Benan Grams

Benan Grams (Ain Leuh Weavers Cooperative): Benan is a Syrian national, fluent in Arabic, English, and German. Benan earned a BA degree in International Business at the Georg-Simon-ohm University for Applied Sciences in 2010, followed by a Master's Degree in Development Economics and International Studies from the Friedrich Alexander University in Germany in 2012. At the time of her fellowship Benan was studying for a Master’s Degree at the Arab Studies program, Georgetown University. After her fellowship, Benan wrote: "The ladies are great. Not only are they hard-working women but they are also open to new suggestions and adjustments. We had fun working together especially in shooting the pictures to make the catalog, even children and participating and helping. They have a lively working environment here."

Snapshots of life in Ain Leuh Part 2, Moroccan-American Rugby game, French training under the Weavers’ Cooperative coordination

01 Aug

We are not alone Part 2
Calm-busy Ain Leuh

Moroccan-American Rugby game, French training under the Weavers’ Cooperative coordination

Lakeside Students at the weavers' cooperative of Ain Leuh

The other group that spoiled the tranquility of Ain Leuh was a group of students of the Lakeside School in Seattle-Washington which runs the Lakeside Global Service Learning (GLS). Not only did the group shake the silence of the village, it also broke the routine of our cooperative.

In coordination with the leadership of the group we organized an Info-visit to the cooperative. This visit fits in the overall program of the GLS. On GLS Morocco trip, students learn some Arabic and Berber basics. They engage with families and work on service projects with local people. They learn about Islam and Moroccan issues and contribute to the community of a small Berber village in the Atlas Mountains “Tfesselt” not far away from our village Ain Leuh.

Students attentively watching, posing questions and listening

The students listened to our presentation about the work of the cooperative, its history, the meaning of its existence. They posed questions about the techniques used and the significance of the woven designs. They were fascinated by the amount of time and efforts necessary to finish one beautiful piece of rug. Students loved the products and were astonished by the low prices for which these products were sold. The great significance of the work, the beauty of the products and their low prices encouraged students to buy their gifts from our cooperative.

Info visit by Lakeside students to Ain Leuh Cooperative

The order that the Lakeside school placed at our cooperative kept the weavers intensively busy for a complete week. While students could afford small items such as wallets, purses, handbags and belts, leaders of the groups chose to buy rather larger sophisticated items such as the famous Hanbel of the Atlas Mountains with its various colors and designs. Our Cooperative has greatly profited from this visit and the bad month of May and June were compensated by the month July and its revenues.

Students are interested in the cooperative small items

Interaction between the cooperative and Ain Leuh visitors was not restricted to commercial interaction. The cooperative was a meeting place of intercultural interaction and exchange between the various international groups and local youth in Ain Leuh. We organized a spontaneous introductory rugby game between our new American friends, we were able to  play slotzo games, Moroccan educators under the leadership and supervision of the French trainer of “Terres en Melees” (see blog part 1). The rugby match was a great success, a lot of fun for all engaged parties.


A week later, the order was finished and the products were ready to be picked up. Khadija, Mohammed and I were invited to Tfesselt to say goodbye to our young friends. They were sincerely excited about their experience in Ain Leuh and they were happy to have contributed to our work at the weavers’ cooperative of Ain Leuh.

Solidarity between American and Moroccan youth

Discipline for the rugby game

Again, our cooperative rose as a place for culture preservation and intercultural exchange. We thank both the team of Terre en Melee and the students of Lakeside school and we hope to see you, your teams and your new members at our cooperative next year.

Posted By Benan Grams

Posted Aug 1st, 2013

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