MEGAN ON THE RUN
Sunday, March 19, 2006
It is tradition for the females to roll down this mountain to find their husbands. Whatever direction I am facing when I stop rolling is the direction of where my husband lives. haha
Guys and Girls Leading Our WorldI recently returned from an adventure in the desert, in a small southern town called Tinjdad. I worked at a GGLOW camp, also know as Guys and Girls Leading Our World. It is a program that encourages empowerment amongst the youth of Morocco as well as encouraging gender equality. Peace Corps implements this program in all sectors throughout Morocco. I was really proud of the turnout and how successful the camp was. We got tons of work done and covered some really important issues.
For starters we held a class for the older women of the community. We showed a video in Arabic about proper family planning. We addressed many problems that the women in Morocco face. After the video, we talked about a variety of issues such has going to the hospital to have your baby, not having an obscene amount of children and of course stop having children once you are older. We also touched on sensitive subjects such as protection and the usage of birth control. I was surprised to find out that many of the women were taking birth control. I also found out that many did not understand how to properly take the medication and were still getting pregnant. We opened up the room for discussion and allowed the women to ask any questions they had.
We also worked with teenage youth during this camp. With this group, we tackled the ever so sensitive subject of HIV/AIDS. For this class we had to split up the males and females. It is such a "hush hush" topic here, we simply couldn’t hold a discussion with the males and females together. I was really surprised at how open the females were and what they were willing to speak about. I felt the discussion was a huge success and was so proud of the students.
The camp continued with a hand washing class for the smaller children and a discussion of women’s rights in Morocco. Many of the smaller children spoke about their mothers and what they wished for them. The camp ended with an environment day that included an all day hike through the desert and a leadership day. For the leadership day, we invited several professionals from the community to come and speak about their jobs. We had an artist, several teachers and an association director attend the seminar. Each spoke about their education and what it took for them to become successful in their lives. The students were very responsive and had so many questions. It was nice for them to see successful professionals from their community who started in the same places they are . . . often times poor and destined to marry young.
Overall this was a great weekend and it was fun to work with youth in another part of Morocco. I left that camp feeling like work had really been done and differences were made.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Global Art ProjectHello everyone. I apologize for not writing sooner. I was busy and . . . lazy! Things are going really well here and I am keeping busy. I am still working at the youth center, women’s center and preschool. I love working at the preschool and have rearranged my schedule so I can spend more time with them. They are so refreshing and energizing.
We are currently working on a project called "Global Art Project" for peace. The association is based in the United States, but has participants from all over the world. The objective is to create a work of art expressing your vision of Global Unity to exchange with a person in another part of the world. I am doing this project with my preschool students in March and we are the first group to participate from Morocco. I have four classes, so we will be doing four different paintings and exchanging them with four different groups in the United States. Each painting will express their ideas of peace, love and friendship. In April, we will then hold an exhibition to display our art and finally, exchange it with our American partners.
To get my students thinking about all these issues, we participated in another project with the same association called "Let’s All Join Hands". This project encourages the celebration of diversity and peace. I felt this was an excellent stepping stone for the art project. My students each traced and cut out their hand while we discussed the above topics. They then wrote their name, country, and personal definition of peace on their hand (in their native script). I am mailing the hands to the association where they will join thousands of other hands from around the world.
Recently, the director from Global Art Project wrote me saying she has so many inspiring hands that she wants to create a book, The Handbook for Peace. However, she didn’t have any hands with Arabic so she is excited to include my students paper hands in her book.
I was so proud of my students during our discussion regarding peace. They are so young, but yet so insightful. Their answers were simple and genuine.
"Peace is when we are not fighting." -Youssef Elykiri
"Peace is love, friendship and helping one another. Also, it is friendship between friends and the world."- Nasr Abo Dayya
"Peace is having good relationships, cooperating and everyone has the same face." - Maha Elkoche
(He was trying to say that we are all equal no matter where we are from. We all have a nose, eyes, etc).
"Peace is when I love my mom and dad." -Imade Dana
"Love and Peace is working together." - Yousera Amar
"Peace is helping one another and love." -Ali Labyad
"Peace is love and respect." -Fatima Ben Driss
"Peace is no war and love and helping others." -Yassine Ahabechane
"Peace and tolerance in the world." -Fatima Zaher Elhasnaoui
My co-teacher is Moroccan, so the session was conducted in Arabic and they wrote on their paper hands in Arabic. I roughly translated the hands into English. However, it is a bit difficult to translate because there are words in Arabic that don’t translate into English.
I am digitally documenting the art project and will keep you all posted. I encourage you to check out the Global Art Project website at www.globalartproject.org.
Until next time . . .
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Sunday, December 04, 2005
The Holiday Season-Bitter SweetAs the days go by and the months add up, slowly I am finding my place in my small Moroccan town. A town I can now call home. When I walk down the street I am ambushed with hugs and kisses from both young and old alike. I truly feel loved. But, during the holiday season it is somewhat bitter sweet.
I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be in Morocco and I still have another year of experiences yet to come. However, during the holiday season I cannot help but be overwhelmed by homesickness and a longing to be on American soil. To no avail, I have been compulsively playing Christmas music trying to create a holiday atmosphere. However, it is not the same celebrating Christmas alone in a Muslim country where the holiday does not exist. Last year, during the Christmas season, a French cell phone company played “Jingle Bell Rock” in one of their commercials. The first time I heard it, I reacted as though I had just won a million dollars. I jumped from the sofa and proceeded to belt out the lyrics. My host family just giggled and considered it another “crazy American” moment. It was amazing how one commercial was able to connect me to home, even if it was only a few minutes. Family and friends sent gifts and I even had a stocking. Unfortunately, a thousand gifts and hung stockings cannot create the sounds, smells and feelings of Christmas. Christmas is not the presents that pile up under the tree or what seems to be an endless shopping list. Christmas is the indescribable feeling lingering in the air. Christmas is being with those you love. Christmas is in the heart. I suppose it is easy to get tangled up in the glitz, glamour and tinsel of Christmas. I myself am guilty. It has become so hard to look beyond the boxes and ribbons. Beyond what seems to have become a materialistic and commercial holiday that simply exists for the benefit of retail. However, beneath the shiny ornaments and pretty wrapping paper is the true meaning of Christmas. I believe Calvin Coolidge said it best when he stated, “Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”
With the holiday season quickly approaching and thousands of miles between my loved ones and me, I am trying to keep those words in my heart. Christmas is a time to celebrate freedom and peace. Spending the past year in Morocco has given me a greater appreciation for the liberties and freedoms I have in the United States. I grow to adore my beloved country more and more with each passing day. While I have been blessed to live in the beautiful country of Morocco, there is no country more beautiful than my own. I am so proud and thankful to be an American. So, with those words sitting on my tongue, I will celebrate Christmas and ring in the New Year with a sense of joy. Happy Holidays.