Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spring Camp Ben Slimane

I firstly need to apologize for my near two week hiatus. We all suffer from longing when our favorite shows are off the air for several weeks. If I’m good enough maybe you suffered the same longing for this blog.

Well anyways part of the reason I wasn’t able to write was that I was out of town last week working in a Moroccan spring camp. As you may have read a year ago I did the very same thing this time last year. I went to a different city this year and got to see some new places and meet new faces.

Please sit back, relax, and read as I try to encompass into words the phenomenal week I had.    

Ben Slimane is a city very near mine and can be accessed by a direct taxi ride. I chose this site because I didn’t want to pay too much money to travel. I also chose it because I had heard of the famous forest it has. I needed to finally see it for myself.

I was glad that the forest brought me there because I got to experience a lot more than that. I started out the week feeling a little lonely for some reason but soon as the campers started to arrive I felt more and more alive. Aged 13-17 the teen campers were among some of the coolest youth I’ve met in Morocco. I enjoyed so much hanging out with them.

Camp consisted of English classes, clubs, games, activities, and sports. I taught the advanced English class and I chose to base my lessons around American culture. We learned about American government, Barack Obama, Halloween, and wrote letters to an American class.

In my club I taught the campers the Cha Cha Slide. Some were willing while some just watched. We got a lot of mileage out of that dance because we performed it at one of our night events and used it as a trivia question in a later on competition.  I chose this as an activity because it is a fun way to use new vocabulary. Next time all my student hear the words “slide to the left!” they surely will know what to do.

In the evenings we had group activities. The first night we played some games to get to know each others names. We also had a small open mic style talent show, a movie night, and a dance.

The biggest night event was the Moroccan wedding. I’m not sure what the appeal of having a fake wedding is but we sure did have a good time. The bride and groom were selected and Yassine and Wiessam were the lucky two. The bride and groom prepared and dressed then entered the room in their traditional clothing to chanting and music from the other campers. After some dancing and pictures the couple left, just as a authentic couple would, to change their clothes. This time they reappeared in modern clothing. If this were a real wedding at least five more clothing changes would have happened.

The wedding was paired with some performances of singing, rapping, and dances from their fellow campers. They were all considered gifts to the new couple.

On Thursday we took our field trip to the forest of Ben Slimane. We had a small bus that we had to make two trips to transport the girls and then the boys.  When we made it to the forest and started walking in I couldn’t believe how much beauty I saw. I felt back at home in the beauty of that nature and was happy to be experiencing it with others who enjoyed it just as much.

As the girls awaited the arrival of their guys we explored our surroundings a little bit. After we heard drumming coming down the trail we knew the boys had arrived and we started playing some field games. Capture the flag was included and I’m proud to say the girls’ team won.

After we spent enough time there we were bussed to another location to have our picnic lunch. We laid out under the trees eating our sandwiches and fries. After we ate everyone just did their own thing. I played some small games with the kids but my favorite part was just talking with them.

I enjoy so much getting to talk to these youth to find out their hopes, dreams, problems, and obstacles. I love getting insight to another culture this way. I surely found some interesting kids. Lots of them have a love for American culture that makes me feel like I am talking to a friend back home. And I love their questions about life in America. I enjoy giving them the honest truth and either confirming or changing the view they receive when watching the American media. Some kids like to ask about cliques in American high school because it is something not present in their own high school.

I had been waiting for nearly 19 months to have what I could say was my best day in Morocco. I finally got to label our day in the forest as just that. It was beautiful, interesting, serene, relaxing, different, and above all perfect.

Probably the most memorable moments at the camp, along with all the other camps, was the times that we danced. Moroccans LOVE to dance and so do I so in they way I really fit here. We always dance to a mix of traditional Moroccan music and some amazing hardcore club/house/techno music just perfect for jumping around till your heart’s content. Everyone who knows me well knows I love this kind of music so I am basically in my own heaven while all this is going on.

I made some great relationships with the campers this week and since I live so close I really hope to see some of them again.

Lots more photos on my facebook page.