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November 29, 2008 First "Leaders" Meeting!

The club that Fatima, LaHcen, many Moroccan teachers, other community members, and I have been working on for the past several months, has finally had its first meeting. “Future Leaders of Imilchil”, as we named it and as we hope its attendees will grow to be, was a big hit.

A few of the PCVs who’d come for Thanksgiving stuck around for the club, and every Moroccan teacher who has showed up to a planning meeting was also present (as were two new teachers roped in by their friends), so we ended up with 12 adults. Of the 30 invited students, 23 had returned signed permission slips from their Winter Break trips home, but only 17 showed up. We’ll keep working on that.

But a 17-to-12 student-teacher ratio meant that the students had an unprecedented amount of time and attention from their teachers. Most Moroccan classes are 20-40 students per one teacher, so this was pretty remarkable.

We started off with introductions and some name games. Not surprisingly, we had 4 Mohammeds (two teachers and two students), along with an assortment of other common names. I discovered that, even though the kids were all 9th graders, and had presumably been attending this collège together for two and a half years already, they didn’t all know each other’s names. Apparently, group activities aren’t as emphasized here as in American schools. Even more surprising to me, some of the students didn’t know some of the teachers’ names.

After the name games, we did a trust game (trust circles, a variation on trust falls), during which the students (not surprisingly) divided by gender, and then we did an art activity. We let the students use markers and magazines to create collage name-tags for themselves. We’ll laminate these in SouqTown and hopefully the kids will wear them every club. This allows for creative self-identification and will also enable guests to address the students by name. Inshallah.

That went on for much longer than anticipated, as did the final discussion, when we solicited the students’ input on what topics the Leaders club should address in future sessions.

In all, it lasted for three hours. We’d anticipated 1.5 – 2 hours. But the students’ and teachers’ energy remained high throughout, so I guess it’s all to the good.

And as we all walked back from the collège, on the outskirts of town, to our homes scattered through the center of town, we PCVs kept up a lively conversation with the teachers. (Three of the teachers speak English, and I talked in French to two others.)

The first meeting was definitely a success, and I’m really excited for the future. Humdullah! :)

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