GLOW CAMP-video!!!!

Hey everyone! I know I made it seem like the GLOW Camp updates were done, but just kidding!!!!

The most important thing!

One of the volunteers that helped to put this amazing/fabulous event on made an INCREDIBLE video!!!

Also* the music in the background? That is the girls throughout the week!!! The same volunteer recorded them whenever they did cheers or songs (aka ALL* the time) and them embedded it into the video! AMAZING!!!!

*notice about 7:15 it is the Darija version of “If you are happy and you know it”!

*at 8:03 it is a war between tomatoes (matisha) and potatoes (btata)

*at 10:20 you can see the beautiful Larache coastline while the girls are doing their “Arooshtasha”

*at 12:33 the last night there was a wedding! The chant they are doing is one that is traditionally done at weddings and big events

*at 14:10, our caterer is leading the girls in the French version of Auld Lang Syne…. I guess ANYTHING can happen!

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GLOW- Last dayy…..

Last day…. surreal in so many ways… it really was only a morning of ……

IMG_0133pictures

IMG_0136filling out post-camp surveys

IMG_0156signing t-shirts

IMG_0173crying

IMG_0166hugging (and for volunteers being EXCITED for the hugging/success)

IMG_0149and did I say, pictures?

IMG_0180the volunteers!

And then… it was over. As quickly as it had started… it finished just the same. The center was empty, the rooms that had been buzzing for the past six nights felt lonely and the areas where the girls had come together and formed relationships were just that, areas. All of our hard work had paid off- the camp had gone off with a couple of glitches, but just minor ones. The project that we had talked to death was over….

it was done.

Which leads me to my funk. Although I have been a little more busy, I am still trying to figure out what this project means in terms of my service. I will probably never know that impact that it truly had- and that is okay. Sometimes life is better with ambiguity.

The tangible products of my doing that camp are:

1) I have developed stronger ties with many counterparts- gotten to know them in new ways and learned some of their strengths and weaknesses

2) I have new faith in my mudir

3) It is possible to do projects in Larache

4) I may have made some enemies in the delegation- whoops!

5) everything really is shwiya b shwiya (little by little)

6) I have experience in writing grants!

7) I already knew this but Tyler is an incredible support system and without his never-ending patience with my vents/outbursts/emotions, it would not have been possible

I feel like I should have more take-aways, but that is possibly the source of my funk. I am not sure how to think about everything or how to go about the reflecting process. This is the biggest planning thing that I have ever been apart of- that the volunteers were COMPLETELY in charge of- without us, it literally would not have happened. If I just take a moment to let that sink it- it is a wonderful/overwhelming/crazy feeling. So… as I attempt to start a new project I will treat the feelings of success with humility because the next project is different, the expectations are different, I won’t have the direct involvement of other volunteers as a means of support and well, the project itself is different.

Marching forward…. a little over 7 months left and attempting to live every day with vigor and excitement-without looking forward to going home TOO* much.

GLOW Camp- Hfla / Health Day!

So we are nearing the end of my narration of events of GLOW Camp… this was the last full day and by this point we were a little tired but still excited for the girls. So we started the day off with my fabulous exercise teacher (who, I am not sure if I have mentioned, has a black belt in Taekwondo) teaching some easy self-defense moves…

selfdefense-002 selfdefense-014 selfdefense-016Then, unfortunately our SIDA (AIDS in French) presenter was sick and we were not able to find another. But we were fortunate enough to have a presentation in Arabic that our wonderful counterparts were able to present.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For me, the mudawana (family code), sexual harassment and SIDA workshops were the most important. These workshops are often difficult to implement on their own so I felt that these were topics that were vital for the girls to experience, think about and hopefully talk about later.

Then we prepared for the afternoon Hfla (or party) to celebrate the end of camp! Which meant that the girls took hours getting ready- doing their hair, makeup, changing outfits. For the afternoon time an amazing counterpart come in and do some art with the girls as well as set up exhibitions to talk about Larache history and culture.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAcutting the tie to the afternoon events

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAfabulous glass painting

Then we began our Hfla events. It is customary with every accomplishment here in Morocco that everyone is given certificates… so we handed out certificates to the workshop presenters, the girls and also gave them a fabulous t-shirt!!!!!!!

We were also fortunately able to provide gifts for our presenters and my counterpart arranged for an all girls Genoua group to come and perform. Genoua is a very traditional type of music performed in Morocco.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGenouan girls in purple comin’ to start the party!!!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAhanding out certificates, obviously (me) someone forgot to do their hair

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the gift for our workshop presenters OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAgifts for our amazing counterparts that were there throughout the entire week!!!!

The party/celebrations continued into the night, as the girls danced, laughed and just enjoyed each other’s company and the new relationships that they had formed.

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some of the campers, volunteers, and workshop presenters!

Even though this was our last full day, we knew that we still had a lengthy morning of goodbyes ahead of us!

Stay tuned for reflection and goodbyes!

 

GLOW Camp- Career DAY!

Whoops! Got a little lost there… September FLEW by… now it is October and I haven’t finished updating everyone on GLOW camp! It is crazy… GLOW camp has been apart of my Peace Corps life- whether it be “finish grant” on my to-do list or email this person- talk to this person or meet with this person, I have to be honest, I have been in a post-planning funk. I recognize the feeling from after the wedding was over, when I would sit on the couch and think, shouldn’t I be doing something? Like then, I do have things to do but they don’t *feel* the same way, I know that getting a report done or doing my site profile (to prepare for the next volunteers -EEK!) won’t culminate quite the way GLOW camp did. So I am in the process of finding things that feel similar… we went to our regional meeting in Fes and then I stayed after for a bit to spend time with friends. Then last week, a beautiful and wonderful friend had a birthday so I went to Rabat for that! Hopefully our English classes get started again soon and we can have a sort of routine going. But… without further ado.. to help me get out of my post-planning funk I will tell you about CAREER DAY!

We had exercise of course in the morning…

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then we had our regular team-building exercises….

teambuilding-015Then we started off the morning with workshops on Goal Setting

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And a workshop on building a C.V. (or as we call it, a resume!)

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a break for lunch, which of course being Friday they brought out delicious* cous cous!

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(each table had two giant plates and then of course lben (buttermilk-yum!) to drink

Then art time, making friendship bracelets!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Of course our snack HAD to be delicious too- normally I am really full on cous cous days, but when they brought out bastilla (a delicious pastry stuffed with chicken) my stomach thought it was going to explode!!!!

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At night our workshops were about good governance of organizations

and career gender stereotypes, which, I wish I had a video of because the girls got very heated about what career belonged to which gender!

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This day was particularly interesting because we had to deal with a problem that never in 1000 moons would we ever have thought would happen. Even with all of the planning and thinking about insurance, safety, and rules, I ALWAYS know that there is going to be something else, but I am still never prepared for it. However fortunately, the provisions that we had put in place helped to relieve some stress off of the situation and we were able to solve it. Thank goodness!!!

We were ready to go for our Beach Day!!!!

GLOW-Gender Day!!!!!

So, on Gender Day we were on our second full day of camp! It seemed pretty surreal at this point, the camp was going- and going well!!!!! Of course, the girls still stayed up all night to chat, sleep in each other’s beds and talk on their phones but* they were becoming closer and closer!

Gender Day was one of the most important days for me to have at the camp. I wanted them to realize how special it is to be a woman. How many advantages they have, versus a lot of the disadvantages that they might see, that they truly have the power to change things BECAUSE of their gender and not in spite of it.

We started the day off with exercise, of course!

Then some fabulous teambuilding!

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this icebreaker became a favorite and was done at least ten times per day

Then we had workshops with these two fabulous ladies!!!!

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These ladies also deserve more recognition than just doing some amazing workshops on Gender day, because they are some of the reasons that the camp even happened!!!! During the planning time, they were available to translate anything and everything, and also provide feedback. I don’t know if I can ever truly express how humbling it is to,literally, not be able to write. Morocco is a very bureaucratic country and often our mudir wants the documents he has to turn in to be perfect. But, we can’t provide any of it! Especially because our computer separates the Arabic letters if we try to type it in a Word document. Our assistant mudir has an email, but I have to type a message in google translate (that is most definitely wrongly translated) and hope that it at least says some* of the right things. This makes the process of getting anything done 3 to 4 times longer than it should (it also means about 1000 hours of printing new documents out). These two were there for us throughout the entire week to help out with anything we needed, but they were there months before that making the camp happen from a distance. My gratitude towards them is never ending. Then to add to it- they presented some pretty fab workshops….

A workshop about the Mudawana Code (which is the family code written by the government) which includes clauses about divorce, inheritance, marriage, kids etc. etc.

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And then a Sexual Harassment Workshop

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Then of course we had art time!!! For art time the girls worked on “Stop Sexual Harassment Signs”

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Our workshop at night was on self-development and presented by a wonderful woman who works with a women’s association here in Larache.

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This was also the day that it felt like the girls were becoming a cohesive unit because of all the time that they had been spending together… this resulted in our first “wedding” of the camp…

409and continuous singing during meals- don’t ask me how they ate and sang the entire time during meals but they did! What can I say? These were some fabulous ladies!!!!

a video of these shenanigans would be here- if I had better technology skills (SORRY*)

One of the most interesting aspects about the concept of a Gender Day is, the word for gender in Arabic is the same work for sex. This is confusing especially when my counterpart becomes extremely bashful when she sees on the schedule that she is doing a “Sex Workshop” when the meaning is supposed to be “Gender workshop” (completely understandable!). I know in English it is a fairly new concept to treat gender as an entity and sex as an entity, but throughout my lifetime they have been two different ideas and always been presented as such. At first, I did not understand the confusion and still struggle with attempting to explain the difference when it is the same word.

All in all though- Gender Day was a complete success!!!! I hope the girls learned that they are special and unique because of their gender and it is important to be a woman and speak out!

 

GLOW- Opening Day!

Okay…. so I have been promising for awhile that I would talk about GLOW camp. I think the things that everyone knows thus far is that….

1) GLOW stands for Girls Leading Our World

2) it is a camp for girls!

I apologize for my secrecy… it has been in the works for a long time. But… up until the girls started arriving I was SO nervous that it wouldn’t happen! I didn’t want to go on raving about this camp that was going to be amazing and fabulous and one of the hardest things I have ever worked for… and then it not happen! But… now! I am ready to share!!!! 🙂

GLOW camp is a Peace Corps world wide concept that volunteers all over the world can use for their communities. It was originally developed in the Ukraine and spread from there. There are pamphlets and books developed to give volunteers ideas and guidance to do a camp in their site or country. One volunteer who had a big part in this camp found out that she knew someone that participated in a GLOW camp in their country  with Peace Corps volunteers when she was young.

Last year at our IST meeting (In-service training) at the end of September, a group of 6 girls got together (myself and 5 others who are located close to Larache). We had nothing but the idea to go on but we knew we wanted to bring girls from different places into one!

As time went on, we had one girl with family plans, one volunteer E.T’d (not extraterrestrial-ed but early terminated) and sadly, one girl moved out of our region. So… it ended up that girls were going to come from Ksar El Kebir (a town 30km east of Larache), Assilah (a town 30km north), Ouazzane (a town in the mountains an hour to an hour and a half way), and then Larache! After some deciding early on, we figured it would be good to have it in Larache! So we spent months getting all of the details ready for the grant, translating things, getting permission to use the center, deciding on workshops and finding Moroccan women to do those workshops- and that is just the cliffs notes version!!!

Now, to be honest, I was a little sneaky about the project. I didn’t really mention anything to my mudir (director) until April for two reasons. 1) I didn’t really want him to be involved because he was a man and 2) it always seems that when I say I want to do things and it happens to be 4-5 months out- there is always a HUGE* inshallah added at the end. I wanted to inshallah until my voice was gone… I and the other volunteers WANTED* to make this happen, we were GOING* to make this happen. I will admit, that not really asking for permission to do the camp did make things a little difficult. I asked for permission to use the center for our activities and overnight stay from the delegue (my mudir’s boss) but never really specifically said “Is it okay if there is a camp for all girls here in Larache?”. The delegue gave us permission to use the center in May and after that it was mostly up to the other volunteers and I to do the leg work until my mudir was ready to inshallah his way to making this happen.

Fast forward to the end of August

My mudir, counterpart and I are meeting almost every day. Tshirts are ready…. booklets for the girls are being put together, everyone is working their butt off to find girls to attend the camp and we are almost ready to begin in a week. The meetings consisted of printing out papers, putting our logo onto things, deciding the menu, talking about insurance, calling the girls about a meeting to meet their parents and completing packets of information for both the local government and the delegation.

GLOW 2Our fabulous logo!!!!!! Designed by a family member of a volunteer!

With the day of approaching, the atmosphere was tense. We had to completely change the vendor of the food at the last minute and it caused a minor explosion. We also had a tiff at the center because it was somewhat occupied! When all this time, we thought that the center would be ours to use- who knew? This all* the day BEFORE* camp! The only people that were stressed out about these things appeared to be the volunteers…. the Moroccan counterparts seemed completely relaxed! We finally got the food situation sort of figured out…but were still working on getting things in order on the day of, let me tell you, this was not due to our lack of planning. Moroccans are so good at doing things last minute and getting them done right. The day of… woof… called into the delegue’s office to listen to a LOT* of words I didn’t know and had NO idea what he was saying but in a tone that let me know something was up… then to only be released and told “I’ll see you this afternoon, but we need to push the time up half an hour because I need to travel”. So the camp can go on? WAHOO!

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My mudir ready for action!!!!

329Me… ready to go!!!!

Then… we were off!!!

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schedule for the week, others were posted in Arabic

Girls arrived…..

336waiting for us to start!

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One of the fabulous volunteers checking the girls in 338while another assigned them to their rooms

our Regional Manager and Program Manager from Peace Corps arrived to help us welcome the girls.

IMG_2877Amina giving a welcoming speech

 and then we had kaskrut (mid-afternoon snack) with the parents.

IMG_2884kaskrut treats- including date cookies! YUM!

IMG_2881first camp photo of everyone!

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Our regional manager helped us kick things off by being kind enough to share her story with the girls… she grew up in a family full of boys and made her way through her education and has been working for Peace Corps for 25 years!!!!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen after dinner, the first workshop was held and the girls made a “family crest” of how they define themselves!!!!!

We had some hiccups but the first day went wonderfully and set a fabulous pace for the rest of camp!!!!!!!

In the swing of things!

camelNo no no…this is not a camel from Morocco… but he seems pretty excited about Wednesdays!!! Which is something that he and I have in common… WEDNESDAYS!!!!! I am not really sure why I like them… but my affinity for them has increased tenfold since I learned that Wednesdays are our best souk days!!!!

This summer was not as slow as the last, in fact, it was really busy! We had some amazing visitors and recently had a SUPER successful day camp at our Dar Chabab. Of course, we could not have done it without three incredible other volunteers, I mean seriously, these girls were rock-stars! Pulling out icebreakers/songs/activities out of nowhere! Friendships bracelets, hands of Peace, collages about self worth! It was beautiful!!!! Here is one collage/poem that a boy wrote about himself that I found particularly charming….

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And then we were blessed with wonderful gifts from our mudir and the kids… it was amazing!

We will have another camp this coming week, which Tyler and some more rockstars will lead. I am stepping to the side on this one to focus on my girls camp coming up the first week of September. Inshallah, both will be a success!!!!! Then hopefully after the camp we will have a little downtime before our schedule kicks-in in October!!!!

The girls and I also had some really really really GREAT luck at souk last week, here are some of the items that I found!

bootsBooties – 10dh = $1.20

blouseWonderful Blouse (the little polka dots are actually hearts!) 14dhs = ~$1.80

blazerBLAZER! 15 dhs = $1.90

I have been asked to focus my spending exploits on specific items… so I am going to try to find nice office clothes! Plenty of blazers, booties and hopefully blouses and pants! We shall see!!!

HAPPY HUMP DAY EVERYONE!