Face-off: An American Language Center Tradition

For the past few years, ten of the American Language Centers here in Morocco have gotten together for their annual event called “Face-Off”. Originally a competition between a few centers, it has recently blossomed to include almost all of them. The centers that participated were Oujda, Tangier, Marrakech, Meknes, Kenitra, El Jadida, Fes, Rabat, Casablanca, and Mohammedia.

At the beginning of our teaching year, we were told that this would be a massive event of both academic and performing arts competitions. The preparations were intense but the event did not disappoint. I had volunteered to take photographs, so I spent the majority of my time floating around and observing the different performances, games, workshops, and booths. Here is a recap of the two-day event.


Debate Semi-Finals/ Final

While the ALC Mohammedia (my center), didn’t make the finals for public speaking or debate, it was our center that hosted the finals. I hadn’t gone to the regional competition, so I was excited to see the debate, especially since one of the other teachers that had come with CIEE Teach Morocco was over in Kenitra and she was the advisor for their debate team.

Held in room six, also known as the DC room, we sat and watched as ALC Kenitra and ALC Rabat debated the topic “online organizations should be required to provide the means for individuals to identify personal material online and delete them”.

Judged by peace corps volunteers, the debate was an impressive display of the students’ language abilities. I certainly couldn’t do that in Spanish.

ALC Kenitra vs. ALC Rabat

The winner was ALC Rabat. They would go on to compete against ALC Fes and ultimatley win.

Public Speaking Competition 

I was wowed. There were two speakers that I absolutely loved. The speaker from ALC Casa was amazing. She changed the pacing and tone of her speech to weave a compelling tale. The title of her speech, “The Way You See Me Has Nothing to Do With Me”, was a great explanation of the biases that we carry with us and which ultimately shade how we see others and how we, the people being “seen”, shouldn’t take it personally because it really has NOTHING to do with us.

The third speaker, from ALC Meknes, gave a speech about the power of words. I loved it! Her arguments for using words moved me to tears.

All four speakers were wonderful, but speaker two and three were absolutely marvelous.  Pictured above on the left is the Casa speaker (who won), and on the left are the peace corps judges.


Table Displays

Each ALC created their own booth. Ours featured an academic display, photos from staff and community events, as well as a bake sale and mini table games. Other ALCs also displayed work from their community clubs and some even sold merchandise (there was a really cute bag that I should have bought).


Shortly after 9:30am one of the American teachers, Mary, was tasked with starting up the soccer game. I joined her for moral support. We gathered the troops, met the referee, threw the ball and stood back the watch the magic that is soccer.

ALC Fes had an activity tent near the field and all day long I watched as they led games: marshmallows from a string, hula hooping, tug of war, and many others.

Nearby was the “activity tent” where ALC Mohammedia and ALC Tangier were hosting activities. Two of our teachers, Josie and Sarah, led science and art activities. One of the science club members really wanted to make a volcano, so I had the honor of catching it all on camera.

CIEE also hosted a floor hockey game. After our staff league, I was more than happy to purely observe and document the event.


One of our teachers hosted a drum workshop. Initially located next to the activity tent, we were asked to move due to our noise (whoops). I thought that I had rhythm, but compared to the pros, I sounded like an off-beat two-year-old.


Throughout the day, each center had a fifteen-minute window where they could perform. There were some great performances, some questionably appropriate dance moves, and some epic group dance routines. At the end of the day, it was just such a blast to see the students having so much fun on stage.

Our dance team performed to “All About That Bass”. They were the youngest performers by far, and their dance was so cute! Music club also performed original pieces. Other centers performed musical mashups such as “One Last Kiss” from Bye Bye Birdie (ALC Fes) and “Revolting Children” from the musical Matilda (ALC Oujda).

The crowd loved every piece. ALC Oujda was up first and they got the crowd grooving to the beat before their drama club performed. We also had a special guest singer, Corina Kwami (pictured below on the far right). She performed several classic jazz pieces.

Closing Thoughts

Overall it was a really fun day! I got to meet teachers and students from all over Morocco and my arms got a nice tan.

It was a lot of work, but totally worth it!

To end this post I had to include a photo of our academic table display. Elizabeth, our VP of our academic committee, had the genius idea of decorating the boards with shapes to mirror classroom activities. Absolutely brilliant. Fun fact: these wooden tri-folds were made special for this event because we couldn’t find any. Oh, the struggles of trying to craft without a craft store.

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