My name is Tom Hannam and I am a Peace Corps Volunteer based in Azrou, Morocco. My primary work is at a school for kids with special needs. I work there 4 days a week, Monday through Thursday. I teach English to two classes of kids for about 1 to 1.5 hours in the mornings from 10:30am to 11:30 or 12:00pm. On Monday’s and Wednesday’s I have my large beginners level class where much of the time is spent coloring pictures and working on worksheets I printed off from the internet. We first went over the Alphabet, spent time going over each letter including making the sounds they make and also learning how to write each letter, in both upper and lower cases. Many of the kids need practice with simple motor skills so the letters and also numbers are a great source of practice for them. I walk around the room and assist them when needed. Later subjects included shapes, colors, and animals.
The beginners level class size varies but on average is about 8-10 kids. My other class, the intermediate level, I have only two students and they are able to fully read and write. One student has a hearing impaired situation while the other may be somewhat of a neurological issue. With these two students I have used the Peace Corps Dareja textbook and just taught it backwards. We began with greetings and have since moved on to family members, locations around town, simple past and present tense verbs and now days of the week.
The center is open nearly the same time as the general schools with having 2 months or more off during the summer. During this large break, the center invites a team of Spanish medical volunteer students to perform a physical therapy clinic for 6-8 weeks every year. I volunteered my time and assisted in simple tasks with the Spanish volunteers. I helped out with most of the non-medical treatments such as helping the kids play simple games with a ball or playing matching games and other puzzle work.
Last month I was invited and took part in a Teaching of Teachers (ToT) program in Mrirt about hearing impaired and deaf communities of Mirirt and across Morocco. We learned simple words and phrases in both Moroccan and French sign. The kids and parents seemed very grateful at our attempts to educate ourselves on the issue and to teach others in the future. It was a great experience to be apart of. In May, I plan to participate in the Moroccan Special Olympics that are being held in Ifrane. I look forward to that adventure as well. I have learned a lot from these kids and hope to continue working with them for the rest of my service.