Summer Camp Experiences: Imane Lechheb

"Some life experiences are akin to roller coasters, and the Olive Writers’ Summer Camp is definitely one of these."

Besides its being one of the pioneering initiatives, if not the only one, when it comes to honing the writing skills of aspiring young writers, the camp is an unparalleled opportunity to expand one’s social network and meet like-minded youth from all over Morocco. That was the initial impression I formed of the camp before even setting foot in Casablanca. But the experience proved to be much more than just a gathering of young writers. Since day one, I could sense an intense enthusiasm wafting through the air, and excitement gradually brewing amongst us. But what utterly astounded me was the heart-warming welcome we received from the staff, and the dedicated professionalism they exhibited throughout the entire experience.

Indeed, if there is one thing I still retain from the camp is the feeling of pride mingled with sanguinity and optimism at seeing young Moroccans orchestrating such an impactful event and seeing it through to its end with such success. Hiba Bikisse was the first one to give us a foretaste of what was to come. Her remarkable skills of communication and constant availability made the camp an easy ride, for she was always there to solve whatever problems we faced. Her joviality and outgoing character brought her closer to us more as a friend than a communications officer. Next comes the conductor of the orchestra or the puppeteer Mohamed El Wahabi from whose fertile mind the idea of the Olive Writers flourished. Though he pulled the strings of the camp invisibly, he was always present to ensure that his orchestra did not play a false tune, and the success of the camp is but a sign that the orchestra, indeed, played well. And one cannot reminisce about the camp without thinking of the person who captured our laughs and tears, our moments of joy and poignancy, Kenza Beladel. Although she is absent from most of the pictures she took, her shadow still lingers in them leaving a lasting imprint and indelible memories. Her forbearance and passion were made clear through her constant presence at the workshops and meetings (your gymnastics to take the perfect shot did not go unnoticed, Kenza). And speaking of shadows, my experience could not have been complete without the presence of Mr. Scorpio, Haytham Chhilif, whose astrological sign proved to be at odds with his calm character, joyful presence, and amiable sense of humor. What is more, his sudden appearance and disappearance at the workshops added some charm to his company, just like the moon on a cloudy night appears and disappears, but its light never fails to shine again. My feelings of gratitude and appreciation are extended to Youness who, as his name suggests (sociability and companionship), was an excellent companion to us all. He spared no effort to make the camp an enjoyable and unforgettable experience and was always at our disposal whenever we needed him. In the same vein, Salma, who although could not remain with us during the entire journey, left a memorable hallmark during her short stay. Her affable disposition and down-to-earth character will always be remembered. Last but not least, I should mention Sarah who was the epitome of hard work, discipline, and conviviality.

 

Words at this point cannot do justice to an experience that was unbelievably perfect. The workshops cut to the chase by providing us with information that is indispensable to us as aspiring writers. The guest speakers’ experience in the field of writing and publishing enriched our knowledge and gave us the opportunity to get a closer look at their writing experience and process. My knowledge was especially amplified by the amount of information and practical exercises suggested by our instructor Anthony. I will definitely remember the discussions he stimulated, and how he encouraged us to read, assess and even complete each other’s writings. His lessons will be hard to forget, and his morning workshops will be dearly missed. And I cannot talk about the camp without mentioning the participants, some of whom have become dear friends, whose diverse and rich backgrounds made the camp feel like a foretaste of heaven. The late-night conversations, the incessant jokes, the brilliant writings, the moments of vulnerability, of intimacy, of human bonding, of sheer joy, were more than I could ever anticipate. Their depth and intensity could only be expressed by the tears I shed on the last day. Thank you for the memories, but most importantly, thank you for giving me something to write about.



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