Saturday, April 14, 2012

Spring Camp – Getting my teach on

This week, Peace Corps held its annual “Spring Camp” where the Peace Corps Trainees (that’s me) hold an entire week of English classes and activities at the local Dar Chebab. Moroccan kids love it because they get free English from native speakers and Peace Corps loves it because it’s an instant training ground for the newbies. Each trainee is supposed to teach at least one 30 minute English class and lead one small activity; however, since our group has been struck by illness, those of us still standing have been teaching several hours per day.

Starting the week with the “beginner” students, our lessons included greetings, parts of the body, senses and numbers. As the week progressed, we transitioned to the immediate/advanced students, engaging in discussions about pollution in Morocco and the role of women in society. In addition to strict language study, I choreographed and taught a dance to the song “Jai Ho” with a fellow trainee as well as playing soccer, Frisbee and various ‘camp’ games with the students.

Unlike most communities in the Western world, there are not a lot of other activities for kids outside of school hours. Organized sports, musical groups or clubs and other “extracurriculars” are minimal.  The result is that the majority of intelligent, creative and fun-loving children spend their free time watching TV instead of fostering their talents. It’s difficult to know that my host sister’s beautiful voice will be restricted to singing along to her favorite Arab Idol stars on primetime instead of school choir. The positive result is that Spring Camps students are engaged; they have chosen to spend their vacation studying instead of catching up on the best Turkish Soap Operas. The students want to be there and want to learn. Whether they attend out of utter boredom, dreams of a bright future or just to take pictures with the Americans, we have been blessed with enthusiastic students. What else could a teacher ask for? 

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