CBT: Community Based Training
(written somewhere around mid-February, 2015)
We’re somewhere in the middle of CBT, approximately 9-10 weeks living with a Moroccan family in a village/town/community in Northern Morocco. In addition to my wife and myself, there are three other trainees with us in town, each with their own host family. We get up each morning to head to class at the apartment of our LCF (language and culture facilitator, aka Darija teacher, aka the person that teaches us how to actually survive in Morocco). We have class for 4 hours before heading back to our host families at around 12:30 for lunch. At around 2 PM we all converge at our teacher’s home, once again, for more class, ultimately departing sometime near 6 or 6:30. Then back to our individual homes for the evening and night. This is our regular daily schedule (outside of a half day off on Saturday and all day on Sunday) except when we’re not working with the town youth.
Where do you go to find the youth? The town’s dar chebab, of course! (dar=house, chebab=youth; therefore youth house). This is the government-run youth center of the town; our town has 2. The one where we work is a nice 2-story building with varying numbers of youth depending on the day/week.
Our first experience at the dar chebab was to simply observe activities being conducted by the PCVs (peace corps volunteers) that work there. Upon our arrival, we entered into a pretty competitive game of musical chairs. The PCV’s regularly teach classes (English classes, Spanish classes, and others) as well as lead the youth in games and activities (not just musical chairs).
Our task was to get a feel for how they ran things, so that we could begin to jump in on our own over the next few day/weeks. The very next week, in fact, we had a room of 20-25 youth create community maps (see community mapping post). Keep in mind that we only have limited language skills at this point, so we rely heavily on assistance and translation from anyone capable. Just the other week we were tasked with running a “camp” for the youth. This was to be half days (2 mornings, 3 afternoons), except that peace corps meetings/interviews interfered and cut it down somewhat. It was a fun, but challenging (and exhausting) week. (See posts on camp week part 1 & part 2 for more)
We were permitted to leave our CBT sites (on our own for the first time) after the final morning of camp (the spectac). A quiet day and a half after that, 50 PCTs (peace corps trainees) met for three days of training and meetings. Then, finally, we arrived back in our CBT site. It’s colder here than any of the other places we had visited in the previous 5 days. No more heated hotel room, jackets are back in, but the cold still pierces to the core (and every extremity). It was, however, very good to be back to where we currently call home.