It was Wednesday, a few weeks ago, and I saw that I had a message from one of our counterparts, Abdessamad. He and his friend, (another of our counterparts) Hamza, would be involved in a public speaking competition, and they wanted to know if Michelle and I would be on the committee. Of course the answer was yes; we’re in Peace Corps to help how and when we can, often when we know nothing about what we’re agreeing to help with. (Also, it would be embarrassing if the public speaking teacher at the dar chebab didn’t help with a public speaking competition) After agreeing to help we found out that it would take place Saturday morning from 9 – 12 at the dar chebab. Michelle and I would be judges for the English public speeches. That’s all of the information we were given.
So Michelle and I arrived at the dar chebab at 9:00 AM, went into the auditorium, greeted the people we knew, and were shown to our seats at a table on the stage. Then we waited. And waited some more.And then we waited a little bit longer. I think the actual competition finally began sometime around 10:30 AM. Patience is a virtue, especially for Peace Corps volunteers.
There were three language categories for speeches: Arabic, French, and English. There were 5 participants in Arabic, 4 in French, and 4 in English. There were 2 local French teachers to judge, 2 Arabic teachers, and then Michelle and I to judge English.
It turns out that this competition was a part of a larger series of youth competitions celebrating Moroccan Independence Day and the Green March. Do a search for more information on the history of these two, it’s quite interesting. The latter can be a sensitive topic, and I will refrain from comment on it here. These two celebrations fall within 12 days of each other and so were concurrently commemorated with these competitions.
Needless to say, I understood almost none of the Arabic and French speeches, but my assumption is that they were about the Green March and Independence Day.
Finally it was time for the English speeches, and each of the 4 speakers did great. 3 of the 4 English participants are our counterparts, 2 of these 3 are Hamza and Abdessamad, the third is named Muhammed. All 3 of these guys have studied English and 2 are recent graduates from university. The fourth participant was a young lady named Rim who is only 13 years old. She closely rivaled the older university graduates; she was fantastic! The time soon came for Michelle and I to tally the results and Abdessamad came out on top, as the winner. Congratulations to Abdessamad, and to all of the participants. They clearly worked hard and did well.
Following the announcement of the winners there was much patriotic flag waving.
Read the next post, coming soon, to find out about the clowns that came later in the day.