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11/10 School Check-In

Today I walked down to the local middle school/high school campus with a Fulbright scholar who is researching girls' education in bled Morocco. She had a series of questions to ask the administrators; she's been in Berberville for two months now, but has had trouble getting the requisite paperwork to have admittance to the schools. I've had the paperwork for over a year, plus I've spent a year and a half building relationships with the teachers and administrators, so I accompanied her in hopes of smoothing her way.

It worked.

We had a very successful conversation with the principal, and he even gave her a copy of the school's enrollment records, complete with details about annual retention, failing students (or "redoubling", as they're called here), IB passage rates, and more, broken down by gender.

I don't know why the principal has been a stickler for the paperwork until now - he didn't ask to see mine until May, and I worked in the school from October onwards - but I was very grateful that he answered her questions fully and thoughtfully today.

I was less grateful - in fact, I was downright upset - to discover that the huge murals that we poured so much time, attention, labor, and money into last year...

...I don't even want to say it...

...have been plastered over. The king is scheduled to come to Berberville next week - and I say "scheduled to" because this is the *eighth* time that he has been expected in the past 20 months, and we haven't yet seen him - so everyone is running around, beautifying the city.

And for reasons that I cannot comprehend, the school administration decided that the buildings would look better with freshly plastered and repainted walls than with the gorgeous, professional-looking murals that the EE club students generated last year.

Honestly, it felt like a gut punch.

I didn't even notice it immediately - it's hard to see what's *not* there - but about 5 minutes into our visit, I suddenly noticed that I was looking at textured beige where a huge world ecosystem map should be. I hastily ran around to check all the other walls...all freshly plastered and painted.

It hurt.

When I asked the principal what had happened to all our work, he just shrugged and said, "You can redo them if you want."

That hurt, too.

And then we began discussing girls' education, and my spirits rallied somewhat, and I even proposed a few new mural ideas before we left...but my heart wasn't in it.

I did run into a few of the teachers we worked with last year, and talked about restarting the club for this year. We'll see how that goes...


  1. What was painted on the walls was always ephemeral. What you have painted on the hearts of children will last forever.

  2. I'm *SOOOO* sorry that the principal didn't respect the work that you, the other PCVs and the students did was worth enough to keep up on the walls for the king's visit (if he actually comes, which seems unlikely to be soon). I'm glad that we were able to take a bunch of pictures of them while they were there. *Hugs* I know that the kids who helped paint them learned a great deal about geography, biology, ecology, etc and that they are better off for having learned those things.


Think local. Act global. Learn more about the Peace Corps