Tuesday, July 6, 2010

First experience as a real volunteer!

So one of the things that we are told as trainees is that we won’t really do any “work” until about 3-6 months after swearing in. During this time we are supposed to focus on language and integrating into the culture. We meet the people who are in charge (authorities, presidents, principals, teachers, etc.) and establish a rapport so that they are more accepting of us teaching lessons in their classrooms and cooperating with us on projects.

I was giving a wonderful opportunity to help a second year volunteer on one of her projects in her site. She planned a field day for the grade school in her site and needed help with running the different activities. Her and another volunteer planned 6 health and environment activities for the kids that involved topics on smoking, hydration, hygiene, youth development, habitat preservation, and waste management. I helped with the hydration station. We taught the kids about the importance of drinking a lot of water, especially in the summer, and to demonstrate the amount of water they need to drink, they did a relay race where they filled their mouths with water and had to run to two empty 2-liter bottles and spit into them to fill them up. The kids loved it (maybe a little too much). Despite some really intense competitors who tried to carry the cup full of water to fill up the bottles faster, everyone played fairly. After the relay, we taught them how to make a rehydration drink with water, sugar, and salt. The kids hated the taste, but they understood that if you have sicknesses like diarrhea it is important to stay hydrated and you lose more than just water.

Helping out was really helpful with learning new words in tashelheit and it also allowed me to practice conversational speech and having to speak quickly. I also interesting to work with the Moroccan school system. We had to be ready for anything to happen; we had different plans of action of the teachers decided not to show up or if the principal cut our time with the kids down. And unfortunately all of those things did happen. We got through it though and the kids learned some good information.

As for a site update: things are unbelievably slow! It is just so hot here that people stay in their homes from around 10 to 7. I’m trying to keep myself busy with studying language and being around people as much as possible, but I am really looking forward to having my own house. My Arabic script is coming along pretty well. I can write a few words and read a bit. My only problem is that I don’t know what the words mean . The past week has been really hard as far as language goes. Some days are better than others. Sometimes it is hard to keep trying to talk and have conversations when people can’t understand my accent and I can’t understand all that they are saying. I just hope that the light bulb clicks on soon.

Some new experiences include actually making bread in the oven and drawing up water from the well. I helped my aunt draw water all day so that she could get a roof put on her new house. I also found a house! I hope to spend my first night there tonight! Again (and I know I have said this a lot) I will keep working on getting pictures up as soon as I have good internet reception. Peace for now!

Happy belated independence day!

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