I think the hardest thing about my project is the wide variety of language abilities, like I noted when I first got here. Although we divided the two classes by ability, that doesn’t necessarily mean that beginners come in the morning and more advanced students come in the afternoon, so sometimes I feel like beginners are being bulldozed when they come in the afternoon. However, I do think it’s beneficial for them to hear English being spoken.
More UBELONG volunteers arrived this week and one, Sabella, was placed into my project, so we now get to teach (and take the twenty minute taxi ride to Rabat’s neighboring Sale and drink a lot of tea) together, which has been really awesome. I had the students give me a list of things they wanted to learn or go over, especially because they have exams in English in the coming weeks. That really impacted my ability to lesson plan and actually teach information that they wanted or needed to learn. However, I have kind of exhausted that list so I’m excited to have Sabella to work with to come up with new vocabulary lists and maybe new ways to review the things we have already gone over, such as conjunctions, verb tenses, conditional statements, and reported speech.
I think the biggest thing that has surprised me about the project is just the flexibility of it. Friday is an important day in Islam and it is tradition to eat couscous (with sour milk, which is the only food I have tried and not liked since being here and I would definitely not recommend), so I only teach one two hour class on Fridays, and they typically let me pick if I want to hold a morning or afternoon class. Although I have tried really hard to create lessons from the list they gave me, I also have free reign over the classroom and anything I would like to teach or discuss. The afternoon sessions have been really incredible, as we basically just hold an open discussion about anything anyone wants to talk about, which has resulted in really interesting conversations and the ability to see how others view certain topics. One thing I am definitely still getting used to is Moroccan time, which is kind of like Michigan time, but instead of ten minutes, pretty much everyone is at least thirty minutes later than the designated start time of class. I make sure to be there for the actual start of class, but Sabella and I are often the only ones.
This past weekend I explored Rabat by myself, which only included about an hour of not really knowing where I was. It was nice to have time to just meander and see what I could see. I visited the Chellah, which are Roman ruins only about a twenty five minute walk from the train station in Rabat. I always find it so incredible that other countries allow you to just explore and walk among the ruins, as these were deserted in the 14th century, which is much older than anything the US has to offer and usually doesn’t let you touch. My weekend made me feel kind of like a tourist in the city I have been living in for almost two weeks now, but it was really awesome to get an idea of all Rabat has to offer, as well as the juxtaposition of the Roman ruins and the bustling part of Rabat I am living in.
This weekend I am traveling to Chefchaouen, or the blue city, with some other UBELONG volunteers. I’m excited to have the opportunity to explore more of Morocco and leave Rabat for a few days.