Thursday, January 28, 2010


    I recently enjoyed a personal triumph of sorts. After spending the last ten months in site wrangling and finagling with the people of my site and the staff of Peace Corps I finally pushed a very important project through the bureaucracy that is the federal government. Somehow we managed to retain the essence of my community's dreams while satisfying the requirements of the Peace Corps Partnership Program.

    This program allows the people of communities in which American volunteers serve to share their dreams with Americans. The exchange is that the proud people of our sites admit publicly to the world that we can't do it alone. We recognize that we are part of something larger than ourselves, and that we cannot accomplish great things without everyone's participation. We recognize that, while we may be building sustainability, exchanging cultures, and knowledge, the one thing we are doing above all else is building relationships. These are relationships built on trust, compassion, and faith in the basic goodness of all people. Sometimes these relationships are also built out of brick and mortar.

    The amazing people in my site have shared their lives with me, an outsider. They have welcomed me with open arms, and they have done all this with the belief that I will repay their kindness with my knowledge, skills, and my connections to resources they couldn't access on their own. They believe, perhaps correctly, that I can enrich their lives if they let me.

    It's not easy for them to do this. This is a very hospital culture, but not one that has been gently used by history. Countless cultures have come knocking on their doorstep looking to take their land, their identity, and their livelihood. I've heard people in this country accuse the Amazigh, the people I live with, of racism. I've heard them ridiculed as backwards, closed, and obstinate people. It is said that they are unwilling to change, unwilling to advance themselves, and unwilling to cooperate for the betterment of their country. I am here to tell you this is not true. A family, whose average level of education is somewhere around 5th grade, welcomed me into their home. They opened their house to me, a stranger, a non-believer, and (maybe most dubious of all) a young unmarried man.

    I feel honored by their trust, and yours. I represent you all, whether you like it or not, to the people of Morocco and more specifically to the people in my site. I am trying to make their experience of Americans a good one, and they are trying to show me who they truly are in the same way. It's a tentative exchange sometimes, but mostly it's been good. Day by day we have worked with and for each other. I've learned their language and they've learned to accept my strange habits. I've listened to their hopes and dreams, and they've listened to me try to frame a way they could make them a reality. I trusted them, and they've trusted me.


    The URL above is where you will find the project my association and I have poured blood, sweat, and tears into for the last ten months. This URL represents our faith in you; my friends, family, and readers. We are asking you, in these difficult economic times, to look into your pocket to see if you can't spare a little change. I told my community that the people of America are generous, despite what it says on the news. I told them that if I am willing to give two years of my life to them, surely you would give them some of the money they need to ensure a better future for their children. I told them that my people will help them if they ask with open hearts. I told them that if they are open to you, strangers, outsiders, and non-believers, then you will be open to their need.

    I wouldn't ask you, my readers, for your help if we didn't actually need it. You can trust me on that. Today I am asking you, please, to prove that I was telling the truth. Read over the proposal that I have written at the behest of the people who have taken me in. If it seems like a worthy project to you, then give a little bit of what you have to my Moroccan friends and family. We are counting on you to help us make this dream a reality. I believe that this project is worth whatever you have to contribute. If you agree with me tell your friends and family. Spread the word and the URL. We would really appreciate it. Thank you for your generosity, believe me when I say that I few dollars will be building more than irrigation canals. It will build friendships with people who deserve it, and who, if you should find yourself in the neighborhood, will gladly give what they have back to you. Once again, I thank you in advance for whatever you have to give.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy birthday kiddo…

    Twenty two years ago on December the 18th a minor miracle occurred. This miracle was slimy and kind of weird, and it was really loud. Unlike most miracles of this kind this miracle was blue, which was a cause of some concern to those who witnessed it. This miracle, like most miracles, was the culmination of a lot of disparate events and a lot of time and effort. This miracle was duly noted and registered and then it was named Leslie. This miracle is my little sister.

    At the time of this post her birthday will have passed, and unfortunately I will have been unable to contact her to wish her a happy birthday. However, what I can do is write a tribute to her on this here blog and hope that she reads it, with the help of a facebook message, someday. So here it is, my little sister Leslie:


    When she was a kid we called Leslie the fireball, or the princess (my Dad called her queeny), and so she was. All throughout her childhood she had this attitude that could be accurately described as regal. She made moves too. Every minute of every day she was up to something, making something, playing, and, all too often, thinking of ways to get me in trouble. She succeeded more often than not. She was a cute kid.

    In Middle School Leslie pursued a few different passions. One of my favorite short lived passions was her soft ball kick. One summer she decided that she needed to get good at softball so she could tryout the next school year and kick some ass. So almost every day she would hassle me and hassle me and hassle me until I agreed to help her out. We would go out into the front yard and play catch and she would practice pitching to me and I would hit the balls softly so she could field them. Then one day I hit one hard, a line drive right to her kneecap. She collapsed to the ground and said some things about me that I won't put on this blog, but we got her inside and gave her some ice and ibuprofen for the swelling and the pain. Then, what do you know, the very next day she gimped her little self out into the front yard and made me play catch with her so she wouldn't fall behind in her training.

    Leslie loved our trampoline as a kid and she would use it to play out in the backyard with her friends as they practiced their round-offs, back handsprings, and front flips. She was pretty good at gymnastics, but she got tired of cheerleading pretty fast. This whole time she thought I was just some weird dude she had to live with and occasionally ask for rides to school. However, it might surprise her to note that despite our constant fighting and competition over which of us was the smartest (she's really freaking smart too) I was proud of the young woman she was becoming.

    You see my sister, like me in some respect, has very little tolerance for BS. She cares deeply for her friends, and boyfriends, but when they act like idiots, hurt her/themselves/each other, or generally show little regard for her she cries her tears and moves on. I remember that when she was young and dating middle school dudes she seemed to go through them like socks. I understand now that she simply had too much self respect and taste to put up with their silliness.

Just about the time I moved on to college and Asheville, she moved on to high school. I know that the first couple of years were tough for her because of me. You see, the last two years I attended Orange High School I had bright blue hair, and I was a well known (and I like to think well liked) personality in the halls. My teachers and coaches, many of whom my little sister had too, remembered me and called my poor sister "little blue" (I was big blue) because of it. She hated being little blue. She wanted to be her own person.

Soon enough she was. She was infuriating the same teachers I had by cutting up in class and making straight A's, she was driving my cross country/track coach crazy by making it clear she didn't feel like working hard to maximize the talent she had. That's another thing about my little sister and I; I was the one that worked really hard to be good at sports and never quite made it. She was the one with all the talent who didn't work all that hard, but started varsity anyway. She helped start and maintain the women's tennis team and was something of a tennis star. I was secretly jealous.

When it came time for her to choose a University she bucked all of us (except perhaps my step-Dad). I wanted her to go to a super liberal tiny little hippy school like I did. My mom wanted her to go to a great school, but I suspect she leans towards the small liberal artsy end of things like me. My father had a secret dream that she would end up going to Duke, his alma mater. She chose Duke's arch enemy the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. That's where my step-Dad went, and I think that he got a kick out of that, but she made it quite clear to all of us that she was going there because that's where she wanted to go. Sure enough, she's thrived there.

Initially she was shooting for an accounting degree of some sort, but she got bored with that and is now going for pre-Med. That's the way my sister is. She's driven, disciplined, and she shoots for the moon. She doesn't brag or show off that much, but she knows she's got skills and she uses them to get what she wants. She's not interested in what others want for her she goes after what she wants. She doesn't shy away from speaking her mind, and cutting loose when she wants to.

So, from about 4,000 miles away, in a completely different world it seems, here's to my little sister. Here's to the fireball, the princess, the queeny herself, and the soon to be UNC graduate. Leslie, you're a total bad-ass and you know it girl. You take what you want without being a jerk. You're smart, talented, compassionate, fun, and beautiful. You're going to have a great life full of wonderful friends and wonderful experiences, and no one can stop you. You demand respect from all of us, and you get it. I can't tell you how much it kills me to miss your birthday (again), but know this, kiddo, I'm thinking of you and I'm proud to call myself your brother. So from Leslie's brother to the world… Sit up! Pay attention! Help out or get out of the way! She's coming at you! She's awesome, she's smart, and she's unstoppable! She's my little sister and now she's 22! Go get 'em Leslie!

Friday, December 11, 2009


Well my dear blog readers it has happened again. I have wasted a perfectly good day or two trying to travel around the king's schedule. The last two weeks have been (and continue to be) something of a perfect storm of fallout for me, by which I mean that I continue to struggle with and work around the secondary and tertiary effects of events completely outside of my control. Let's take things in order. First of all, I'm not sure if everyone (or anyone) back home is aware, but a Volunteer serving in Morocco died recently. This, as you can imagine has sent shockwaves through the volunteer community and particularly the second year small business development and youth development groups. Second, shortly after her death we ran into l'eid kbir (pronounced laid ka-beer), which meant travel restrictions, social obligations, etc… Last but not least, the king came to my province which, while exciting, meant that all of the transportation the usually runs on a schedule abandoned their schedule, ran when they felt like running and left those of us not in the know hanging out to dry.

    This month I have been to Rabat twice. This is extraordinary and extraordinarily expensive. The first time I went to Rabat it was for the memorial service for my Peace Corps sister who, at only 23 years of age, was taken long before her time. It was a beautiful service and I would do absolutely nothing different if I had it to do over again. After all, if volunteers don't come together to support each other in time of need who will? However that basically cost me a week in site. This is a price that is difficult for me to pay right now because I am working on projects that require me to be in site right now.

    After that came L'eid Kbir. L'eid, as we call it, literally translates to the big feast. It is, as you might expect the biggest feast of the Muslim year and such an event that people travel from every part of Morocco to every other part in a rush to be with friends and family. As a result of the extraordinary travel conditions that are part and parcel of this holiday the Peace Corps heavily restricts travel during this time for Volunteers. Basically I yo-yoed from being stuck out of site to being stuck in site. What's more, the familial and social obligations inherent in this holiday mandated that I spend several days straight eating three meals a day with my landlord's family and my host family. It's not that I mind this at all, but this time I had no say in the matter.

The other interesting thing about l'eid is the menu, it's a sheep. Not just sheep meat, a whole sheep, all of it. I mean ALL OF IT. Right down to the eyeballs (which I was forced to tactfully refuse twice). I ate pretty much everything else though, liver, kidneys, intestines, stomach, lungs, heart, the fatty stuff under the skin, and of course brains. It was interesting and I found myself liking a lot of things that I thought that I wouldn't (brains with scrambled eggs isn't that bad). However, once again, the fallout was several days of touch and go intestinal distress.

    Immediately after l'eid the king came to town. I know what you're thinking, Presidential candidates criss-cross the states four or five times during the course of a presidential campaign not to mention the kind of travel they do when serving as President. It should be easy and fairly commonplace for the King of Morocco to hit every province once a year given how small this country really is. You would be wrong. The king makes his rounds on something like a decade rotation for the whole country. He hits each province about once every ten years. However, the south hasn't seen him in longer than that. I have been told that this is because there was an attempt on the last king's life perpetrated by a group of conspirators from somewhere in the southern provinces. As a result the south hasn't been graced by his majesty's presence in quite some time. This made his visit a big event.

When the King rolled into town everything stopped. Everything. His entourage requisitioned government buildings to put up his security detail. The local governmental institutions went nuts. Most importantly, for me anyway, the transportation infrastructure went completely haywire. They moved the bus and taxi stands across town. The Transit vans that I usually ride to and from site changed both times and locations. Some transport simply stopped running, and the population in whatever town the king was in tripled because of his security needs and curious out-of-towners.

The last thing that one need understand about the king visiting is that rumors fly thicker than flies in a pig sty. If it is rumored that the king will be going to some town in the next few days then every single transit, taxi, bus, and pick-up truck going to or from said location will be completely crammed full of people trying to see him. It doesn't matter if he shows up or not, they will still go in droves. It doesn't seem to matter that most of the time these rumors are simply that, rumors. People will still stop everything and go.

It was during this madness that I was called back to Peace Corps central to attend a meeting of the Volunteer Advisory Council. I'm just a back-up rep. for my class, but my lead rep. had a conflict so I was called into play. At this point people from the north who had come south to see family/king were beginning to trickle back north, and everything going north was completely full. For the first time ever I saw a taxi stand run short on taxis. Buses wouldn't even stop at cities between the stand they were leaving from and their final destination because they were crammed to the gills right off the bat. It was completely maddening.

I am more than happy that I am able to represent my fellow volunteers, and grateful that the king would finally roll through the southern provinces. However, combined with l'eid travel insanity and the extraordinary travel demands of this month already layered on me, by the end I was simply begging for mercy and praying for transport. The fallout has been extraordinary this past couple of months and I'll be happy when I can finally dig myself out from underneath all of this and start teaching English in my site. Hold on guys, I'm coming home I promise!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Loss and Hardship…

    A lot of what Peace Corps volunteers talk about is possibility and promise. We tend to be unabashedly positive people. However, recently Peace Corps Morocco was forced to acknowledge the negative possibilities that we walk along side throughout the course of our service. A volunteer from one of the southern provinces died unexpectedly on the afternoon of November 17th in a hospital in Marrakech. We can't know the details of her passing due to the strictures of the confidentiality agreement we all sign at the beginning of our service. Despite this the volunteers close to her have put the pieces together and have determined a few illuminating things.

    First, we know that she was sick for about a month before being forced to seek medical help. On the morning of the 17th her illness escalated rapidly, resulting in extreme nausea and a blinding headache. She was then taken to a hospital nearby where they determined that they could do nothing to help her. Afterwards they transferred her to the larger hospital in Marrakech where she died late in the afternoon with a Peace Corps medical officer by her side.

    She was twenty three years old. She was a member of my Peace Corps family, and though I only met her once I feel her loss keenly. We volunteers, especially those of us far from Rabat and the well served Northern provinces; often feel that we are our first and best support network. We are a family. To lose one of our own unexpectedly in this way can be devastating even to those who aren't close.

    Last Saturday, as of the writing of this post, less than a week after her death; her friends, her Peace Corps family, gathered in Rabat to pay homage to her life with us and the loss we all feel. I went, personally, because many of my friends were very close with her and I felt it was important to support them. The memorial service took place in the Peace Corps compound on a beautiful sunny morning. I remember being able to smell the sea that morning as a fresh breeze came in off the Atlantic. As if the earth itself was trying to fill the void we all felt as her body winged toward the other side of the sea.

    Her friends stood in front of us to share the ways that their sister had affected their lives. Her program staff stood up to say a few words about the work she had done and the lives she had touched. The Peace Corps librarian stood up to tell us about his relationship to her, she was a particularly widely read PCV, and during his speech something happened that sticks in my mind. He said, choking through tears, that he was sorry she had to die in his country.

    Now, almost five days later I can't let go of that moment in my mind. She had to die here. Why did he phrase it like that? Africa, the continent that probably birthed humankind has probably drunk more blood than any other place on earth. That is part of why we are here, because so much of that blood has been shed by innocents and bystanders in seemingly unending conflict. Some places are so soaked in human blood that the locals claim it has turned the soil red. Why? To what end have all of these lights been extinguished before their time? Is it really necessary? These are, of course, questions that we are largely unable to answer.

    In this instance I can answer this question, at least partially. My sister, my friend, sold her life dearly. She opened up beautiful possibilities in the lives of both her fellow volunteers and the children she worked with in her site. She was teaching some of the kids in her youth house German. No other volunteer has done, or probably will do, that. She forced the shyest volunteer I know to share her life story in a way that made her want to do it. She brought art and life to people for whom pessimism, cynicism, and perhaps even despair were standard operating procedure. She pushed and pushed and pushed her friends and colleagues to focus on what could be and not what is. She was relentless. I met her once and instantly liked her. Was all this worth her life? Who can say, the knee-jerk reaction is always no to that question. It's inappropriate to react otherwise, especially to the loss of someone who is so young; someone whose life had only just begun.

    However, the cold reality of the situation is this; it's something that all Peace Corps Volunteers have to live with. We are living in a place, no matter what country we get posted to, that could take our life. We have come specifically because there aren't the services and support infrastructure that exist in the states. The odds of something like this happening are fairly low, but it does happen. I've heard that the life expectancy of a PCV is ten years lower than the national average in the US. I don't know if that's statistically accurate or not, but the principle holds for every single PCV I've met. We are people who value the quality of our lives over the number of years we live it. We push ourselves outside of what is comfortable and familiar, some of us do so recklessly. Maybe this is difficult for our loved ones to confront when stated so plainly, but it is an enduring fact. We are here giving it our best despite circumstance every day. We are here living our ideals. We are here for you, for each other, and for the dream that JFK stated so plainly when he sold his bold plan to congress. Look up the speech, it's beautiful. We are here, and here we will stay, each taking his or her turn, until we are no longer needed. We are here until that happy day when the dream of peace and equality for all is realized.

    This is why my sister, my friend, had to die. This is the price of that dream sometimes. So if you share that dream I urge you to pay homage to the loss of a young and bright life by putting your money where your mouth is. Go out and volunteer somewhere. Go give comfort to those who suffer. They are everywhere. If you truly regret her death then help us end the need. Help us make the world a better place for everyone who lives now and even those who do not yet draw breath. It's easy. It's necessary. You can do it now. Don't wait till tomorrow, or until after your hair appointment or until your rent check clears. Don't wait till someone in your life is suffering to see that the need is everywhere. Go. Help. Do it now. Thank you.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Madame Secretary?

    Two days ago I shook hands with our current Secretary of State a certain Hillary Rodham Clinton. Maybe you've heard for her. You may have even voted for her in the primaries. She visited Morocco during the time that my class was in In Service Training. This was no more than a fortuitous coincidence and I would not flatter myself by saying that she was in any way here on our account, but she still made time for us in her schedule which is nothing to be sneezed at. Mrs. Clinton is in many ways a personal heroine to me and many of my friends.

    Beyond our personal admiration for her she has positively affected all of our services regardless of our personal political beliefs. Allow me to elaborate. Our previous administration also had a female secretary of state, but unfortunately she was serving under a president who ended his tenure so universally maligned (if not outright hated) in Morocco that her position actually hurt people's opinion of her. This time around things are a little different. Our current president's very recent African heritage makes it very easy for people here to identify with him. Occasionally they seem to even take a little too much ownership of his success in my opinion, but I'm not here to judge or pick nits so I will gladly let that slide.

    Hillary's sister is also married to a Moroccan man and her in-laws still live here. When you combine the fact that she is part of an administration headed by a half African man who is actively reaching out to the Muslim world with her role in spearheading that effort and her personal connections to this country you find yourself hard pressed to find a way to make her more beloved here. As a woman in power she has conducted herself in a way that is both assertive and dignified. She is about as good as it gets when it comes to positive female role-models.

    With that in mind you begin to understand what an asset she is to a volunteer trying to open young girls' eyes to the possibilities that await them in a moderate, and actively reforming, muslim country. I have thanked God for her every time my host-sisters have re-opened a book after talking about her. She is the living embodiment of hope for young women who's intelligence and ambitions far outstrip the lives that their mothers live. Without Hillary what would we say to girls who are on the verge of dropping out of school, to girls who see few options other than marrying early and living with their husband's family, or to girls whose villages judge them, not by their brains, but by their bread.

    I would be shocked right out of my socks if Hillary Clinton ever read a single word of my humble blog, but on the off chance that this ever happens I just want to say thank you Hillary for inspiring our girls to shoot for the moon and for being generous enough with your time to shake my hand and ask me how I'm doing. You are truly a blessing to Peace Corps volunteers in this country and many others. Keep up the good work and see if you can't put a dent in the Israel issue while you're at it. Peace out y'all and keep reading. I'll be posting more and more often in the upcoming weeks.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different…

    My sitemate left our site for the last time today. We moved the majority of her stuff into the scary room in the middle of my house and she left our site to go to America. Home. I feel all kinds of things right now, but mostly I feel like I'm just gonna miss my sitemate. Time to get back in the saddle.

    A little bit about my sitemate first, my sitemate was a unique individual in my life. She grew up in Ohio and a huge fan of the buckeyes. She was a cheerleader for most, if not all, of high school and then left it all for the west coast. She went to a small school in southern California for her undergrad and spent a lot of her time on and around the beaches of orange county.

    One her first major travel experiences, definitely the one that got her interested in travel, was a semester with the Semester at Sea program. Through this program she hopped from port to port around the world for the course of an entire semester while taking courses for college credit. My sitemate saw the world for the first time. At this point she was hooked on travel. I'm not sure whether or not she applied to the Peace Corps during her last year of college or shortly thereafter, but apply she did and was eventually accepted to the program in Morocco as a health volunteer.

    As with most prospective volunteers, she had a little down time between the end of college and the beginning of Peace Corps. She elected to spend this time travelling Central America. Her original plan was to backpack all the way back up to America, but she was offered a job by a young man who runs a hostel in Panama while she was passing through. She and her backpacking buddy elected to stay on as hired help and my sitemate's employer eventually became much more. So it was that she left for the Peace Corps with an amazing experience working in Panama and a wonderful boyfriend.

    All this describes how my sitemate came to be in the Peace Corps, but it doesn't describe her as a person. My sitemate is a bubbly personality; one of those people who never seems to run out of energy. She is relentlessly positive and social which made her a shoe-in for most the most integrated volunteer in our class. In our village she was constantly making the social rounds in a way that I couldn't even if I had been as enthusiastic. Her position as an American woman gave her access to both the private world occupied by women and the public world occupied by men. Her work at the sbitar (health clinic) made her a trusted person in our community.

    With me it was a little different. She was my confidant, friend, and fellow spectator on the Amazigh world. We shared walks out under the stars and discussed our philosophies on life, love, politics and everything else. She is thoughtful, intelligent, and open-minded. We laughed at our foibles and the many aspects of Moroccan life which seem ridiculous and bizarre to American sensibilities. My sitemate was steady and always willing to talk if I needed to. There at the end she was even getting to be a pretty good cook. She is driven, curious, and dogged in her pursuit of new skills and interests.

    This was, and still is, my sitey. Dearest sitey you will be sorely missed. I wish you all the success in the world and feel safe in saying that you will find success in anything you attempt. There aren't enough of your kind in this world and my site is all the poorer for not having you in it. Be good and tell yo' man that I'm insanely jealous of the fact that you will be a part of his life and not mine. It's just not fair. Marhaba any time you want to come back. The fellas down at the commune won't stop talking about how much they miss you and our favorite landlord has almost come to tears a few times talking about it. You are wonderful, unique, and a blessing to those who know and love you. This tribute doesn't come close to doing you justice and I know it, but I also know that you are generous enough to forgive me this and the fact that I didn't say all this to you in person. Bye babe.

Monday, October 12, 2009

You are not your effing Khakis!

    As someone who has collected a string of odd and different jobs, it has always been my stance that a person is not just the job that they perform. Experience has born this out for me over the course of my short and eventful life. Take my friend, we'll call her Molly, Molly is in her late fifties and is enjoying her third career as a gardener working for a large landscaping company near Asheville. She lives with her partner in Asheville, enjoys going to opera, loves the local art scene, and generally milks life in Asheville for all it's worth. However, the fact remains that in the reductive mindset of our times Molly is "just" a gardener.

    In my current life as a PCV I run across this dilemma in another sense. Many of the Moroccans I work with do not socialize with me outside of our interactions in the work setting. My interactions with PCVs tend to fall to the other extreme. I interact socially with PCVs much more than I do actual work with them, and when we do work it is often used as an excuse to create a social event.

    This dichotomy leads to a rather unfair double standard around the value many PCVs, including myself, place on relationships between Moroccans and PCVs and PCVs and PCVs. For example, if my counterpart is a nice guy who sucks at his job I will most likely think poorly of him because I don't interact with him in the social milieu in which he shines. The same holds true for basically any Moroccan in my life with the exception of my host family and friends in my site. It certainly is the tendency almost universally in my working life.

    On the other hand the standard by which I judge PCVs is much more lenient when it comes to their professional performance. These people are usually my friends first, and therefore if someone's personality rubs me the wrong way then it doesn't matter how good they are at their job I won't like them. On the other hand there are volunteers who probably aren't as effective as they could be and might even be outright hostile to Moroccans occasionally, but because I mesh with their personalities I find myself defending them when I shouldn't.

    The fact is that good people are good people, but doing what you say you're going to do is part of that. If you take a job and don't try to at least be competent at that job it indicates a failing on your part. Some personality defects affect other people more than others, but when you go back on your word you always hurt someone. Unfortunately I struggle with seeing the whole picture around both Moroccans and PCVs, and PCVs tend to get the better end of that deal. We aren't our jobs, but they are part of us.

    That is of course with the possible exception of myself. I'm afraid that I will forever be "Peace Corps Jack" to a small group of Fullbright scholars in Rabat. Thanks for putting me up guys, I appreciate the hospitality. Be good and DO WORK!