Break Aleg, Amanda

of how my GMC opening went, which probably from an outsider’s perspective, went alright, but since this is my blog, and I’m feeling very honest, I’m going to give you the total raw inside scoop of everything I really felt.

Hands down, this was probably one of the scariest things I’ve done in my entire life. #1, I have never opened or been in charge of anything in my entire life, not in the least as big as a center for girl’s education. (that is probably why I kept turning to zeinabou for answers—which probably caught her off guard). #2, let’s keep in mind where I am, what language I don’t really speak, and what culture and religion I don’t really know. The important thing to tell myself is there is a first time for everything, and you learn and get better only the more you do something, and of course the first time is going to be so incredibly nerve racking. But you have to remember, if you don’t let yourself get down, and keep persevering, you will get better. I just have to follow through by putting together some awesome programs to show that the opening doesn’t reflect everything the center has to offer. I am honestly going to try my hardest to create the best center, and I feel like I owe to it to this community, for letting me, a complete stranger, use their facilities, talk to their girls, and cast an influence on girls ed in Aleg and RIM.

Alright, my biggest critique was organization. I definitely could have planned the session better. I should have had more complete clear questions that I practiced with Zeinabou ahead of time. I think I planned to have questions, just never got around to finding them, or found them and then forgot them, or some other stupid reason that is entirely my fault and could have been avoided. Other than that, I wish I would have been there at 4pm sharp, ready to go. How embarrassing was it that the director of the lycee was already there at four. Someone in Peace Corps once told me, no matter how late Mauritanians are, you, you always have to be on time. I think the reason I slipped up on this so badly today was because I was with Zeinabou and I felt like, I should follow her lead. Her lead was the late lead, which I realized was not a good one to follow. It’s so hard when you think because she is Mauritanian she knows best, but I also have to remember I am older than her and also do have my own good insight. So at 5pm, after waiting about 45 minutes for people to arrive, I decided to take charge, and start the opening which was scheduled to start at 4pm. However, I don’t even feel like I did that right, because, then, people showed up even later, which I knew would happen. But, there were even people who showed even after it had ended. Ugh, I just don’t know what to think, was that good or bad, my fault or theirs, because here, my logic, or my sense of what is wrong and right, really has no basis because this isn’t the culture I grew up in, right and wrong here could be wrong and right. And like I said, my counterpart knows more than me, so I followed her lead. Ugh, I definitely feel so frazzled and in a bit of daze.

Overall, I think I covered the important questions and got many relevant answers. For example, math, French, English and science are the hardest subjects. The director of the lycee thought many students do not succeed well in computers and physics because they are taught in French or English mainly. The girls want to work with a journalist in town which is a really cool idea. There was one girl who stood up to speak to give her opinion who I think is probably going to be a great asset to the center because #1 she had lost her voice, and still stood up and spoke #2 she did this in front of all male teachers and the director and all the other girls and #3 what she said had a lot of substance. I also gave a short speech in Hassaniya which surprisingly wasn’t as difficult as I had expected. Zeinabou did great overall, and the whole session would have not even come together had it not been for her. All the teachers who were present stood up and spoke as did the director. Drinks and muffins were a good idea. However, not a single parent showed up, which was a shame since the invitations were for the parents and not even the girls.  Anyway….

I guess what I could have done was asked Joel or Chelsea, the two other second year GEE volunteers in my region for advice. Damn, why am I only thinking about that now. Well, what’s done is done, like I said, now I begin programming, which is really the meat of this operation. Wish me luck. Lots of it.


5 Responses to “Break Aleg, Amanda”

  1. Desiree Says:

    that’s awesome amanda, heck yeah best of luck! if you ever need to bounce off ideas on anyone – I’m here! can’t wait to here what kind of programs youre gonna start out w… maybe i’ll do some brainstorming too for ya.


  2. americaninparis42 Says:

    You should be incredibly proud of yourself. As much as you can criticize what you could have done, the fact that you were even able to stand up in front of an audience of a different language and culture is amazing and probably not something you could have done a few months ago. Kudos. Everything else will come, but right now it is too high of an expectation to be able to anticipate everything. The first time I taught to my French students I wish there were things I did differently. Also some thing I did worked for some kids but not for others, so it’s a big trial and error processes. Even though it is not going to come easily you will get the hang of it, and there is no doubt that you are going to do amazing things. It sounds like you learned a lot from this and you are a little closer to doing what you need to do. I can’t wait to read about your successes, so make sure to post them as they come along.

    And please come to Paris!!! My job contract ends the end of June so I’m not sure what my plans are after that, but if you have time before that please come! Let me know! Much love!

  3. P. Harper Dillon Says:


    Fabulous. Think of it all as stretching in yoga. Young birds flying far from the nest . . .

    There is a good wind at your back.

    Recently I saw a program on either BBC or CNN about a woman in Nigeria who has a writing project for young girls, I’m trying to find the reference, I think it would be great for you to check out. She is working with Islamic girls under pressure from Shariah judges but goes on. I’ll find the ref and send it to you.

    As in yoga, remember to yield into the stretch, you know.


  4. Elana Says:

    Amanda you are doing wonderfully, believe in yourself, know that you are talented and smart and that things will work out in the end and you will figure them out eventually. No one gets it right the first time. Much love my African sister 🙂

  5. Dwight Says:

    You’re beginning something so completely different, huge, and in a culture and language out of your comfort zone. YOu are supposed to be feeling this disassembled. Imagine the amount of growth you are going to go through once you have the ball rolling and under control. However hard it might be, remember that being the worst of situations, arise the best. To be truly successful at anything you do means having faith in the worst of times. It’s time to do the Amanda thing and show them how amazing you can do things. Whenever you want to get in touch, I’m here to support you. I love you majorly.


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