On Monday November 14th I informed the Peace Corps that I would be early terminating (ET) my service, I will not go into the details as to what brought me to make that no-turning-back phone call, lets just say it was the combination of many things that added up to "...Time for this one to come home". But I made the call without reservations, because I have felt all along in this process that had me moving to Africa to serve in the Peace Corps that if at anytime I felt the pull from home either externally or internally that I would go where I was needed more. If you read my musing here at all you know that I have many "philosophical" issues with the Peace Corps as an organization and the way it laid out (or lack of) the structure of the Small Business Development Program that I was assigned, along with the news last February that SBD program was being terminated and would not continue beyond 2012. When I sat back and weighed it all it became clear to me that after over 14 months living and serving in Morocco it was time for me to leave... so I did.
The six days between the minute I made the call and the time I touched down in Logan Airport was an exhausting period, much like leaving to come to Morocco, putting a cap on 14 months in a 5 day window is mentally tiring... between closing a life in my city of Sefrou, medical exams in Rabat and getting all the proper signatures to leave is crazy busy. Yet come Friday afternoon I was done and Saturday hopped a multi-leg flight to Boston and into the arms of my loved ones... exhausted but happy to be home. Now it is time to enjoy the holidays with family get reaquianted with America and look forward to 2012 and beyond.
The following is from my DOS (description of service) that I had to fill out for the Peace Coprs before they let me leave...haha.
During his service, James’s main responsibilities included:
Marketing and Graphic Design. Upon getting settled in Sefrou after swearing-in I quickly decide that my skills could be best used in Morocco by helping as many artisans around the country versus the Peace Corps’s simplistic view of working with just one artisan in my site. Upon meeting my “counterparts” and seeing that they had been the benefit of multiple PCVs over the last decade and well advanced in their business, I became very comfortable with the path I had chosen. Also at this time we began to learn that the Small Business Development Program was being terminated in Morocco which further feed my need to branch out of the antiquated model that the Peace Corps employs in the SBD program.
Below is a list of completed tasks within my first year as a PCV:
(January-April) Worked Marketing/Advertising for the Marché Maroc Fés Craft Show, working within a three person marketing team we redesigned the logo and branding of the Marché Maroc name. Marché Maroc Fés craft fair was the most successful one to date and I would like to think that bringing a more professional look to the branding played a small part. The Marketing team had grand plans to take the Marché Maroc to a much higher level while preparing HCN to take over leadership roles within the structure of the Craft Fair. But with the demise of the SBD program in Morocco the timeframe to accomplish handing over the craft fair to HNC was impossible and became pointless.
(February-March) Created a business card for the Coopérative Ismoune in Tighassaline.
April-June) Created a business card for the Coopérative Andaz Nouska in Midelt, redrew the coopérative’s logo to supply them with a high resolution file to be use for future marketing material. Created a tri-fold, full-color brochure for Coopérative Andaz Nouska.
(May) Design a logo for the Coopérative Charouk in .
(March-April) Designed a new logo, business card, and labels for the argan oil Association Dchers-Commune Sidi dahmane in Taroudant.
(May-June) Designed a logo for Tigmi Bags a Coopérative in Tigmijjou.
(June-July) Redesigned a product brochure for the Coopérative Adwal in Rabet El Khira.
(September) Designed a new logo and business cards for Coopérative Toudart Iwsta in Midelt.
Additional activities James participated in:
(March) Health: Created a medication form for illiterate patience, using icons along French and Arabic text. (The idea of a YD PCV)
(June) Created a product/sales tracking form for Marche Maroc, using icons and French. (Idea of two PCVs(SBD))
(February) Did some cartoons for a PCV for the handling and storage food around her village. Do not know the outcome of the illustrations.
(April and June) Drawing of city maps for both Marche Maroc cities (Fes and Essouria)
(June) Gave a presentation at IST along with a 2nd year PCV on Marketing and Design.
(Spring) One of the originators of the Marche Maroc Sustainability Committee, but soon decided to remove myself from this project. My reason for withdrawing from this committee was that I saw it as a complete dead end when upper levels of Peace Corps could not see the benefit and gave lackluster support for the sustainability of the Marche Maroc craft fairs.
(Summer) Working with English speakers in Sefrou to practice their language skills as there are very few English speakers in my city.
(February) Helped local artisan get a travel visa to America for her oldest son to accompany her to the Santa Fe Craft Fair.
Project/tasks started but not completed at this date:
I was asked my staff member to look over the ARM Art Resource Manual) that prior PCVs had created... to edit and re-layout the manual. I started this and got to a point where I was missing material and never had a chance to finish it.
(August -) Began creating a product catalog for Tigmi Bags a Coopérative in Tigmijjou, which could be the backbone of a website.
(October -) Started a product brochure for the Coopérative Toudart Iwsta in Midelt, but project has stalled due to artisan not supplying information.
(September -) Created a “beta” Wordpress website for the purpose of redesigning the current Wordpress website for the Coopérative Adwal in Rabet El Khira, but the holidays and lack of input form the coop has stalled this project.
The uncompleted project could still be completed by me from America if the PCV and I agree to continue or the PCV can complete the project themselves or with another PCV.
Not bad for a years worth of work... :) I removed the refernce to all the PCVs I worked in tandem on each project for this posting (to protect the innocent..haha). I have NO regrets about my joining the Peace Corps, my service in Maroc, or my decision to leaving early... life is too short to fret and too precious not to embrace every minute.
bslama Maroc.... hello America.