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.

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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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IMG_0713

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!!!!!!!