Monday, April 5, 2010

Fes Spring Camp 1

Since 2004 the Ministry of Youth and Sports in Morocco has sponsored English immersion camps in several locations across the country. As a youth development volunteer I was expected to give my time to volunteer at one of 23 spring camps around Morocco this past week. The camp lasted 6 days and I worked along side nine other volunteers, from all sectors, as well as a handful of Moroccan staff members.

The activities of the camp included daily English classes taught by the American volunteers, themed clubs, as well as night activities.

I was reminded of my days of working at camp in America. The feelings both make me cringe and fill with excitement. The awkwardness and the lack of self confidence written all over the campers’ bodies is a mirror image of my campers in America. I wanted to feel bad for them, and I do, but at this point in my life I am feeling more like a parent in the way that I want to embarrass them by being silly. Call me cruel but sometimes you have to force a kid a little bit to loosen up. The “I’m to cool” attitude will not work on me any more.

Since I am so passionate about writing I wanted to teach a creative writing class. Since this subject is quite advanced I was lucky enough to get the highest level of campers. I also had the freedom to do whatever I wanted. I taught four classes about creative writing to 11 really awesome teenagers. Each day they wrote stories about romance, adventure, horror, and action.

My class was calm and controlled. Instead of standing at the front of the class I sat with them around a large square table. It reminded me of a college English class where we worked together to share ideas.

This was the first time that I was able to really bond with Moroccan youth. All the members of my English class were able to understand me and also able to express themselves to me. As an exercise in class I had the students write a description themselves, then I read all of the descriptions aloud asking the students to guess who I was describing. Most of them talked about non-physical features like “I’m shy” or “I want to be more confident.” I was honored that they were able to share their true feelings about themselves and to admit the things that they wanted to change.

Just as in an American camp as time goes by the campers begin to loosen up and everyone starts having a lot of fun together. I always enjoy watching kids have experiences that will make them grow and to give them more confidence in themselves.

I have many stories from my week at camp so please keep reading for more to come.