and Living in Morocco
Campbell from Michigan
currently serves as Executive Associate Director
for the Center for Language Education and Research
(CLEAR) at Michigan State University and also is an
instructor in MSU's English Language Center. She
lives in Lansing, Michigan with her husband Kyle,
whom she met in Morocco.
1998-2000, I lived in a small town in southeast
Morocco, teaching English in a community youth
center with the Peace Corps.
Joy and Moroccan students in the "dar
center was called a "dar chebab" (house of
youth), and offered a variety of activities for
both boys and girls, including a chess club, some
sports equipment, and my free English classes.
I came to realize through the ups and downs of
trying to organize classes, recruit students, and
retain them for extra after school sessions, the
Peace Corps experience isn't always what you
expected when you ventured out of the United States
and off into the world.
I had taught in France previously, I had a
schedule, a supervisor, and staff meetings. Morocco
taught me tolerance of ambiguity, and the
incredible importance of flexibility and a
well-developed sense of humor.
experiences I had and friendships I developed with
Moroccans were, in the long run, to have a larger
impact on me than my actual hours in the classroom.
that end, following are some of my journal entries
from those two years, to give you a glimpse into my
teaching and cross-cultural experiences.
(The first time I saw my site) Hot. That's
pretty much the word that comes to mind right now.
Yesterday it was so hot I couldn't even write about
I'm in an oven. The wind blows with
the force of a thousand hair dryers. Rich (the name
of my town, pronounced Reesh) is red. And brown.
And dusty ochre. And just plain dusty.
striking view of clouds over Imilchil
Got invited to a home today! Much of the time
was spent laughing hysterically at my
mispronunciation of Arabic letters (never mind
And couscous - good Lord, what a
sort of take some veggies or meat and mush couscous
around it until you have a ball, which you pop into
you mouth. Theoretically. Much of the couscous
actually wound up in a trail between the common
dish and my lap, where more if it landed before I
got it in my mouth.
Language was pretty crazy today. I'm beginning
to wonder what possessed them to have me learn
Berber when my predecessors spoke Arabic. Lots of
crazy mixing and matching todayArabic,
Berber, French, English. Frequently in the same
Yaughheww! I just had a cockroach crawl up my back
as I was falling asleep! Aaargh blech! First order
of business tomorrow: roach powder. (Later) I spent
the rest of the night tossing and turning, hoping
he didn't have bereaved family members about to
mount an attack to avenge his cruel and untimely
death-by-hiking-boot. He didn't, as it turns
(When classes finally began) So, classes
kids are enthusiastic. Lots of hand-waving and
"Teacher! Teacher!" calling. I despair of ever
getting them to call me Joy.
are going pretty well. I consistently have 20-25
first year students, and second year has been
growing steadily. From 9 I'm at 18 now, from one
girl to eleven!
teaching a class of enthusiastic
In general, the students seem to be motivated
(otherwise why would they come to class after
school?), and their enthusiasm shows in their
"Teacher, Teacher"calling and hand waving. In
fact, I'm surprised by how young they seem. For the
most part they're fifteen or sixteen, but I
definitely don't remember acting like they do when
I was a sophomore. They seem like more of a junior
high level as far as maturity, but then that makes
them more willing to take risks, too, so it may
wind up being an advantage.
Sandy and Thomas Peters -