GLOW- Citizenship day!!!

Well, the day started off on a strange foot. I awoke and apparently the girls had been AWAKE all night. As I said before, my expectations did not really go past the “girls arriving”, so I didn’t even think to put any worry into how the girls would behave! Keep in mind this was some of their first nights away from their family. We didn’t want them to just stick to their friends because the larger goal was to provide opportunities for networking and to create relationships between each other. The day before, when we had assigned rooms, we had quite a few tears because of the longing to be with their best friend. We had very little sympathy for them and just told them no. Little did we know that they would try to sleep in the TWIN-SIZED beds with their friends anyway… at one point in a five bed room, there were nine girls! Whew….



We were, of course, greeted by this crazy face!!!!!

We started off each morning with exercise, cardio, kickboxing etc….

exercise-006doing their powerful kicks!

You can imagine how difficult it was to wake them up after their festivities the night before!!!

In order to encourage them to build close relationships, we split the 26 girls into two groups for the week. So at any time during the camp- there would be two workshops going on at once.

The first workshops of the week were a First Responder workshop presented by a volunteer and a self-esteem workshop presented by another volunteer and her counterpart.


doing fabulous demonstrations

citizenshipday-029after the self-esteem workshop with their workbooks for the week

Then everyday, we had a little bit of art time! This is something very interesting about Morocco, it seems almost necessary for all camps to have some kind of art, singing or theater. I was always asked, “What about the theatre? Where’s that in the schedule?” For citizenship art day, they worked in groups to draw what would be their “Dream Town”.

Citizenshipday-010working on their “Dream Town”

citizenshipday-032Presenting their drawings

Citizenshipday-019“Dream Towns”

Then of course, we HAD* to have a coffee break. This is also a “necessity” for camps. When we did our Spring Camp with no money, Tyler and I were told that it was not that good of a camp because we didn’t have a coffee break. Along with this, was also the designated parent-visiting time. A Moroccan counterpart told me that it would be troublesome if we didn’t have a designated time because then parents would come at all times of the day. It seemed a little strange to me, the girls would only be gone from their families for only a week. Of course, parents wouldn’t come to visit. But visit, they did! Some parents even came EVERY DAY* with their entire families to visit the girls. This speaks to the collective nature of Morocco. Family is so* important to Moroccans. It is difficult for them to be away for even 24 hours,even some happy tears were shed some of  because some the girls would be so happy that their families came to see them! It is so endearing to see how much they love and care for each other. These subtleties in the culture are what make me feel close to Moroccans, even if I don’t always completely understand them.


delicious millwee, coffee and tea for coffee break!

citizenshipday-035Some parent visitors! These dads came every day!

Then after coffee break, we would have our second set of sessions for the day. The workshops on the night of Citizenship day were a Tolerance workshop and a Citizenship workshop. These were presented by Moroccan counterparts. This was very important to the planning of the camp- that most of the presenters be Moroccan women. We thought this would accomplish two things 1) It would make the camp overall more sustainable and 2) it would give the girls many positive role models to relate to

citizenshipday-042A counterpart from Larache presenting about Tolerance

citizenshipday-050A counterpart from Tangier presenting about Citizenship

Every night after dinner, the girls would play games, dance and just enjoy each others company. These were also the moments that made me feel very emotional. Watching them connect and build relationships with one another, it made me realize that all of our hard work to put the camp together, was completely and totally worth it. Citizenship day was a success!!!!!




Holllyyyyyyy Ramadan!!!!

Literally, it is the HOLY MONTH OF RAMADAN!!!!! Ramadan Mabroke! (Congratulations/ or more loosely translated: Happy Ramadan!)

Yes, you guessed it! We are now in the THROES of Ramadan!!!! Going outside today was a little like walking through a ghost town. We thought that we remembered that things were up and going around mid-day but by 11:30, all of the cafes were closed (of course) but so were many hanoots (stores!). Also, Wednesdays are usually our best souk (market) days but today left a little to be desired.

So here we are Ramadan…. its you…. and me (cue* old Western movie music)

Ramadan : are you yella?

Me: No I’m not yella- give me all you got!

Ramadan: I’ve got lessons…. lessons you’ve never dreamed of!!!!

Me: What you mean, lessons? I don’t need to be taught nothin! I’ve seen you around these parts before… you don’t do nothin but cause trouble!

Ramadan: At dawn, in the 8th month…. you’ll see!

(cue* old Western music)

Well, obviously I have had a face-off with Ramadan… closed stores, slower schedules, hard travel etc. etc! But* it is important, just like many holidays, to find and hold true the deeper meaning. What is it about Ramadan that  is so special and oftentimes, a favorite holiday of many?

I guess Ramadan was right, I DO* have a lot to learn.

Ramadan goal:

write a blog post every day!!!!

The Moroccan Jillian Michaels

“Life is a series of losing yourself and finding yourself over and over.”

I saw this quote this morning and thought to myself…. ooo I have lost myself alright, in giant piles of bread, pasta, and meat along with the lovely absence of regular exercise! I cannot blame it entirely on Morocco though… my husband is blessed with an excellent metabolism (yes, he has lost weight here) and craves a diet of carbohydrates, sweets and abhors any physical activity other than bike riding. Needless to say, doing any Jillian Michaels or Hip Hop abs videos with me… is completely* out of the question. I do have to hand it to him though… We did have a consistent running schedule for three weeks!

Although it was wonderful to be running again… those three weeks were bittersweet. Some volunteers run in their sites regularly and enjoy it, I however feel like I love running too much to share it. At home,  I run because it helps me get out of my head every once and awhile… running in Morocco, for me at least, means that I have to be significantly more aware of my surroundings. Even running with Tyler- I could never quite find that one small moment of peace. Even if those moments are few and far between with Billy Blanks and Denise Austin… the exercise still is more meaningful with the videos compared to running outside. In early November however, I started to find the videos lackluster, running not as peaceful and my motivation for exercise diminishing. These feelings were exacerbated by comments I had received from several Moroccans that I had gained weight. Although I can pretend all I want that I don’t understand- I DO understand and so does my self-esteem. Even if I didn’t already feel the difference, finding a full-length mirror or a scale here is like finding a needle in a haystack!  Anyway, commenting about weight is another aspect of Moroccan culture I do not understand, but it has me thinking about standards of beauty… both here and in the US. I am hoping to update on that soon.

So…… with exercise issues and apparent weight gain (along with the onset cold and dreary days) I felt myself slipping into a rut…. until two weeks ago. 

While eating lunch with our assistant mudir, he mentioned that his wife worked at the local Sports Center. I took this opportunity to ask if there were workout classes for women. I thought, maybe if there weren’t I could at the very least start some! But low and behold, there are! 3 days a week, twice a day! Very exciting!! However, here it is necessary to keep any expectations very low… so the following week, I biked the 20 minutes to the Sports Center. I told myself, that 40 minutes of biking was a good addition and even if the class wasn’t difficult, it is still early enough to get in some time with Jillian when I get back home. Well, I am elated to report…. extra Jillian time is completely UNNECESSARY!

After going for a week, the workouts are invigorating, difficult AND entertaining! The lady who leads the classes is akin to Jillian Michaels, incorporating different parts of the body, kickboxing, and EVEN plyometrics! There are between 8-10 women in the class regularly and they are wonderful*!  Also who would have thought- I ACTUALLY found a needle in the haystack, there is a full length mirror along one entire wall in the room! WHAT!  

I feel like I have found myself again, in the piles of bread, pasta, meat and configuring healthy meals that satisfies both Tyler and I! Like a light has decided to shine upon me!!! And even though it is interesting to see what bounces in that full length mirror while doing plyometrics… I am happy to see my reflection along with my fabulous new workout buddies!