will keep everyone informed of the situation if we are to learn anything more.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Delayed till....?

Just got some news from the Peace Corps Placement Office. I found out that we will not be leaving in July...The place that they were looking at placing us (my guess Cambodia) does not allow the restrictions that both of us have. I am a little down but he said that there might still be something on the table but it wouldn't be till August through October. He said that he would call me before Friday and talk to me about more information! At least I have some news that I can report instead of saying I don't know what's going on. Hopefully I can report a little more on Friday or Saturday. All I can think through this whole process is that if we are not invited, then what?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Nothing and More Nothing!

Nothing! That’s what I have got. No news! I understand that these people are busy but I find it very rude when they say they will get back to you next week and never email you back. This like I said, really in my last post, this is to be expected from a government agency. This isn’t little news either. This next piece of information really could change the outcome of the next several years of our lives. Yes or no either way things need to change but everything is pending on this decision. I think we are both ready for a change. I am just hoping that this wait isn’t because of a medical restriction either of has or they are having a hard time placing us. At this point the Peace Corps being busy or lazy might be the best thing!

Tanie will be walking in her graduation on the 9th of May. This also means that my parents are coming up along with my sister and my brother-in-law! This will be really nice refresher that I will be thinking about this all weekend while I am working the graveyard shift. Also my birthday is on the 8th. All I want is… news from the Peace Corps. Maybe they are holding off on the news to surprise me! Yeah right…. Man I am just crawling with pessimism.

Happy May! The best month of the year!


Friday, April 24, 2009

Waiting Games and Rollerblades

I have an update when it comes to the Peace Corps. Yesterday I emailed the assistant placement officer that is working on my file and I asked him if there is any information that he can give me on if we have a chance of getting into a program in the Peace Corps. I know I have until June 1st till they have to tell me something about the program but still it has been a few months since they have received my file. I got a response back that said this:

"I looked into your program and saw that we have until early-June to invite people from that pool. I imagine that is why you haven’t heard more from my office by now. I talked to your Placement Officer about your file and he said that he would contact you within the next week to give you an update on the progress of your applications. He will be able to give you more information that will help with your planning."

This is still super great news though because I will hear something next week. Well at least I think I will hear something. Such a roller coaster ride so far. I have been so disheartened as of late and it is good to know I might hear something soon.
On a side note: I bought some inline skates. I did pretty well for my first outing. I only fell once but it was down a hill in front of a woman and she was like freaking out because I fell a little hard or at least it looked that way. I popped back up embarrassed and said something like, “I fell because I looked back and saw a car was coming and it scared me.” I sounded like a 10 year old child that had his heart broken. Really the only thing that came out of that was a scraped up knee. I expected something worse but I was wearing jeans.

Thanks for reading. I will update you about the news that I might get next week. We will see but it seems too good to be true right now. :(

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Slow Movement

Hello my fellow blog readers!

It has been a little while. I just wanted to update you on our lives and our Peace Corps process. First, there has not been news when it comes to the Peace Corps. Not a scrap of news. I am not really surprised about this though. I still figure that we will not here anything from them about placement till May. Tanie and I have a bet going to land the closest to this date, mine guess is May 4th. I believe that she guessed May 14th. I hope I am closer.

The nervousness and angst has kind of subsided for the time being. After waiting for almost a month now you realize that it is kind of out your control. I wish there was something at this point to speed the process up a little. I mean we both have jobs and we have to say something to our places of employment. My boss already has heard about our intentions of going into the Peace Corps. Facebook was the mode of how he learned. I am sure of it.

As of now I still have a job but things are getting worse and worse when it comes to business (at least that’s the way it seems from an outward perspective). We have had more layoffs and they are completely shutting down for the Easter weekend. That is my whole work week because as of now I am working 3rds weekends 12 hour shifts. The reason why this is a big deal is because we hardly ever shut down for anything. But because of slow economic times we are forced to shut down because of it. Oh well more free time with Tanie :)

With Tanie there have been a few developments. She is currently working with a daycare for the time being. She has been watching kindergarten kids. She has been stretched and I am proud of her. She is working around 30 hours a week and this is the first time that she has really worked around the same kids for so long. She has finally got burned out when it comes to books. She has read many books since she is done with school. I would say close to 50. She is an inspiration to those of us that have trouble with getting one book done in a week.

We will let you know about any developments when it comes to our lives or the Peace Corps.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Little Closer and a Readers Question

We got the needed information to complete our file! All we need is to here from the Placement Office too see where we are going. Here are the email's received from our Assistant Placement Officer.

Dear Matt,
"I received the reference from _____________ earlier today. I’ve added it to your file, so it is complete for now, though you may hear more from my office as the departure date for your program becomes closer."

Dear Tanie,
"Thank you for the new essay. Your file is complete now and I have passed it on to your Placement Officer for the final review. You will hear more from my office as the date of departure for your program becomes closer."

Also there has been a question from one of our readers: "Once you receive medical clearance are you under the impression it is basically a sure thing that you'll be placed?"

This is a great question and something I have asked many times on different Peace Corps blogs and the answer is no. I know that's probably not the answer that everyone wants to hear. There are several reasons why there are no guarantees. First with the economic downfall there has been a ton of people trying to getting into the Peace Corps. For what have heard from second hand information is that placement is very competitive now. The only thing I can suggest is to put in an application and try your chances. Since the Peace Corps is a job, you have to treat it like one. You have to have a completed four year degree and experience in the field you desire. Volunteer experience is very valuable as well and it is needed to show that you are commited to working with people and volunteering.

If you want more information you can check the Yahoo group peacecorps2. That is the best site that I have seen yet when it comes to questions about the Peace Corps. Other than that thanks for the question and good luck on your process!


Monday, March 9, 2009

Needed More Information

Tanie and I both got an email from our Assistant Placement officer today. He needed Tanie to rewrite a Cross-cultural experience essay. He said that it did not answer the question that they were asking. For me I did not have a friend reference. So I asked a friend to complete this as soon as possible.

This is really good though because it hasn't only been a few days and they are already looking at our files. I was not expecting to hear anything for another couple of months. Hopefully this means that after we get this stuff done that they can place us.

Waiting is hard.


Friday, March 6, 2009

Placement Office

Today I spoke to our Student Aide of a Placement Officer. She was very polite and told me that our last date to hear something about our placement would be June 1st. It has need officially three weeks from when we got medical clearance. She told me that it might take as long as June 1st to place us but since we have everything already in and it is being checked over she didn't expect it to take longer than a couple of months. WOW! A couple of months seems like forever! Well at least it does being in this waiting period. I am trying to patient the best I can but this waiting is very very difficult. I will update you as soon as we hear anything about where we are going.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Still Waiting...

It has been exactly two weeks from when we have received medical clearance from the Peace Corps. To me this has been the worst part of the waiting. Two weeks has been forever because everything hangs in the balance. Where we would be going is the least of my worry at this point. I know for a fact that because of this economic down fall there has been an influx of applications to the Peace Corps.

According to blogs and other articles from a lot of places right now if you put in an application then you can expect to wait 16 months before you might get placed. This is a four month change from 12 which we the number told in September of 08’. Everyone is looking at something they can do now that jobs are very hard to find and people do not know what to do with their lives. I can understand this. I am now wondering if our original estimation is off and instead of June or July it is now November or later.

This would be okay but I would just like to know what it is we are supposed to do till then? I guess the only thing we can do is wait. Tanie has a better attitude then I do. She is confident in our placement and she expects it to happen soon. I am glad for her because sometimes I think if I didn’t have her as a wife my life would be a giant storm of worry at this point.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Peace Corps Timeline

Down below this post is our Peace Corps timeline. It is obliviously not completed placement pending. This process I understand takes several months longer for a married couple for reasons that make sense. Things like instead of one person going through this process, now there are two. Two people with a medical history, dental history, legal history and whatever else they want to know. This process is not for those who do not have patience. The good Lord knows I almost freaked out because of the wait (again still pending).


Peace Corps Timeline

Early July – My wife and I spoke about maybe joining the Peace Corps.

Next Day – Started the application and talked to our recruiter for the first time. Tells us we can have an interview that weekend if we get all the paperwork in time.

July 12th – We both got all our paperwork in and had our interview. He told us that he could not nominate us yet because we were a married couple and he will have to check a few program areas and get back to us.

Sept. 16th – After a long wait we got a nomination in the mail for Youth Development and English Teaching.

Sept. 18th – Received our medical packet. Now the hard part starts.

Jan. 2nd – Dental Clearance – That was pretty easy.

Jan. 26th – Received a letter requesting more information and paperwork I did not seem to include :)

Feb. 13th – Received medical clearance! What a huge relief! I really did not know if we would get past this part.

Feb 18th – Received an email from my Placement Officer asking if we can send things like our updated resume and a copy of our final transcript from college.

Current - Now we are waiting for Invitation!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Medical Clearance

I got an email from the Peace Corps on Saturday saying, "A decision has been reached regarding your medical review. Please look for a letter in the mail." I was feeling so nervous about this because I knew this meant either medical clearance or rejection.

Today it is Tuesday and we got the letter! We both got medical clearance!! This is the biggest news yet when it comes to Peace Corps process! This means that we are on the last step: Placement!!! Now it is the waiting game. This could take a week or a month or several. I have been reading other peoples blogs and they get placed around one to three months. That seems like a long time but they have to make sure of a lot of things before the send you overseas. Things like making sure our skill-set matches up to the country they might place us. We are both so stoked!


Monday, January 19, 2009

Paperwork has been submitted!

This is Tanie typing.

I have finally come to the end of my Peace Corps medical paperwork journey and have mailed out every last piece. So my papers are now in transit to Washington D.C. to be looked over by "the government". Hopefully they will declare me medically clear along with my husband.

After that comes more waiting of course. The Peace Corps process is a lot like going to the airport; you rush to get there and then wait. Well, Matt and I rushed to fill out the application, have the interview and fill out some more papers (all of this done in two weeks) then we waited for months to hear anything. Finally we were nominated to Asia! Then we rushed to finish all of our medical papers and now we wait again. How long? No one can be sure. But the next step will be the invitation to a specific job in a specific city in a specific country.

It is an exciting and angst filled journey but we are very happy to be at this point.

We will keep you updated on when we are cleared by the government for different areas.
Thanks for reading!