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Decisions, decisions, decisions

In November, our family came to the realization that living in Morocco wasn’t working out for us and we were ready for the next move.  Of course that meant we had to know what the next move was.  Hmmmm………………

We bounced around a ton, and I do mean a ton, of possibilities.  We looked into the possibility of a foreign hire position in another country, thought about going back to the United States, thought about moving to another city in Morocco.  There were a lot of discussions and “discussions” and lists, and decisions, and then changing our decisions!  Let’s just say it’s been a long, complicated process.

In January, we thought we had it figured out, and we had a piece – we were going back to the United States.  At that point, we thought we were going to Oregon to settle down for awhile.  However, we soon realized that all of Raki’s school work had been done with the premise of getting a teacher’s certification from GA, so if he was to student teach in the US, then he had to student teach in GA. 

This opened up a ton of new decisions to make.  Student teaching is only one semester long – from August – December.  Should Raki go to GA while the boys and I were in OR?  Should we all go to GA for a school year?  And there were more things to consider:

– Where would the boys go to school?  How would we maintain the base in Arabic and French they have built over the last 3 years?  Will they have time to do this work after school?  Will they miss out on friends or activities, or begin to dislike Arabic and French if it is something “extra”?

– Would I be able to get a job?  The job market for teachers is tough right now.  If I do get a job, do I want to be public or private?  Where do I want to teach?  Where will I be able to find a job?

– Then again, did I want to get a job?  I am currently struggling to balance teaching, my teacher resource business and being a mom and wife.  What if I decided to stay at home and just focus on my business?  Can we afford that? 

– What would we do after Raki was done with student teaching?  Did we want to stay in GA?  Go to OR?  Try for an international position?

Another thing to consider became health issues.  I have recently had my second hernia surgery this school year.  My doctor is on me to exercise daily, and while I have added in ab exercise most mornings, there has been little to no time to add in the bicycling and swimming he wants me doing in order to prevent further hernias.  In addition, Raki has had chest pains and he doctor has recommended better exercise and time for rest – which hasn’t been easy to fit in between school, work and kids.

So, about a month ago, we finally made a few big decisions.  We haven’t got it all figured out yet, but here is what we have decided:

1.  I am not going to teach next year.  I will stay at home and work on my business, as well as home school the boys.  Since Sam can’t go to “school” in the US yet anyways, this saves us the cost of daycare and allows me to work full time on my business – Raki’s Rad Resources, and spend some real time each day exercising and meditating, and improving my overall health.

2.  Home schooling.  By home schooling the boys, they can spend equal time on English, French and Arabic, giving them the same amount of afternoon time off for friends and activities as if they were going to public school.  This way, they can maintain their language, and hopefully the love of these languages that they have formed, while still having time to be kids.  (Since the mass of homework they are doing now is one of the reasons we are finding Morocco disagreeable, the kids are excited to homeschooling.) 

3.  Raki will student teach in GA and we will be in GA with him for the duration of his student teaching.  We decided that separating our family was not a good idea for anyone, although he will return to the US a month early to take his certification test, but 4 weeks is a lot easier to bear than 24 weeks.

4.  The RV.  To reduce costs and make this more feasible, and to help us gain one of our other dreams, we will buy an RV (or convert a school bus into an RV) and use it as our place of residence.  This will also give us the opportunity to continue traveling – which is a family passion.  One possibility for life after Raki is done student teaching is to travel full time in our RV.

So, that is where we are at right now.  Raki will return to the US in June, the boys and I will return in July.  There are so many more decisions to make, but right now we are trying hard to take it one step at a time.  Raki is busily finishing up his Master’s work, packing up what little we are shipping, and selling all of the rest of our stuff.  I am recovering from hernia surgery and trying to balance my classroom and my business and my family for just a bit longer.

I will continue to blog about the experience here until July – and then you can expect to find a new blog-adventure to follow as we change continents and shift gears.

Okay, that was a lot of writing!  Here are a few pictures from our recent trip up north to Tetouan, Cueta and Chef Chouan as a treat for those of you who made it through it all. 

Cueta - light house - Spain in Morocco - Heidi Raki   Cueta - garden - Spain in Morocco - Heidi Raki

Cueta - statue - Spain in Morocco - Heidi Raki     Chef Chouan Morocco - Heidi Raki

Cueta - fortress - Spain in Morocco - Heidi Raki Cueta - the view from the top- Spain in Morocco - Heidi Raki     Chef Chouan Morocco - kasbah - Heidi Raki Chef Chouan Morocco - kasbah - Heidi Raki

Chef Chouan Morocco - kasbah - Heidi Raki Chef Chouan Morocco - kasbah - Heidi Raki    

 

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Another Move

This weekend, we made another move.  Luckily, this move wasn’t an international one, but still, it has been a “fun” week, trying to get packed, moved, unpacked, settled in, etc.  We moved from a half a villa in Oasis, Casablanca – pretty close to the downtown “centreville” area, out to Boskura – a small area on the outskirts of Casablanca.  It’s not very far – it only takes us 15 minutes tJourney to Morocco - Raki's Rad Resourceso get from one place to the other, but it feels like a word of difference.  It’s much more “rural” and so we see sheep and cows really close by.  Instead of just donkeys and horses in the street, it’s not strange to see some sheep or cows grazing on the side of the road.  There are beautiful farms to see on the drive between the two, and if you want to, you can grab a horse drawn taxi here as well.  (There are also grand taxis – large and white, but only go along one route, and we see blue petite taxis from Mohamadia and Rabat.  The petite taxis are red in Casablanca.) 

Most of the time, this is a really quiet area, although there are many people moving here to “escape the city” and so there is a lot of construction noises going on around us.  Down the road is a huge souk, which is only open on Tuesdays, but draws huge crowds.  We didn’t make it this week, but we hope to go next week.  I can’t wait to walk around!  On Friday, the two huge mosques fill up with people from all around.  People come to pray and to shop afterwards – as all of the fruit and vegetable vendors (and some other vendors too) will be sitting outside the mosque when prayer time is over.

Our new place has two bedrooms, a salon/dining area, a bathroom and a kitchen.  It’s not much smaller than the last place, although it doesn’t have a balcony.  We are on the ground floor, which is good and bad.  It’s good because the boys can take their bikes right outside to the garden area to ride and play with friends.  It’s bad because the laundry lines are 4 floors up, so when the washing machine is done, I have to walk up 4 floors to hang the clothes.  It’s okay, though, there is an elevator which should be working soon – in’challah!  (In’challah is Arabic for “If God Wills It”, but is often used in place of “hopefully”.)

Here are a few pictures of our new place – please excuse the boxes that are all over the place!  I’ll be back in a few days with pictures of the neighborhood.

Journey to Morocco - Raki's Rad Resources    Journey to Morocco - Raki's Rad Resources    Journey to Morocco - Raki's Rad Resources    Journey to Morocco - Raki's Rad Resources

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Posted by on July 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Living Among History

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Not long ago, we took a trip to Fes, one of the oldest cities in Morocco.  We walked around the medina, the 100_6989city walls, and an Islamic school that were all built around the year 825 A.D.  It was amazing to see, but the most amazing part was that there were people living right there in the middle of this amazing, historical place.  There were kids kicking a soccer ball, ladies shopping, men drinking coffee, just like every other city I’ve been to in Morocco. 

100_5206We don’t live in quite as historic of a setting, but we still live in a city where donkeys pull carts down the street, meat hangs outside of butcher shops and vegetables are sold by farmers more often than by supermarkets.  This type of setting is amazing for my children.  I love the fact that they can recognize city walls, they know that meat comes from cows (and sheep and chickens) and that everything and anything can be bought at the souk – including a live chicken that will not be live when you leave!  They know that the man saying “eeep” outside is looking for something to buy and the sound of a man calling “Allah Akbar” over a loud speaker means it is time for prayers.  Since we moved here, we have seen ruins and plazas and other amazing things that they wouldn’t have gotten to see otherwise.  Having this kind of background knowledge will be an asset for my children. 

 

Heidi Raki blog signature photo 

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Cultural Pictures in Morocco

A few weeks ago, I started taking Arabic lessons.  I go twice a week to learn Classical Arabic so I can help Kal with homework.  (Classical Arabic is not the language on the street here – Darija is.)  Since I know so very little Arabic, I am still very much at the point at a picture and repeat the word over and over stage.  Today I was looking at pictures of meal times, and I realized that the pictures showed traditional Moroccan meals, than if I showed to students in America, they may not recognize as breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It reminded me that what an image means to you is so very cultural!  I see it in my classroom all the time – my students look at a picture of something (say a bagel, or a bag of carrot sticks, or raccoon) and they have absolutely no idea what they are looking at. Or, they see a familiar event (breakfast or a party or a school bus) and it looks so completely different from what they know as that event (sausage and eggs for breakfast for example) that they don’t make the connection.

So,  here’s something fun for you – here are some pictures Kal and I use when we are learning Arabic. 

Can you tell which picture is a wedding? 

Can you tell which picture is an important holiday? 

Can you tell which picture is a Friday afternoon lunch? 

Can you tell which picture shows soldiers? 

Can you tell which picture shows a typical dinner meal?

Can you tell which picture is meant to show a farmer?

Can you tell which picture shows a mom making bread?

 

Picture A

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Picture B

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Picture C

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Picture D

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Picture E

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Picture F

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Picture G

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Heidi Raki blog signature photo 

 

Answers:

Can you tell which picture is a wedding? Picture B

Can you tell which picture is an important holiday? Picture D (Eid al Adha)

Can you tell which picture is a Friday afternoon lunch?  Picture G

Can you tell which picture shows soldiers?   Picture F

Can you tell which picture shows a typical dinner meal?  Picture A

Can you tell which picture is meant to show a farmer?  Picture E

Can you tell which picture shows a mom making bread?  Picture C

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Morocco and Language

Going to live in a country where English isn’t the first language is complicated.  Going to live in a country where there is no set first language is even more complicated!  And language in Morocco is extremely complicated!  Obviously English is not the first language of Morocco.  The first language for most residents of Morocco is Darija, a form of Arabic mixed with Spanish, French and Berber.  Many people speak French at home as well, especially in the upper classes.  In the rural areas, there are lots of people who speak Berber.  Language is a mixed handbag here – and it’s not uncommon to hear more than one language come from the same person in the course of of one conversation (or even one sentence!)

Even though Darija is the first language of Morocco, no one attends school in Darija.
Morocco Airport sign in different languages photoMost students (including Kal & Zaiyd) attend school in Classical Arabic and/or French.  Public schools teach a lot of Arabic and a little French.  Private schools teach about a 50/50 split.  Mission or French schools teach a lot of French and a little Arabic.  Then there are schools like mine, where students are taught in English all day, and receive a little French and a little Arabic.

Living in a society with this many languages going on is amazing to me.  I love how the people around me – including my students – can switch from one language to another almost seamlessly.  I learn so much from my students, including the importance of using their home language to help them understand certain concepts.  One way I use this in my classroom is to identify numbers in 4 languages during Calendar time.  We look at the “number of the day” in English, French, Arabic and Spanish (I have a student from Spain too!).  It has been a great way to talk about the “tens part” and the “ones part” of a number word.

Heidi Raki blog signature photo  

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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It’s been too long!

Wow, I bet you guys thought I fell off the face of the earth!  I promise you I haven’t.  I’m still here in Morocco, COLLABORATIVE BLOGSteaching and working hard at being a mommy!  I’ve also been working hard at my “business” – Raki’s Rad Resources.  I am running a blog called Raki’s Rad Resources, as well as blogging on 3 collaborative blogs – Simply Learning Centers, Classroom Freebies Too and Connect-a-Blog (where I write a Monday from Morocco post each week).  So, I have been blogging, just not here – lol!  Here is an update on what we’ve been up to, as well as a promise to blog on here at least once a week!!

  – Kal & Zaiyd are attending a Moroccan private school called Groupe Escolaire de Tournesol (Sunflower School).  100_7086They go to school in French for half of the day and Classical Arabic for the other half of the day.  In addition to learning French & Arabic, they are learning Darija – the Moroccan dialect of Arabic, as this is what they speak with their friends on the playground!  Both are doing well within their programs!  Kal is able to read and write in Arabic and French, and his speaking and understanding is coming along.  Zaiyd can recognize his letters, numbers and colors in Arabic and French and is just starting to speak and understand them.  Zaiyd is also learning to read in English at home – so he’s been a busy boy!

– Sam just turned one!  He is also starting to walk and loves to tear all the toys out of the box and throw them on 100_7132the floor!  He drives Halima, our nanny, crazy, but she loves him none the less and speaks to him in Darija all day long.  He understands words in both Darija and English, but he isn’t speaking at all himself, except to point at the food he wants and go ehhhh!

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– We have recently been to Fez, Meknes and Ifrane, which was all amazing and beautiful.  We took way too many pictures, slept in a hotel right next to the old Medina, and walked until our legs hurt – it was great!

– In January, we took a weekend trip to Seville, Spain.  We loved Spain so much!  After the 100_6485comedy of errors getting there (missing our rental car, paying for a taxi to the airport, getting charged for two cars, getting charged for an extra hotel room for Sam) we had 3 amazing days walking around and seeing all the sights.  We hope to go back to Spain, and possibly Portugal over the summer.

– Raki has decided not to do his residency, but has kept himself very busy teaching English, freelancing as a medical writer and helping me to run my Raki’s Rad Resources business.

– My school year is almost over.  It has been challenging, but I have grown so much as a teacher!  I am really enjoying teaching first grade and teaching students to read for the first time!  I will be teaching first grade again next year, and I’m looking forward to it.

 

That’s all for now, but I promise to try and check in weekly!

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Posted by on March 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Christmas in Morocco

Well, Sunday is Christmas, how’d that happen?   I guess I thought that perhaps celebrating Christmas in a country where there is effectively no Christmas would be slightly easier (you know, no sales to rush out to, no huge parties to attend), but I’ve found out it actually takes more time! One of the reasons it takes more time is that I have 3 small boys who still need Christmas, and I’ve been going out of my way to make sure that they still feel the “Christmas Spirit”. Here are 10 quick facts about Christmas in Morocco.

 

10 Facts about Christmas in Morocco

1. Morocco is a Muslim country, so Christmas is not an official (banks, stores closed) holiday in Morocco.

2. Morocco used to be a protectorate of France, so there are many people living in Morocco with French citizenship or French ancestry, including many (but not all) are French Catholics, who do celebrate Christmas.

3. Morocco is on the continent of Africa, and there are many people living in Morocco from “Sub-Saharan” African countries like Senegal, Congo and South Africa. Many (but not all) of these people are Christians and/or Catholics, who do celebrate Christmas.

4. Morocco also has a significant “expat” community from Europe and the United States, as well as the Phillipines. Many (but not all) of these expats celebrate Christmas.

5. Most Moroccans know Santa Clause by his French name – Pere Noel (literally – Father Christmas).

6. Even though the majority of Moroccans do not celebrate Christmas, you can find Christmas trees, lights, decorations and plenty of toys on sale at the big stores (Marjane, Alpha 55 and the Morocco Mall).

7. All of the American Schools, and many French Schools held Christmas Shows, Christmas Fairs etc. to celebrate the Christmas Holiday.

8. Many individuals held individual holiday dinners and holiday parties to celebrate the Christmas holiday.

9. The French and American schools are on break during the Christmas holiday (which means I’m out for 2 weeks!), but most of the Moroccan public and private schools are not (Which means my kids could’ve gone to school on Christmas – although thankfully Christmas falls on a Sunday.)

10. My family has been able to turn this holiday season into a great one, but choosing the holiday traditions we like best (making cookies, decorating the tree) and feel slightly separated from some of the commercialism we sometimes felt in the states.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

 
 
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