Wednesday was an amazing day. A day full of possibilities and adventure for the HAF Interns we have been training, as well as for our professional staff. The training was. The High Atlas Foundation’s MEPI program in Mohammadia had its first large scale – 65 people – meeting and training (held in the main auditorium of the University of Hassan II with full approval of the Dean) in Community Development with both students and a number of Community Service Organization (CSO). The latter were represented by the presidents of several your association.
The training, with lunch provided was supposed to start at 11:30. I started getting nervous when 12:30 rolled around and we only had 5 students and large amount of food had arrived! But as if by magic by 12:45 or so the room was packed! The students from the various faculties – law Science, and Technology came in groups in quick succession. It was wonderful to see so many eager faces. Food was distributed and the Vice Dean – Dr. Salim OURYAGHLI — was sent for as he had expressed a wish to address the student and CSO before the training got on the way.
Dr Salim OURYAGHLI gave a rousing speech, short, but to the point and powerful. He encouraged the audience to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity that HAF/MEPI was offering them. An opportunity that would help them themselves and their communities to reach new heights in community participation and the development of helpful projects the community would choose. He emphasized that the mastering of the techniques that would be taught to them by HAF would in fact be good for all of Morocco. The audience gave him a strong ovation before he retired to his office to his extremely busy schedule. HAF was honored that he had taken timeout of that very busy schedule to talk to the congregated students and CSOs.
Next the HAF Interns (HAFI), introduced themselves: their names, the places of origin, by explaining their place in the PD process, and how they hoped to assist those in the audience to begin to learn the same process. Ms. Malika Kassi, who conducted the training for this session, introduced herself and had me introduce myself, and then explained what she was going to do for the remainder of the session.
Handouts were given to each member of the audience, in either Arabic or French according to their personal preference. The handouts delineated the PD mission and process, and were clearly stamped as a MEPI.
The audience was asked to stand and Ms. Kassi led them in an icebreaker: She would call out a world and each individual had to pantomime what the world meant to them. For example when she called out the word “peace” many participants held up their fingers in a victory sign, some hugged another person, etc. After the Icebreaker the audience was divided into four groups and the training began in earnest. Each group was staffed by a HFAI who assisted them through the first exercise, under the direction of Ms. Kassi, and which consisted of defining a communities and subsequently mapping them. The chosen “community” for the sake of this training was the University Hassan II itself. The students identified what they would like to see improved and created maps that reflected their impressions of the university.
For almost an hour the groups poured over their definitions and maps, then each group choose a representative to explain their conclusions to the other groups.
Because of time constrains, both by having had started so much later than the designated time, and because more than half of the students had to leave for a class, the training was stopped at that point. Evaluation forms were handed out and those that stayed completed theirs and the students that had to leave for class gave their word that they would return the complete forms to the HAF Training Center.
Before any of the students left for class, a date was set for the next training session, Wednesday, December 26, from 11:30 to 2:00pm with lunch again being provided. The audience enthusiastically endorsed their willingness to come to the next training on that date.
The HAFI have been asked to provide a full report of the training, pros and cons. Those reports will be combined and posted here also.