Sanna Saida – Happy New Year!
2014 was a monumental year at the American Language Center, and 2015 is poised to be even better.
To start with, we celebrated our 30th year in Tetouan. The ALC opened its doors to its first students in 1984 as an annex of the ALC in Tangiers. In the 30 years of our existence, we have had yesterday’s students grow up and send their children to our center to learn English. We appreciate all those wo have grown up with us here in Tetouan, and look forward to many more generations of families coming to the ALC.
As a self-funding non-profit, we desire to make an impact in our community. To help all the citizens of Tetouan. We provide a valuable service to our community by providing high-quality English language courses with both native and near-native English speakers. However, we do more than just give English lessons.
In 2014 we partnered with Pennsylvania State University in the USA to pilot a Girls Club for high school students from villages surrounding Tetouan. The Delegation granted us permission to host 2 days a week of special training courses for over three-dozen girls. We taught English, life management skills, entrepreneurship, and a host of other life-impacting things for free. This year, we have expanded the program to include drama and computer literacy in addition to the curriculum we has last year, plus we have more time with this girls than we did last year. We are grateful for our Girls Club leader, Nylah Holt, and the volunteers that help make this program successful. For more information on how you can get involved in this program, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another event we started last year was the Fulbright Talks Series. Morocco has a lot of Fulbright scholars, both Moroccan and American. Many of them live in and around Tetouan. For Moroccan Fulbrighters, they can offer Moroccans insight into America in ways Americans just cannot do. Media and movies do not always portray America as it really is, and especially in a lot of the mundane, day-to-day things we do. So, the Fulbright Talks are in Darija, and open to the general public. It is a wonderful way for Moroccans to learn what life is like in the USA from a Moroccan perspective. We are very pleased to have this series for the people of Tetouan.
TESOL International is the professional association for educators who teach English as a second of foreign language. In 2014 the convention was in Portland, Oregon. While attending, I had the privilege to give presentations to the Mercer Island Rotary Club, as well as the Lake Oswego Rotary Club. In all, there were over 200 people who learned about Tetouan, Morocco, and the work that the American Cultural Association does here. In 2015, the convention will be in Toronto, Canada, and I am working on giving even more presentations this time.
In 2014 we started providing FREE, facilitated, online university courses through the US State Department’s MOOC Camp program. The first course we offered was a freshman English course from Duke University. Duke University is one of the top universities in the USA. The courses are the same you taken by university students in the United States. Successful completion of the MOOC Camp course earns a joint certificate from the US Embassy in Rabat and the ALC in Tetouan. We are proud of each person who finished the very demanding course. Since that first course, we have had others.
Starting next week, we will offer FREE, specially designed teacher training through the University of Oregon and funded by the US State Department. We are very happy to have the support of the Regional Delegate of the Moroccan Ministry of Education in promoting and encouraging public school teachers to take this course. We are convinced that this course will ultimately help students in the classroom learn English better.
Our staff has had some major changes over the past year. Two notable changes were Zach moving to the ALC in Marrakech, and Sofia leaving for the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota on a Fulbright scholarship. We also boosted our native English speaking teaching staff to 6. In the 30 years in Tetouan, the ALC has never had so many native English speaking teachers.
Not to be forgotten, we started a free community “friendship table” on Mondays where members of the community can come and meet an American in a casual setting. Each Monday features a different American. It is the perfect place to come practice English and ask questions you may want to know about America. Similar to friendship table, are periodic special meetings between Moroccans and English speaking foreigners. In the summer, for example, a group of students from Pennsylvania State University spent a day with our students promoting friendship and better understanding between Americans and Moroccans. These are very successful, and we plan to have more in 2015!
Finally, we have participated in a number of forums, conferences, and events in Tetouan, and Morocco. We have been able to bring in specialists to talk to our students, and community. We had doctors, writers, civil servants, business leaders, diplomats, and community activists come give presentations at our center, ENSA Tetouan, and the Pilar Spanish High School. We are particularly excited about our collaboration with the Club de Doctorants at the University of Abdelmalik Essaidi. For students studying science in Tetouan, we brought in a speaker from Boston University doing his PhD research in photonics, and then we closed out the year with a presentation at their conference on entrepreneurship on December 31st.
2014 was truly a very busy year of service and growth. It would be an understatement to say that we are excited about the projects we have planned for 2015, but we are. Be on the lookout for new events, and projects in the upcoming year, and please contact us for more information.
May you have a safe and prosperous New Year filled with love, joy, happiness, and peace.