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!!!!

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I am ready for anything…..

There’s no looking back! Tomorrow, my fellow volunteers arrive to start this GLOW camp (Girls Leading Our World), which I will write more about later. I haven’t been very vocal about the planning of this project… mostly because it has taken quite a bit of time and well, failure sometimes seems imminent so I didn’t want to jinx myself. I have been trying to reflect during the process and will definitely do a lot afterwards.

One of the most apparent realizations, to date, is how important and vital the support of other volunteers has been. I have said before that other Peace Corps volunteers serve as sort of a new makeshift family during a Peace Corps service. This family of volunteers that has helped to plan and support the project in so many ways and overall made the process a much more worthwhile experience. There are still quite a few kinks to work out… not at all unsurprising even though there are T-3 days until the launch of the camp… but I am somewhat calm. I am really excited to give the girls a new opportunity and spend some time with some of my volunteer family members.

In order to prepare for the camp, I visited souk today and found one of the best finds ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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10 dirhams= $1.20

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15 dirhams = $1.90 with my belt that I bargained for at a thrift shop in Dublin!

And last but not least… ladies and gentlemen- you all are never going to believe this!

So the story goes… walking around my main hangouts at souk, saying hello to my homies and getting a feel for what’s going down. Generally, Saturdays and Wednesdays have been my best purchase days but I don’t like to get my hopes up, it is really about getting the feel and trusting your instincts. My strategy is alllllll about the instinctual vibe, if I am looking through a pile and I don’t find anything good within the first couple of minutes… I peace out. Now, yes… this may mean that I might be missin’ out but so far my strategy has led me to some pretty good finds. Anywhoodles, I am at a table of a man who I have been frequenting lately. I am a big fan of the sellers who come back day-to-day and set up in the same locations. I notice he has a lot of pajamas and I am going through them- who knew you could find Winnie-the-Poo satin pajamas? I couldn’t find the bottoms though, so that was a no-go. Then, a kind lady (I like to refer to her as my guardian angel) turns to me and says (obviously paraphrasing), “This is good for you”. I kind of shrug her off and pull up the beautiful garment and this, my friends, is what my eyes beheld…

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Obviously, the excited me was not in the snug and warm cuddly-ness of the ONESIE yet! Yes! YES! I found an adult ONESIE for 5 dirhams! THAT IS A LITTLE OVER FIFTY CENTS! AND, and I know you are thinking there couldn’t possibly be any more benefits to this, WITH A POCKET! With this find, I just can’t go back for awhile… this is like hitting a jackpot on a coin machine in Vegas! All I have been able to hear when I think about my new pjs with a cartoon mouse for entertainment on them- is the ching, ching, ching of the coins!!!

I am ready for this GLOW camp, whatever it has to offer, with my onesie by my side.. I am ready for anything!

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!

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Awhile ago I had a realization that working with ALL of the youth of Morocco might not tickle my fancy, so I started to focus on working with women. This work, my goal of planning a girl’s empowerment camp and a book that I started today called, Lean In, have led me on the path to a healthy reflection.

There exist stark differences between Moroccan culture and American culture  and how women are treated (note* these are observational and occur in the North of the Morocco) but there are also quite a few similarities. The differences are fairly obvious, the most prominent being the public domain does not belong to women. As with most things, there are exceptions, one being the market area where women are often found buying their food and goods. Beyond that, though, men are much more likely to be seen roaming the streets. Of course, with my focus being on women- I have found wonderful pockets where women gather to form lasting and supportive relationships (with some gossip thrown in to liven things up!). The similarities though, lie more in the subtleties, where people may believe that women and men are equal but convictions or beliefs are thickly covered in nuance.

Examples of this are this range from the idea that soccer cannot be for girls as the beloved sport is only for boys to the idea that women can not be in male dominated occupations such as police officers. It also exists in the belief that modern day women to be great both in and outside the home. I observed this when living with our second host family and our host mom worked as well as cleaned and prepared three home-cooked meals a day. These subtleties can be felt in the words used to describe women. When once asking a group of Moroccan women, what happens if a woman is not a good cooker or cleaner, the response was a unanimous, that doesn’t exist. They are, without question, good housewives. But if I had asked a question that related to the workplace and all women being ambitious in relation to their careers… the same answer probably wouldn’t have been unanimous.

“‘She is very ambitious’ is not a compliment in our culture”

“When a girl tries to lead, she is often labeled bossy”

“… to this day I always feel slightly ashamed of my behavior”

As someone who was often described as bossy when I was younger (and maybe even now), these quotes from the first part of Lean In really registered with me. The feeling that being a strong and opinionated person can often make me feel ashamed or apologetic is all to familiar. And in Morocco, women that display these traits are few and far between. I have been lucky enough to find some of these women and truly relish in the company of those that seek to create change.

The concept of the “imposter syndrome” is very much in affect in both the US and Morocco. This syndrome is the idea that women do not yet belong to the “members-only club” that is the workforce. This is palpable for women in Morocco who are working on breaking through the walls of just being present in the workforce. While it exists as a subtlety for women in the US who are working towards being mainstays in all levels of the working world. Working towards this goal starts very early on, because it means working against conditioning that occurs during infancy and childhood.

“From a very early age, boys are encouraged to take charge and offer their opinions. Teachers interact more with boys, call on them more frequently and ask them more questions. Boys are also more likely to call out answers, and when they do, teachers usually listen to them. When girls call out, teachers often scold them for breaking the rules and remind them to raise their hands if they want to speak”.

This notion also resonates with me because I remember being told to raise my hand. I remember being scolded and told that I was only allowed so many answers per day or that I had so many call-outs before my name was put on the board. Now, realistically, this could have been because I raised my hand or called out often, but was I more noticed because I should have been quiet, docile and patient?

“Men are continually applauded for being ambitious and powerful and successful, but women who display these same traits often pay a social penalty. Female accomplishments come at a cost”.

At this cost, women are forced to deal with the “leadership ambition gap”. The idea that women who choose to be ambitious are often viewed very differently, Hillary Clinton being a prime example. There have been quite a few books written about Hillary focused on just how ambitious she is/was and how she should be viewed unfavorably for her actions. This gap is a very serious problem because without females wanting to break the barriers and willing to be seen as strong or ambitious then pay gaps, occupational stereotypes and in some places, basic civil rights will continue to be moot points.

“Fear is at the root of so many of the barriers that women face. Fear of not being liked. Fear of making the wrong choice. Fear of drawing negative attention. Fear of overreaching. Fear of being judged. Fear of failure. And the holy trinity of fear: the fear of being a bad mother/wife/daughter.”

All of these statements touch on fears that I personally have felt, and even though I am not a mother, I can only imagine the pressure that is on the women who are. These fears seem to be more prominent in Morocco because of the lack of working women. One of the biggest fears seems to surround the idea of being an unmarried woman. The desire to marry is so resolute that, even with the tenacious women that I know, it is a topic that is constantly brought up. Often after meeting me, it is determined I am better off because I am married. I haven’t yet asked why, but the nod of approval always leaves me feeling strange and asking what they would really think about me if I was unmarried. It is also very strange to many Moroccan women that I do not yet have children, and sometimes saying “inshallah, mn b3d” (God willing, later) just does not cut it. These questions resonate the focus on a woman needing a role in the home to be justified in society.

I am hoping, inshallah, the camp that I am planning with several other volunteers will be successful in promoting the girls to shed some of the notions that society has given them. I hope the camp will encourage them to seek roles that truly fulfill them and that they have choices. That they are full and beautiful people just by being themselves. That they can be active and healthy members of their community, right now. In both Morocco and the US, it is necessary for “institutions and individuals to notice and correct for this [societal] behavior by encouraging, promoting, and championing more women.” By recognizing that women should and must be active members of society as mothers, CEO’s, secretaries, teachers, CFO’s, inventors, engineers and volunteers and all of these roles will contribute to breaking stereotypes and walls of all kinds.

The first part of the book, Lean In, focuses on the question of “what would you do if you weren’t afraid?” The author confesses that she would write a book, and me? I would become a Peace Corps volunteer and help plan a camp for only girls that would contribute positively to their self-esteem, community contribution, and dreams.

While the cats are away, the mice will play!

OR… MOUSE in this case!!!! Tyler has been off developing youth for the past week and I have been ridin’ solo! Well, of course I have plenty of company with the cats- and lovely, lovely friends that come to visit!

During this time I have been trying to slowly come out of my cooking coma, which was induced by having to make EVERY* SINGLE* ITEM* that we eat from scratch for the past year. Having to schedule in AT least an hour for making something everyday sometimes feels like strapping my sweatband on with about 100 pounds in weights- in the end, it’ll be good, and the sweatband looks pretty fab, buttttt THOSE DARN WEIGHTS!!!! How did the pioneer SLASH do the Moroccan women do it? WOOF! I do not know…. anyway…. like I said, coming out of the coma! Pizza has definitely been a staple for us, but I decided to put a little pizazz into the regularity tonight…

 

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Regular pizza dough with some delicious herbs!

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leftover pizza sauce!

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why is the cheese arranged so circularly?

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to make stuffed crust pizza, of course!

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finished product- not to shabby!

now time for the ingredients!

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placement of the sauce…

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cheese! and if you look really closely… there is some “fresh from the garden” basil under there!

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topped with shredded chicken!

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into the oven- halfway there! (Props to those who began singing the Bon Jovi song!)

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finished!

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slicing it up!

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with a side salad of course! With homemade creamy cilantro dressing!

photo (14)there we are! The crust is stuffed!!!!

I would say we are out of that coma and ready to ride!! 🙂

Personal Pizza Dough Recipe

Ingredients:

1 t yeast

3/4 C warm water

1 1/2 C flour

1 T oil

1/2 salt

1 t assorted herbs (optional)

Directions:

1. place warm water in a bowl then put yeast on top- let sit for 10 minutes

2. add to yeast mixture flour, oil and salt… mix together with spoon and when the dough starts to form mix together with hand. Dough should be slightly* sticky.

3. Knead for 10 minutes

4. cover lightly with oil and place towel over bowl. Let rise for 2 hours.

The many faces of ….. Tyler

I have not been so good about posting everyday! I guess I will just have to post a couple of days afterwards… mashi mushkil (no problem!) its all about being flexible right?

While trying to get pictures together for a post about Toubkal and the amazing family vacation… I found a little tidbit that I thought I would share!!!

For those of you who know him, Tyler is not a fan of taking pictures! I have dialed back a bit (maybe too much) in my picture taking habits… because of this distaste. Most of the time, it is my taking a picture of him but I thought I would share in the many, many lovely faces of Tyler!!!! In many of them you can see the TRUE* joy that he feels when he is taking a picture!!!!

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BLOGLOVIN’, Feminist Style

I think I have mentioned before that I follow a TON* of blogs!!!!! And since I follow sooooo many, this will be a new series of blog posts! I discovered these early on in my service and really feel like they have helped me to become an informed person! So I thought that I would share them with you!!!! Here are the feminist blogs that I follow, I have a lot of time to read so I figured it would be most beneficial to be informed from many, many sources!!!!! Over and out, folks!

Feminist Blogs

AAUW

Achilles Effect

Anytime Yoga

Bitch Flicks

Bloomer Girl’s Blog

Crunk Feminist Collective

Eat the Damn Cake

Erin Matson

Everyday Feminism

Fbomb

F to the third power

Fat Feminist Fitness

Fem.men.ist

Feministe

Feminists for Choice

Fem it Up

Feminist Figure Girl

Feminist Frequency

Feminist Peace Network

Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog

Fit and Feminist

Gender Focus

Girl w/ Pen

Girls with Pens

Happy Bodies

Her Daily

History of Feminism

I Blame Patriarchy

I will not Diet

Mamafesto

Ms. Blog

Our Bodies, Our Blog

RH Reality Check

Rosie Says

Shakesville

Sherights

Sister Outsider

The Beheld

The Funny Feminist

The Feminist Teacher

The Feminist Wire

The Opinioness of the World

Title 9 Blog

Women and Hollywood

Womanisms

Womanist Musings

Viva la Feminista

Yes means Yes