In Peace Corps Morocco

Pretty much perfect

My new programs at the youth center are going better than I ever had expected. Right now I am working there five nights a week from six to eight running the two new programs I developed this school year. Two days a week are English hour. English hour is my opportunity to be creative and for my students to learn all the things I always wanted to teach them but never had the proper platform to. I’m using this opportunity to teach about styles of music, dance, world cultures, art and other things. For example I did a presentation on hip hop music this week and at the end I attempted to teach the “Cupid Shuffle” dance. Some kids were into it while others were not and the small size of my teaching space did not help. But none-the-less it was funny for all involved. Next I will be presentation I put together about Ireland. I will be showing them pictures of the country, videos, and teaching them a little Gaelic. At the end we will play Irish Hot Potato. This not only is fun for me but I am hoping it is fun for the students. And they may learn things they might not otherwise learn. All lessons are all in basic English. So the lower level students can have a chance to understand but the more advanced ones can contribute more complex questions. Also each class is independent from the last so if students are absent they will not need catching up the next time. Saves me a lot of frustration. I just need to work on their punctuality!

My other activity taking place there is Library Time, three days a week. This idea came from me be saddened by the fact that my youth center has five shelves full of books that are all in perfect order. They have been neglected for who knows how long. I don’t know where they came from in the first place. But I find it to be a shame that they are not taken advantage of. I hope to share my love of reading with my students and hopefully build new habits in them. Also in library time if the students do not want to they can play one of the many American games I carry with me and hopefully learn a little English though playing.

So the reason that I titled this entry “pretty much perfect” is because that is what tonight was. Tonight was library time and even though the kids didn’t seem too interest in the books I couldn’t have been more pleased with the way things went. There were about 20 teens present and they slowly formed small groups as I handed out games and pretty soon every one was submerged into a game and having fun. I have my sister Rababe to thank for talking up my programs to her classmates. I am blessed to have lots of respectful and interested kids coming to see what I have to offer. We had Uno, Old Maid, Chess, Go Fish, Bingo, and Speed all going at once and mean while I was walking around assisting with the instructions and enjoying everyone’s fun. In a nut shell though it was chaos. But thankfully a slightly controlled chaos. I usually don’t deal with high stress situations. Loudness and noise drive me nuts. But get a lot of Moroccan kids together, just like any kids, and that is what you get. But I have not only been learning lessons in this country, I have been learning tolerance, resourcefulness, and how to be more laid back. Before a room of screaming teenagers would make me want to throw my hands up and leave, but now I’ve learned how to defuse the stress and get through one thing at a time.

Another reason tonight was “pretty much perfect” was because I actually got my world map project off the ground. A very commonly done project among PCVs is painting a world map in your youth center or local school. It helps to show the kids exactly where they are in the world and what else is out there. And by working on the project together with the kids they all have something to be proud of. I have had this thought for several months and with obstacle after obstacle I got more and more frustrated and worried it wouldn’t get started. But tonight myself and a few my students painted a large rectangle in white paint which will be the foundation of our world map. Our next step is to get the projector which we will use to project an image of a world map on the wall and trace around the countries. After that little by little we will fill them in and in the end we will be left with a beautiful map of the world we can all share.

Everyone is right about your first year of Peace Corps being an entire year that you spend getting your feet wet. I am to the point now that I know how hard I can push and how hard I have to push my Moroccan counterparts to get what I want. I’m not afraid of much anymore. I know what I’m doing and I’m so comfortable in how I’m doing it. I no longer feel the need to please my youth development staff because I know now that what I am doing more than adequate. I don’t even think about comparing myself to other volunteers at this point because I realize it’s all about me, my town, and my kids. And to be honestly I am thinking a lot about myself and all the fun I am having with my kids. And now that’s the most important thing.

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