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.
By Alexandra Green
“Teacher, I have a question,” a student exclaims while looking at me. After looking around, I suddenly come to the realization that I am the teacher—she is the student. Within one short month I have transformed from being a student, myself, to a teacher of 2 different languages. In only two weeks of teaching, I have taught motivated students, met numerous caring individuals, and made memories I know I will never forget.
Throughout the time I have spent in Morocco so far, I have settled into a routine during the week. I wake up each morning and attend Derija class—Moroccan Arabic—with my partner, Bethlehem. We immediately have the opportunity to put our knowledge of Derija to the test as we depart to teach the young children of Tarmilaat Village.
In the village of Tarmilaat, Bethlehem and I arrive each morning around 9:30. After drinking tea served to us by Ito—the village mom—our students begin to trickle into the hut and kiss us good morning. Although our students only have a limited understanding of French, and my knowledge of Moroccan Arabic is less than minimal, the students arrive each morning incredibly excited to see us.
As the students arrive to class, they join us on the floor—with their notebooks and pens—eager to learn French. Since the students span six different grade levels, we first divide them based on their level of French. While some students can speak in basic sentences, others struggle to identify the letters of the alphabet. Nevertheless, all students—no matter their level—have a desire to learn and work to the best of their ability.
After teaching in Tarmilaat for two to three hours, we depart to Azrou—where we teach English. Once in Azrou, we have time to eat lunch and review our lesson plans for the afternoon before beginning to teach beginner and intermediate English classes. Since there are only two classes and teachers, Bethlehem and I alternate which class we teach each week.
Throughout the first week of teaching, I rapidly learned that having the ability to speak English, and effectively teaching it, are extremely different. Nevertheless, I soon realized that through planning effective lessons—and a little bit of patience—my students have the ability to learn a lot about the English language from me. The unique aspect about teaching at Azrou is that my students’ range from 8 years old to 42 years old; despite this, they each come to class every day with deep desire to learn.
In our last class of the day, Bethlehem and I, together, teach an advanced level English class to the staff at Azrou. Although the staff is always incredibly busy at work, they always set aside time to learn English with us because they believe that it will help them in their jobs. Those at Azrou, without a doubt, have the highest level of dedication and drive that I have ever witnessed in others.
Aside from teaching, I have had countless incredible experiences outside of the classroom. I have been unbelievably touched by how accepting and welcoming Moroccans are. From my roommate who has shown me first-hand what Moroccan culture is like, to the little girl who approached me in the market and whispered “Bonjour” with a huge smile on face—more than likely eager to practice her French—all of my experiences have resulted in the Moroccan culture captivating my heart and mind.