While much of my experience here in Morocco thus far has centered around learning Darija and eating (a lot), once I get to my final site, my official job with Peace Corps will be doing youth development activities at the youth center or Dar Chebab in whatever town/city I get placed in. This past week, my training community group had a visit from a currently serving volunteer who got us started actually planning and carrying out activities in our training site.
Youth Development seems a bit hard to define, harder at least than just teaching English or doing health work or other things Peace Corps Volunteers find themselves doing all over the world. Basically it can be anything that helps young people be more ready for family life or the working world, with our training focusing on teaching English, organizing clubs and organizing camps. On the whole, working at summer camp for all those years in the United States (Yay Presbytery Point!) was great preparation for the work I will be doing here.
Our PCV stayed with us for almost an entire week, with our usual language classes giving way to discussions about doing needs assessments and how to organize our activities.
During the week, we were responsible for teaching an English class, running a club activity and running a camp activity – three required items for us to pass training and qualify for service. Basically Peace Corps wants to make sure we can do the things we’ve been brought here to do.
The first day, our PCV ran a sample English lesson for us to watch, just to get more comfortable with understanding how a class is run and the types of activities you can do in it.
A big part of this week of training was learning to do Participatory Analysis for Community Action activities, which are ways for development workers to begin identifying needs and issues within their community. For ours we had a group of youth draw maps of their communities to see what sorts of places are important to them and where they go regularly, with one of the big focuses being on finding out what girls in our community do and where they go. Two other tools included having the youth write out their daily schedules for us and their yearly schedules, which helps with knowing when are good times to schedule activities.
The PACA activities are all things we will carry out in our final sites as well.
In addition to doing the community maps and schedules, we also taught a couple English classes, did a couple art activities and taught Ultimate Frisbee, which was a big hit with the kids.
Now we have time included in our schedules every day to plan and carry out activities to make sure we get a lot of practice before going to our final sites. It feels really good to be able to start doing what it is we are here to do and it’s a lot of fun to start getting to know the young people who are in town. It’s a big age range and a big range of English-speaking abilities, but we are doing our best.
This coming week we have a couple big training days with the rest of our larger training group, so we will get the chance to see the rest of the trainees and catch up on what they have been up to.
I hope that everyone is doing well back at home. I know it was just sled dog weekend in Marquette, and this was the first time in four years I wasn’t spending the weekend outside with my reporter’s notebook trying to keep my pens from freezing. Oddly enough, I wear my long underwear way more often here than I ever did in Marquette, hehe.