well after 7 months in country, numerous meetings and trainings, and quite a few medical check-ups and vaccinations later i am officially working. after our second regional meeting, my mudir and i returned to site with a new found motivation and eagerness to get things going. so with that, he and i hit the ground running– well actually it was more like we hit the ground, scratched our heads, and crawled a little BUT we got things going. i started off with giving out surveys for prospective students asking them the basics: their age, grade level, what interests them in learning English (a couple said their parents were making them- a good enough reason, i’d say), and when their availability is. that day i came home with 12 whole surveys filled out, all by boys, and all in their late teens. this worried me a little bit since somehow this whole time i just assumed that i was going to get mostly girls to sign-up with a couple of boys peppered here and there but that was not the case after all. no girls signed-up. i don’t know what to do with boys. and dare i say, i’m a little scared of boys, especially boys their age. i think i was judging them by the boys i encounter on the streets and how those guys behave. however, after the first few classes i’m glad to report that all my fears were unfounded. they showed up to class fairly on time, or as on time as one can expect most people around here to be. they sat down, a couple even pulled out notebooks and wrote down notes, they were patient with me and my darija- if they laughed, they did it silently and without movement because i didn’t notice anything at all, and they humored me with my teaching strategies and games.
after seeing the surveys and talking with a couple of them, i noticed that they knew absolutely no english whatsoever. a couple knew “hi” and “hello” but that’s it. so i decided to put off my prepared lesson and started them off with the very basic, which is the alphabet. i thought most of them would be offended and walk out but they didn’t (whew!). as some of you may know, arabic script doesn’t necessarily use letters, they spell out the words by syllable so these kids aren’t used to dealing with individual letters. it was such a struggle for them to differentiate between “a”, “e”, and “i” or between “g” and “j” or between “c” or “k” and so on. but some of them eventually were able to do it. i made a little alphabet poster and drew a picture for each letter, which helped them learn some vocab words and i’m hoping they also learned the different sounds. anyhow, we have since moved onto numbers so we’ll see how they do with that. and as soon as i get students who come regularly, i can start them on some sort of curriculum and maybe in a few months time, they can actually start to form their own sentences!…inshallah, that is.
since the first few days there have been some girls who showed up to a couple of my classes so that was nice. i hope to eventually start an art club using recycled materials (and whatever my lovely friends and sister can provide 🙂 as well as a culture club where i can share a little bit more of amurica with these kids, hoping that they’ll know more about us americans aside from dollars, justin bieber (he’s not even american!), and alcohol…basically whatever they see on tv. besides the dar chebab, i have committed to work at the dar talib/taliba (it’s sort of a boarding house kids stay at during the week when they’re in school and then they go home for the weekend) as well as this place for girls in meloussa, which is a little bit of a commute but it’s cool. i’m not entirely sure of what this last place is, i did go there yesterday for a meeting with my mudir and a few official looking people where i was able to hand out some of my fancy schmancy peace corps business cards! anyhow, i don’t know yet what i can do at this house for girls place but the possibilities are endless. i can probably begin with half an english lesson and half art project type thing until i can build up my rapport with the faculty and the girls and then i can do a more substantial project. i am hoping to bring a few of them to a halloween festival that is being put together by a peace corps colleague of mine in a nearby town. i think they’ll have so much fun!
so here’s hoping that my days staring at the wall will permanently diminish, and i can move on to do something more productive and a shwiya more fulfilling. although, i’m sure that whatever skills i earned from doing nothing and staring off into blank space will someday come in handy if i ever get into a staring contest and i would certainly win in who can stare at paint dry the longest. my mom always says, there’s a reason for everything.