In late January I traveled down south (a whole 13.5 hours) to take part in a volunteer’s GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) Camp that she coordinated with a local association in her town.
“The camp was coordinated and planned by my outstanding site mate and our awesome counterpart. 43 girls between the ages of 13-17 came from rural villages to participate in the 5-day long camp and blew our minds away. Over 15 Moroccan staff held the camp together like glue and provided everything anyone needed, at any time. 9 Peace Corps volunteers led workshops and games with the girls. The camp focused on empowering girls in their every day lives, but it inspired all of the staff too. The camp spotlighted workshops that focused on girl’s empowerment: Gender Roles, Self-esteem, Morocco’s Family Code Law, Goal-setting, Self-defense, Pregnancy Health, Beauty, Calligraphy, Rape Laws in Morocco, Harassment, Henna, Belly Dancing and Cinema.”
“I could go on and on with stories of all the myriad ways the girls of the camp amazed me, made me laugh, and brightened my spirits during those 4 days, but instead I’ll say only this: Never underestimate the power of a group of feisty, educated, empowered, generous, artistic, and hilarious 13-18 year old girls gathered together in one place; and always remember the power of two cultures coming together for a common purpose and a shared passion for the girls of our future.”
I could hardly say it better myself.
I think one of the things I took away in particular from the experience is that I want to step outside of the ‘English’ realm of work here in the Peace Corps. Our program places so much emphasis on using English as a catapult for other projects and ideas, but I think it’s easy to feel stuck in only doing work that pertains to teaching English. And I’m beginning to realize that I don’t find teaching English particularly gratifying or awe inspiring. In fact most of the time, I think it’s boring as hell.
The GLOW Camp provided a challenge for me in that English was not the emphasis at all, it wasn’t even really spoken. I hadn’t accounted for this when I planned the workshop on beauty that I gave with another volunteer. Luckily through the translation services of several intelligent girls, we were able to put on a successful workshop discussing how we see ourselves, societal ideas of beauty, different types of beauty, etc. We even made homemade beauty masks!
I’m thrilled that I had the opportunity to step beyond the ‘safe lines’ that is teaching English and experience something truly beautiful. And true to its nature, I even feel more empowered by my time at the GLOW Camp. More empowered to seek opportunities and pursue ideas that I find rewarding and meaningful. Funny how life works sometimes.