We work at the grassroots level throughout the Muslim World to counter violent extremism before it takes hold, to promote tolerance and understanding, and to foster better relations with the United States.
Amidst organizing the end of the year ceremony at the Azrou Community Center in Morocco, unofficial ambassador Neethi Vasudevan has encouraged her students to explore poetry, songs, and theatre as a means to grow in their English skills and in their overall confidence. The students will present to their friends, family and community.
It’s been two weeks since my last blog post. I am now on my last full week teaching English at the Azrou Community Center in Morocco and I often wonder where all the time has gone. It seems to have passed by very quickly.
Midway through our first week, my partner Alessandra and I spent a lot of time getting to know the students and figuring out the best ways to teach them and ensuring that they are able to understand what is being taught to them. Now, towards the end of our six weeks here, I feel like we have established a good sort of relationship with them. We have gotten to know them, learnt what topics interest them and what don’t, how to gain their attention despite the language barrier (while learning a few phrases of darija in the process) and building our students’ creativity. We’ve had many good days and a few bad, all of which have contributed towards the overall experience we have had thus far, enabling us to further encourage the students to embrace their capabilities, come out of their shell and grow.
With both the final exam and the final program celebration coming up, we have all been quite busy with preparations. Despite the amount of work and effort they have had to put into studying, the students have taken it upon themselves to come up with many innovative ideas as to how to present the English skills they have learnt from us thus far. They have come up with ideas ranging from singing a song to writing a skit or doing individual presentations.
It is this very process of coming up with new ideas that has not only helped our students come out of their shells, but has also helped them interact with each other much more and learn to apply the English skills they have learnt thus far into practice. A prime example of this is our students in the intermediate level. They not only came up with the idea of singing “Forgotten Promises” by Sami Yusuf for the celebration, but also were able to utilize all that they had learnt in the past weeks to understand the true meaning of the song. When in doubt they turned to us, and I was filled with joy, just seeing them try their hardest, learning to work in groups and most of all no longer being afraid of asking us many questions however simple they may have been.
The students in the advanced class also got very involved in the process of coming up with ideas for the end of the program celebration. When we first had told them that they had free reign to use their creativity and come up with their own ideas, they immediately came up with the idea of writing their own skit and performing it for the program. In addition to that, they had also come up with the idea of each of them doing there own presentation, so as to display all that they have learnt and how much they have improved in these few weeks. Since the beginning of classes here, both Alessandra and I have tailored most of their lessons around improving their writing and speaking skills. We have given them packets on how to write properly and have also shown them multiple videos on how to speak fluently and exude confidence while giving a speech or presenting something. We have given them multiple homework assignments which have involved them doing some research and presenting it to the class. Due to the amount of time and effort we have spent on the improvement of such skills, I became excited when they told me that they wanted to show off all their skills through doing individual presentations in addition to the skit. Using their imagination, they came up with a multitude of presentation ideas for themselves.
For their individual presentations, the students will be singing songs, giving a presentation on mythical creatures, reciting poetry, discussing the importance of change in a person’s life; finally, presenting on insightful world facts.
Just watching all our students come up with these ideas on their own and watching them work hard to make it a reality makes me realize how lucky of a person I am to be able to have the opportunity to experience this in person. I am very proud of all the hard work the students have put into these classes and I am very excited to see them display to their friends and family all that they have learnt from us thus far. I can only hope that they are as proud of their accomplishments as we are of them.