Greetings from Spring Camp in Fes!
Every year during school spring break, Youth Development Volunteers work with the Morocco Youth Ministry at week-long English camps. The YD volunteers coordinate volunteers from other sectors to be counselors and we teach English classes, run clubs, sports and afternoon and evening activities with the kids. The kids range in age from around 12 to 16. The Fes camp has 70 kids and there are 10 PCV counselors.
The kids are split up for English class based on a test they had on Sunday when they arrived. I’ve been helping out in the lowest level class, as that is the level of the kids I teach in the Dar Chebab in Ribat El Kheir. Interesting how many show up every morning w/o any paper or writing instrument. No interest in being there. The clubs meet every afternoon and the kids chose the club they attend from Business, Art, Gender and Development, Leadership and Theater. I’ve been helping out with the Business Club. They created their own companies and we had a laptop company, Delicious Jam (yum yum), Adolescent Clothing, Motorcycles and natural herb medicine companies. Yesterday was our final meeting and we did a stock market simulation (kinda sorta) of their companies.
It’s such a study in contrasts. The kids here are fairly well off, pretty typical teenagers, much more sophisticated than the kids we have in our communities in our small villages. These kids-boys and girls both-change clothes 3-4 times a day. Boys use more hair products than the girls. One boy has been hanging w/counselors since he goes to school in Spain and for the week he’s home on break his parents sent him to this camp. Mesquin.
Wed afternoon was an excursion to the old Fes medina. Figured I’d go to get background info on some of the sights/historical buildings and see some new sights. Then I’m thinking “darn” it will be in Arabic. No worries. Didn’t get any info at all. Walked to the medina (1 hr), all around the medina (2 hrs), in and out of great mosques, etc., but no info at all for the kids. Interesting outing-basically a long walk. At least I found out about a new door at the south end of the medina that will come in handy in the future when I need to get to my taxi stand from there.
As is typical of camps, there are camp songs-many in Arabic, some in English. I love the one that goes: “I am happy to see you and to say (snap fingers twice)” Remind you of anything? Moroccan version of “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands (clap twice)."
Last night several of us ditched dinner w/the campers for sushi. Zen. Delicious. But no beer or sake (waxa). Expensive by Peace Corps budget standards, but the least I’ve ever spent on sushi-equivalent to about $17 total. Worth every durham. Tonight is the last night of camp and the Entertainment Extravaganza. The kids are remarkably willing to get up in front of one another and perform, so it promises to be quite a show. They have all afternoon to practice, so we get the afternoon off.
I’m also taking care of a little Coop business while I’m here. Cynthia showed me the printer she’s been using here in Fes for her Coop. I want to get competitive pricing for when we are ready to print brochures and business cards. (I’m working on the brochures-plan is to do the first ones then train the women on Publisher, then bring them to the printer so they are doing it all themselves.) Went by the printer and they showed us the banners and signs that they can make. Since we’ve finalized our Coop logo, I decided to surprise the women when I return w/a banner w/the new logo. It looks fabulous. Can’t wait to show it to them!
Language commentary-being around 9 other PCV camp counselors all week-the ones who have been here almost 2 years have great Arabic. Even those who I trained with are doing very well. I’m just catching on slower, but have to be patient w/my own progress.
Made a trip to Marjane (super grocery) today to pick up the stuff that I can’t get in my town (incl. sneaking in a couple bottles of wine past the kids). Manage to spend 560DH-on simple things like a couple frames, a cotton jersey skirt, flipflops, washcloths, etc. Kinda like Costco-seems like you can’t get out of the place under a minimum purchase amt.
I’m off to Sefrou in the morning for a meeting on the Woman’s Wellness Workshop that a couple Environ PCVs have coordinated. The workshop is 3 days next weekend (Thurs-Sun) in Sefrou. I’m going to help out. Should be fun.