Layla from Tunisia and Samia from Morocco attended the Oleander Initiative in Hiroshima, Japan during August, 2016

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In Hiroshima, Samia and Layla created educational projects that were designed transmit the “lessons of Hiroshima” to their students.

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Layla implemented her  Origami Paper Crane Peace project when she returned to her classroom in Tunis, Tunisia.

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Layla’s students learned about the impact of the atomic bomb on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the basic principles of conflict resolution and peace education
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Layla’s lesson plan also engaged her students with art activities around the theme of Sadako and the 1,000 Paper Cranes

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Hiroshima and Disarmament themed artwork produced by Layla’s students

In Casablanca, Morocco, Samia implemented her “Peace Starts with Me” educational project

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Samia’s activity asked her students to visualize peace, first within themselves, then in their personal lives, their communities and finally around the world.

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Samia’s students then wrote their conceptions of peace on origami pinwheels, which were used to decorate their classroom.  Samia’s Oleander inspired educational activity helped students understand that peace begins with themselves and then has the possibility to spread outwards into the world.

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Ministry of Education  of Morocco

Based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback from her students, Samia wrote a proposal to the Moroccan Ministry of Education to share her Oleander inspired educational projects with other teachers in Morocco. In a short time, the Casablanca Academy Training Center granted permission and offered a large conference space for the workshop.

The unique content of the workshop that combined the lessons of Hiroshima with Peace, Conflict Resolution and Disarmament education attracted 54 teachers from throughout the Casablanca area.

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The workshop commenced with opening remarks from:

The Regional Coordinator of English at the Academy of Casablanca- Settat, Mr. Mohamed Hammani

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Abdelmajid Bouziane, The Vice Dean of the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences-Casablanca and Ray Matsumiya, Executive Director of the University of the Middle East Project
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Samia and Layla also provided overviews of their training sessions
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Over 50 teachers filled the Casablanca Academy training center space

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Layla and Samia focused on providing practical and easily implementable student activities in the teachers classrooms.

 

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One of the first activities of the workshop was based on the story of Sadako Sasaki and the 1,000 paper cranes.

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In this activity, students first work in small groups to speculate on the story that connects the pictures together.

Students then received a short story composed of jumbled, cut-up paragraphs:

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When constructed, the text conveyed the following story of Sadako and the 1,000 Paper Cranes

Sadako & Her Friends: A Peace Prayer

Sadako Sasaki was only two years old when the bomb was dropped on 6 August near her home by Misasa Bridge in Hiroshima, Japan. Sadako was blown out of the window and her mother ran out to find her, suspecting she might be dead, but she found her daughter alive. At the same time as Sadako, her parents and her brother escaped to safety, lots of other people were killed. Nearly the whole city was destroyed in seconds.

When Sadako was in Year 6 she was in a PE lesson when she suddenly fainted. She soon opened her eyes again, but everyone was very worried about her, so the next day Sadako had to see a doctor and have lots of tests. When the results were ready, Sadako’s father went to meet the doctor. It was bad news. The doctor said that Sadako had a type of cancer caused by the bomb. She was very ill and would have to go into hospital. She might only have one year to live. Sadako was confused – it had been 10 years since the bomb went off! Sadako’s parents were heartbroken. They could not bear the thought of losing Sadako. They also did not want Sadako to feel scared about going to hospital, so her mother made her a kimono – a special Japanese dress. The material had pictures of cherry tree blossom, and it helped Sadako to feel better about being away from her friends and family.

One day, Sadako’s friend Chizuko came to visit. She gave Sadako a bird made from folded gold paper. “The bird is called a crane” said Chizuko. “There is an old legend, that if you make one thousand of these, then you can make a wish.” As soon as Chizuko had said these words, Sadako knew that this was what she must do. “I will make one thousand cranes! Then maybe I will get a wish.” The two girls were excited and began folding immediately. Sadako was slow to start with, but it was not long before she could remember every fold and the pile of paper cranes began to grow.  Sadako looked everywhere for paper to make new cranes. News spread throughout the hospital about her task and patients sent her their old newspapers and wrapping paper and the nurses sent her wrappers from packets of medicines.

Every day, she tried hard to sit up enough to fold her paper but this got harder and harder, until one day she folded her last crane. Number 644. Sadako died with her family at her bedside. The cancer had killed her. Sadako’s body did not hurt any more.

At Sadako’s funeral, her parents gave out the paper cranes to her school friends. They were pleased, but felt deeply shocked and upset by Sadako’s death; it seemed so unfair. They talked to each other about how they felt, then someone had the idea of making a statue to tell people about Sadako, and all the other children who had died because of the bomb. The children agreed that this was a good idea. It was not long before school children from all over Japan were sending donations. Eventually, enough money had been raised, and a memorial statue of Sadako was put up. Sadako’s friends stood around it. They felt proud of Sadako. Written on Sadako’s statue are these words:

This is our cry, this is our prayer: To create peace in the world.

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Paper Crane created with local materials in Morocco

Following a a reading comprehension check, Samia’s students discussed the following thought questions:

  1. How do you feel about this story?
  2. Can you put yourself in the place of Sadako and describe how she felt the last minutes before her death? How she felt about herself, her family, her friends, and those who were the cause of her death?
  3. How did her friends feel?
  4. Would you react the same way as her friends did after her death?
  5. How did her family feel?
  6. Her family gave the cranes to her friends, what does this mean?
  7. How did the killer feel?
  8. What sentences would the killer pronounce?
  9. “This is our cry, This is our prayer: To create peace in the world.” This is Sadako’s friends’ message to the world. What is your message to Sadako and her friends?

The Casablanca teachers also learned how to implement a step-by – step conflict resolution exercise for their students and were also trained on the basics of student peer mediation.

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These concepts and their applicability to Moroccan classrooms elicited great excitement and discussion among the participants of the workshop

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Among the most popular activities at the workshop was a live “test run” of a peace game created by Samia.

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Workshop participants provided valuable feedback and received their own copies to implement in their classrooms.

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In Disarmament Education, the participants received the following table chronicling the effects of nuclear weapons on people and the environment through time.

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Participants then gathered to discuss each specific effect in small groups to share reactions and impressions to the terrible effects of nuclear weapons over time.

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Participants received certificates at the end of an enriching and thought provoking day

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Each Moroccan educator at the workshop taught an average of 250 students in their classrooms. With over 50 teachers in attendance, the Casablanca ELT Peace Practices Workshop has the potential to impact over 13,500 students.

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UPDATE:

One week after the conclusion of Samia and Layla’s workshop, Youssef  implemented his own peace education lesson plan in Taza.

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“AMA Peace ELT Practices Study Day organized by the Association of Moroccan Alumni in Casablanca for the Casablanca region teachers of English was, to my knowledge, the first of its kind in Morocco. Peace ELT practices issue is rarely, if ever, addressed by English Language teachers and associations in Morocco. As part of the organizing committee and a participant, I have personally learnt a lot of theoretical and practical skills to introduce peace education to my students.

The issue of “peace education” finds its importance in the current dramatic events taking place all over the world. Hatred, xenophobia, Islamophobia, racism, terrorism, ethnic and cultural conflicts are plaguing the world we live in and jeopardizing our sense of security and peace.  As educators, we believe that education is pivotal for nurturing peace, cooperation, tolerance and coexistence in the world.

The speakers (who have already had a professional training in Japan on peace education in August 2016) helped the participants to compile practical lesson plans for teaching peace practices. The participants were also given a kit and a lot of worksheets to use in their classroom activities.

As I came back to my school, I organized a workshop to my Access students on peace practices. The 24 Access students had the chance to learn about peace practices and conflict resolution skills through fun activities, like coloring and origami. At the end of the activity, students wrote peace messages on their coloring worksheets; messages that read: “I hate war, I like peace,” “Please stop war, make peace,” “Let’s share peace,” “Yes for peace, no for war,” etc. They also made a peace-dove using Origami (the art of paper folding) to express their awareness of the importance of peace.”

Youssef El Kaid, Taza

Teacher of English since 2005