A few days ago I went to this little town with Krista to attend an event through the village's womens' center. It had everything Moroccans love- certificates, traditional dances, bad comedy, and lots of pictures. The commune purchased an almond husker, saving millions of labor-hours for all of the women and freeing them to do an incredible variety of personal training and valuable self-enrichment stuff. Thanks, president of the local commune. At the end of this 4-hour event, we piled in the school bus intending to be dropped off about 6 miles away at another mountain town where we were expected to do an event.
Because we are oh-so-white and therefore oh-so-helpless-and-stupid, nobody felt like telling us the bus wasn't actually going back to our city quite yet. A high-schooler had left his copybook with all his notes for the biggest test of his life on the bus. During those four hours, the driver had helped out the kids in the town by giving them rides home. One of those kids took the book (maybe). So we bused over broken roads to every single little, stone house in the region so the high-schooler could accuse every single little boy of being a thief. Two hours later we returned to the women's center before finally heading back. It had been a long time since I'd had so much of my time wasted. Apparently it still frustrates me.
We made it to the second mountain town late and taught there until well after dark. We were test-running a soft-skills, 6-month program on the children of the Dar Talib, which is sort of like a boarding school/orphanage where rural students live during the school year. We could do this thanks to my Mudir, Zakaria and his friend Mohamed. It went well, so it seems we'll be running the whole program in the fall. Which is excellent news. On the ride back Zakaria asked me why we do stuff like this. He said there's a portion of the Quran that calls for helping people like that,... but why the hell do we non-muslims do good stuff? I started in on Nicomachean ethics and the importance of practice in forming yourself into a good person. Although at this point of night my Arabic was seriously flagging, I think they got the idea, however poorly articulated. Which again, was nice.
Then, today, we had another success with Zakaria and Mohamed and four more volunteers we'd recruited. We got 100 kids to read for about 25 minutes. That may not seem like much, but the average Moroccan spends 6 minutes a year reading things that aren't the newspaper. It was just freakin' incredible. I have never felt that satisfied from an event I worked on. Building a culture of reading and, further down the line, critical thinking is going to be a long, uphill battle. But I felt like we took an important first step today. And I needed to learn a few new skills to pull it off- primarily puppetry and drawing. Did I mention we did an hour of puppet shows before those 25 minutes of reading?
One other thing- I'll spare you the details as this post is running too long, especially with all the pictures to follow. A few nights ago I laughed with some local Moroccans. I laughed totally openly because something was hilarious. The peace corps makes us fill out these forms every 6 months, and one of the questions is "how adjusted are you?" - Thanks to that night - I think I've adjusted just a bit more than before.
|bigwigs of Rislan|
|second mountain town post-class|
|Mohamed and some bzaouz|
|this is a kid reading|
|Rislan traditional dance|