Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Regional meetings and GAD

Apologies for the delay since my last post! Lots has happened over the past few weeks which I will cover in posts over the coming week or two. So, what has happened? A little bit of work and a little bit of play - So for today's blog post we'll start with the work. Just days after we finished our last English class and as some of our Baccalaureate students were sitting down to take their English exams, Justin and I set off for Azrou to attend regional meetings. Peace Corps Morocco is divided into 8 different regions, and the groups gather together once a year to discuss updates from the field, share ideas, and generally plan for the coming year. 

The regional meeting was a great opportunity for me to both learn from others and to share helpful advice and ideas. I discussed a lot of ideas for future projects in my site, and I'll be planning much more on this over the summer. For today, I wanted to talk about a new initiative that I helped to launch with Peace Corps Morocco's Gender and Development (GAD) committee and shared with volunteers during the regional meeting. For the past few months, the GAD committee has been soliciting ideas from volunteers on a yearlong gender-related theme - The idea behind this was to find a gender-related issue that a large number of volunteers might be interested in and might relate to their work, and then our committee would develop resources to help teach volunteers more about that issue and give them potential projects that they could do in their communities.

The committee gathered 7 different theme ideas from volunteers across Morocco, ranging from parental relationships, to notions of beauty, to education around health or computers. Once themes were gathered, we posted them online and asked volunteers to vote on which theme they would be most interested in. The winning theme received over a hundred votes (pretty good since we only have about 250 volunteers in country) and was developed totally by youth from Ouarzazate (a city in the south of Morocco). The youth named the theme "Pssst... I Protest! Stop Sexual Harassment."

Screenshot from the GAD website, with the winning theme

What I was so pleased about is that the winning theme came from youth themselves - So it's not just an idea that Peace Corps is pushing on a community, but rather an issue that youth feel is both pressing and important. During regional meetings, the GAD committee presented a short one-sheeter to educate volunteers about the context of sexual harassment in Morocco and gave them some simple discussion questions in both English and Arabic (developed by the youth from Ouarzazate) that volunteers could use to help start one-on-one discussions in their site. Over the coming months, the GAD committee will develop a toolkit of projects related to sexual harassment that volunteers can do in their sites. 

So that's the highlight from our regional meetings. Right after the meetings ended, Justin and I headed to Casablanca to meet... MY PARENTS! More in the next post :)

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