Kenza Elazkem

Kenza Elazkem was born and raised in Marrakech, Morocco. She later moved to the United States to finish high school and pursue a degree in Political Science at the University of Texas in San Antonio. During her undergraduate studies, she participated in an exchange program at Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea. Kenza's interest for development started then. After completing her degree, Kenza joined the Carter Center for an internship in the field of democracy and election observation. She is currently pursuing a dual master's degree in International and Sustainable development between Hankuk University for Foreign Studies in South Korea, and the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica. Kenza taught English at a rural primary school in Costa Rica and also joined a women's Capoeira collective. She is eager to learn more about the world and enjoys cooking, traveling and sharing. After the fellowship, she wrote: "The best aspect of the fellowship was to see the process of carpet making and sharing meals with the women's families. Through the fellowship, I have learned the NGO jargon in Arabic. I am also more aware of my surroundings and pay more attention to detail now." Contact: kelazkem@advocacynet.org



Kenza F’Douar

23 Jun

About two weeks ago, I was in Washington DC for the Advocacy Project fellowship 2015 training. We were a group of students going on summer fellowships in countries as diverse as Nepal, Bosnia or Uganda. I will be spending ten weeks this summer in a village called Ain Leuh in the Middle-Atlas mountains of Morocco working with cooperative of women carpet weavers to develop their business and set up a cultural center. During my stay in DC, I was able to meet with Silvia, who was in Morocco last year as a fellow for the Advocacy Project. As we started talking, Silvia asked me if I had seen a Moroccan sit-com from last year called Kenza f’douar (Kenza in the country side). We immediately started laughing. The sit-com was a comedy depicting the life of a woman named Kenza in a village where she was sent from the city to gather signatures for a petition. The show tried to highlight the striking differences between her lifestyle in the city and that of the people in the village. Her daily interactions with the local people put her in, sometimes, very funny situations. And, of course, some of it was exaggerated but I can see myself in some of the situations she found herself in.

So here I am now, on the plane, heading to Morocco. As I am from the country, I will first stop by Marrakech to see my family and head on to Ain Leuh to start my fellowship. I am excited for what is to come this summer but I also have to admit that I am a bit scared. There are a couple reasons for that. Yes, I have previously lived in three foreign countries, on three different continents where I had no problem communicating and living with the locals. After all, I am from here and this should be easy, I speak the language, I know the customs and the country fairly well. However, I have never been to the region of Ain Leuh. Even though Morocco is a relatively small country, regional differences can be considerable at times and having lived abroad for so many years does not help. There must be several things I do on a daily basis that have become normal for me and that might seem odd to my hosts. At the same time, there are also many Moroccan habits and ways that I am not used to anymore. Every time I go back to Morocco for a visit, I tend to notice these changes in myself and it will be even more interesting in an environment where I do not necessarily know the people and vice versa. It will also be interesting to see how the locals perceive me as a Moroccan, from the city, and who has had the privilege to study abroad and is coming back to learn from them and share what I have learned through my academic career. I am afraid of saying or doing something that might offend the people. I will have to think carefully of everything I say or do as I do not want to come off as rude or careless.

I am also afraid of not performing well. Going through the training process in D.C. Definitely helped. However, I have to meet with the women of the cooperative and discuss with them what they are expecting of me. This is exactly why I chose to apply to be a peace fellow with the Advocacy Project. The program does development work differently from the major agencies. It does not impose any development discourse on its partners but seeks to provide exactly what they need through a dialogue. In fact, during the training, we have learned about different services we can provide during our fellowship, however we were told to first discuss with the partners exactly what they would like from us. This new way of thinking in development gives more power to the partners in owning and deciding their path towards a better future. I am very much excited to part of this and I hope that, by the end of my ten weeks in Ain Leuh, I will have served my community-based organization well.

I am now three days away from the start of my fellowship and I can’t wait to meet the women that I will be spending the summer with and I hope my life there does not resemble that of Kenza in the sitcom so much. I am looking forward to learning from the women and sharing with them what I have learned throughout my academic career.[content-builder]{“id”:1,”version”:”1.0.4″,”nextId”:”1″,”block”:”root”,”layout”:”12″,”childs”:[{“id”:”2″,”block”:”rte”,”content”:”About two weeks ago, I was in Washington DC for the Advocacy Project fellowship 2015 training. We were a group of students going on summer fellowships in countries as diverse as Nepal, Bosnia or Uganda. I will be spending ten weeks this summer in a village called Ain Leuh in the Middle-Atlas mountains of Morocco working with cooperative of women carpet weavers to develop their business and set up a cultural center. During my stay in DC, I was able to meet with Silvia, who was in Morocco last year as a fellow for the Advocacy Project. As we started talking, Silvia asked me if I had seen a Moroccan sit-com from last year called Kenza f’douar (Kenza in the country side). We immediately started laughing. The sit-com was a comedy depicting the life of a woman named Kenza in a village where she was sent from the city to gather signatures for a petition. The show tried to highlight the striking differences between her lifestyle in the city and that of the people in the village. Her daily interactions with the local people put her in, sometimes, very funny situations. And, of course, some of it was exaggerated but I can see myself in some of the situations she found herself in.<\/span>\r\n\r\nSo here I am now, on the plane, heading to Morocco. As I am from the country, I will first stop by Marrakech to see my family and head on to Ain Leuh to start my fellowship. I am excited for what is to come this summer but I also have to admit that I am a bit scared. There are a couple reasons for that. Yes, I have previously lived in three foreign countries, on three different continents where I had no problem communicating and living with the locals. After all, I am from here and this should be easy, I speak the language, I know the customs and the country fairly well. However, I have never been to the region of Ain Leuh. Even though Morocco is a relatively small country, regional differences can be considerable at times and having lived abroad for so many years does not help. There must be several things I do on a daily basis that have become normal for me and that might seem odd to my hosts. At the same time, there are also many Moroccan habits and ways that I am not used to anymore. Every time I go back to Morocco for a visit, I tend to notice these changes in myself and it will be even more interesting in an environment where I do not necessarily know the people and vice versa. It will also be interesting to see how the locals perceive me as a Moroccan, from the city, and who has had the privilege to study abroad and is coming back to learn from them and share what I have learned through my academic career. I am afraid of saying or doing something that might offend the people. I will have to think carefully of everything I say or do as I do not want to come off as rude or careless.<\/span>\r\n\r\nI am also afraid of not performing well. Going through the training process in D.C. Definitely helped. However, I have to meet with the women of the cooperative and discuss with them what they are expecting of me. This is exactly why I chose to apply to be a peace fellow with the Advocacy Project. The program does development work differently from the major agencies. It does not impose any development discourse on its partners but seeks to provide exactly what they need through a dialogue. In fact, during the training, we have learned about different services we can provide during our fellowship, however we were told to first discuss with the partners exactly what they would like from us. This new way of thinking in development gives more power to the partners in owning and deciding their path towards a better future. I am very much excited to part of this and I hope that, by the end of my ten weeks in Ain Leuh, I will have served my community-based organization well.<\/span>\r\n\r\nI am now three days away from the start of my fellowship and I can’t wait to meet the women that I will be spending the summer with and I hope my life there does not resemble that of Kenza in the sitcom so much. I am looking forward to learning from the women and sharing with them what I have learned throughout my academic career.<\/span>“}]}[/content-builder]

Posted By Kenza Elazkem

Posted Jun 23rd, 2015

226 Comments

  • Annika

    June 25, 2015

     

    Kenza, thanks for highlighting AP’s approach to development work and how you see it as different from some of the larger-scale development agencies. I am also so inspired by the individual, contextually-based, partner-designed and partner-led nature of AP’s cooperative work. Hopefully, engaging in these mutually benefiting relationships can enrich both partners: AP’s Peace Fellows as well as its CBO partners. As you begin your fellowship, I can’t wait to hear more about your day-to-day work with Ain Leuh and how the region compares to where you have lived!

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