Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Back to Africa!!

Taken during a previous trip to Morocco, April 2008
Question: What do Marcus Garvey and I have in common?

Dearest friends and family,

After a year-long hiatus in the United States, I am again returning to Africa. Of course, we all knew that I couldn't stay away for too long, right?

Since my last post, upon my return to the US after a year in Senegal, much has happened. I finished my last year at the University of Wisconsin and graduated (alhamdoulilah!) with degrees in Political Science, International Studies, and Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies. Now what is someone with liberal arts degrees like those supposed to do in an economy like this?
...Leave, of course!

I ended up getting a Fulbright grant to do research in Morocco for this next year. Fulbright is basically a scholarship offered through the US State Department to allow scholars to do research or teach abroad, with the intended goal of increasing diplomatic relations and understanding between our nation and theirs. A (very) long story short, I will be spending 4 months studying Arabic intensively in the city of Fez, then moving to the capitol city of Rabat in January to begin an independent research project. I will write (many) separate posts about my research project, but in short, I will be researching Morocco's Truth and Reconcilation Commission. This will be done via archival research and personal interviews with Moroccans.

Besides research, other goals for my stay in the Maghreb include (but are not limited to):
-brushing up my French
-becoming comfortable with Arabic
-learning how Truth Commissions work within Arab/Muslim contexts
-learning how to cook, Moroccan-style
-surfing more on the coast
-gaining some clarity as to what I want to do post-Fulbright
-Becoming comfortable with life in Morocco, familiar with the country and culture
-making friends/community, and being a good friend

I'll be documenting this journey in this blog, which I hope you will all check regularly! It will be nothing special, just my random thoughts, musings, and occasional photos of my travels. I'm sure I will be making comparisons often with my travels in West/Sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere. I wont be emailing you every time I write an entry, so please save the URL in your favorites- how special that would make me feel! Also, feel free to comment.

Most importantly- please write to me! Until I get my own apartment in January, my mailing address will be at the Moroccan-American Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange (MACECE). Only flat letters can be mailed to this address, however, no packages:

Catherine Skroch
C/O Cultural Affairs Officer
Box 21
APO AE 09718

Once I get my cell phone established, I will give you all the number.
I can most easily be reached on:
Skype: c.skroch
Yahoo Chat: catherineskroch
or email: cskroch@gmail.com

So, as I prepare to leave on Sunday, September 6, I am busy packing, saying endless "see ya later-s!", and trying to decide just how many bottles of sunscreen to take, please know that you are all in my thoughts. I know that this is going to be an enormous, transformative year for all of us. Please keep me updated about your life and be patient if I dont reply right away. Remember that you're loved, no matter the distance or time between us.

Answer: Marcus Garvey and I both wanted to go back to Africa. Let the adventure begin!

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