Morocco Study-Service Term http://www.goshen.edu/morocco Learning and Serving Abroad - Goshen College SST Wed, 22 Jan 2014 15:31:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 B’slaama (Farewell) http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/2012/12/05/bslaama-farewell/ http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/2012/12/05/bslaama-farewell/#comments Wed, 05 Dec 2012 22:27:48 +0000 http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/?p=476 B’slaama (Farewell)



Goshen’s first Morocco SST is now complete. Only the final grades remain to be tallied, and the final reports filed. The 14 weeks have passed by as in a dream. We have experienced so much, yet remain novices; seen so much, yet overlook the obvious; learned so much, yet struggle to comprehend the most basic […]

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B’slaama (Farewell)

Goshen’s first Morocco SST is now complete. Only the final grades remain to be tallied, and the final reports filed. The 14 weeks have passed by as in a dream. We have experienced so much, yet remain novices; seen so much, yet overlook the obvious; learned so much, yet struggle to comprehend the most basic features of this engaging culture. It will take months, years, decades, a lifetime, to process the cacophony of images we carry away with us. Some of us will return, ‘insh Allah. All of us will carry a piece of Morocco within, a cherished enigma.

Service assignments took us to the towns and villages of the Middle Atlas and to the ancient Roman city of Volubilis. This part of the term, shortened by the Eid Kabir holidays, was also truncated in some cases by vacationing local supervisors, wary local officials and frustratingly ephemeral assignments. Some worked great. Some worked hardly at all. But in every location the experience with host families was a highlight. Bonds were formed that made leaving bittersweet.

But the time came for us to return to Meknes for presentation of final projects and leave-takings. A few final nights were spent with Meknes host families, culminating in a farewell party in which students and families sang, danced, took pictures, hugged and said their goodbyes. One final stop for tea at the Riad Zahraa, where we had spent our first night in Morocco, and it was on the road to Rabat, an evening on the town, and a very early flight toward home the next morning.

Enjoy these pictures from the final weeks of the term, of service and return, of farewell and flight. Thank you for being our travel and learning companions. As they say in Morocco, “B’slaama!” Go if you must, but go in peace.

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Eid and Service (with cookie interlude) http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/2012/11/06/eid-and-service-with-cookie-interlude/ http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/2012/11/06/eid-and-service-with-cookie-interlude/#comments Tue, 06 Nov 2012 13:36:07 +0000 http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/?p=448 Eid and Service (with cookie interlude)



As the time of formal language and culture study in Meknes came to an end, students prepared to celebrate the Eid – the Festival of Sacrifice (or, the Great Festival) with their host families. Many travelled to be with relatives. Others stayed home and received many guests. All participated in this important religious holiday for […]

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Eid and Service (with cookie interlude)

As the time of formal language and culture study in Meknes came to an end, students prepared to celebrate the Eid – the Festival of Sacrifice (or, the Great Festival) with their host families. Many travelled to be with relatives. Others stayed home and received many guests. All participated in this important religious holiday for Muslims around the world. In Morocco, the ritual slaughter of a sheep (or goat) initiates several days of homecoming, feasting and celebration.

As soon as the holidays had passed, it was time to get on the bus and head for our service assignments. Thanks especially to our partners in the Moroccan American Association for Communication and Cultural Cooperation, we were able to place most students in towns and villages of the Middle Atlas, working at NGO’s, women’s cooperatives, schools and farms across the region. Most students travelled to their assignments together in a bus, stopping at Sefrou (Vanessa, Sam, Joe, Kate), Tazouta (Clare, Micah), Boulmane (Liz, Austin), Azrou (Stuart) and Ben Smim (Suzanne, John). In addition, one student is living in the medieval town of Moulay Idriss Zerhoun (Rachel), close to the ancient ruins of Volubilis, and two others in the villages of Ait Hamza (Lauren) and Guigou (Michael).

As an interlude, we see what happens when the women of Morocco SST gather in the kitchen of Dar Goshen to bake cookies!

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Chefchaouen and the Rif http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/2012/10/19/chefchaouen-and-the-rif/ http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/2012/10/19/chefchaouen-and-the-rif/#comments Fri, 19 Oct 2012 20:28:36 +0000 http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/?p=385 Chefchaouen and the Rif



Taking advantage of a free weekend in the schedule, Morocco SSTers arranged to travel north to the “blue” city of Chefchaouen in the Rif mountains. The students traveled in several groups, some exploring the city itself and the surrounding hills, while others did some serious mountain hiking. These pictures were taken by Liz Core and […]

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Chefchaouen and the Rif

Taking advantage of a free weekend in the schedule, Morocco SSTers arranged to travel north to the “blue” city of Chefchaouen in the Rif mountains. The students traveled in several groups, some exploring the city itself and the surrounding hills, while others did some serious mountain hiking. These pictures were taken by Liz Core and follow one of the groups into Chefchaouen and the stunning landscape around it.

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Exploring the Middle Atlas Mountains http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/2012/10/11/exploring-the-middle-atlas-mountains/ http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/2012/10/11/exploring-the-middle-atlas-mountains/#comments Thu, 11 Oct 2012 10:53:43 +0000 http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/?p=323 Exploring the Middle Atlas Mountains



We had come through the mountains on our way to the desert two weeks ago. But this time the Middle Atlas was our destination. Only an hour’s drive from Meknes, it feels like entering another world. The forested slopes are interspersed with green valleys, arid plateaus and rocky gorges. This is Amazigh (Berber) country, and […]

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Exploring the Middle Atlas Mountains

We had come through the mountains on our way to the desert two weeks ago. But this time the Middle Atlas was our destination. Only an hour’s drive from Meknes, it feels like entering another world. The forested slopes are interspersed with green valleys, arid plateaus and rocky gorges. This is Amazigh (Berber) country, and the scattered towns, villages and isolated settlements anchor the local agricultural economy. We pass through heavily forested hilltops, domain of the famous Barbary apes, and arid slopes, alive with flocks of sheep, goats, cows, donkeys and the occasional horse. We pass through the picturesque town of Al-Hajeb on our way to Azrou, an important town of the Middle Atlas and home to our intrepid Moroccan program assistant, Fouad Achehbar.

Our first stop is at the trout farm and hydrobiology research center at Ras l-Ma. The center focuses on stocking the streams of the Middle Atlas with the native brown trout as well as rainbow trout brought in from the U.S. The facilities are top notch and the program includes research and fishery management, environmental education for Moroccan school children and a fishing school! From there we travel to the village of Ben Smim, where we visit a local women’s cooperative (NGO). The women of the association produce herbs and spices from locally grown plants (see us standing in a field of lavender –watch out for the cowpie!), honey from their own hives, and wool for weaving. Lunch is taken in Azrou. Afterward we continue to the mountain resort town of Ifrane, where we tour the picturesque campus and impressive library (shhhhhhhhhhhhh) of Akhawayn University, the only public institution of higher education in Morocco which offers an exclusively American curriculum with English as the language of instruction. We return to Ben Smim and meet our host families for a unique overnight experience in a Berber village.

The next morning we travel from Ben Smim to visit Arz Gouraud, the oldest cedar tree in Morocco, measuring over 10 meters in circumference. It takes seven students joining arms to surround the massive trunk. Only in the past few years has the tree failed to produce leaves. In the forest surrounding Arz Gouraud we encounter the Barbary Apes of the Middle Atlas up close and personal for the first time. In such locations, individuals of this unique species of macaque have become accustomed to taking food from visitors, which can result in conflict and dependence, a fact that rightly concerns the biologists who monitor and study them. Nevertheless we find ourselves charmed and educated by the interactions we are able to have with them. As we walk through the surrounding forest we marvel again at the topological variation and thriving biodiversity of this land.

From here we leave for the lake district and spend time hiking around Lake Wiwan. We move on to the headwaters of the ‘Oum Ar-Rbi’ river, with an impressive waterfall called ‘Oum Ar-Rdie. It is a well-known and beloved destination for visitors from across Morocco and abroad. The area is characterized by an unusual convergence of seven salt and seven fresh water springs. After our visit we are treated to a wonderful tajine lunch on site.

Returning to Azrou, we are able to visit the artist cooperative near the center of town. Beautiful Amazigh handicrafts are available, and the artists themselves are present, engaged in their craft and eager to talk about their work. The artisans work in a variety of media, including wood, leather and wool for carpet weaving.

The excitement of having immersed ourselves – even for a few days – in the world of the Middle Atlas, having driven its winding roads, walked its rugged forests, been received with overwhelming hospitality by its hardy people, lingers as we board the bus and return to Meknes, our home away from home.

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The Sahara http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/2012/10/01/the-sahara/ http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/2012/10/01/the-sahara/#comments Mon, 01 Oct 2012 22:50:52 +0000 http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/?p=262 The Sahara



“The sky was as full of motion and change as the desert beneath it was monotonous and still,–and there was so much sky, more than at sea, more than anywhere else in the world. The plain was there, under one’s feet, but what one saw when one looked about was that brilliant blue world of […]

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The Sahara

“The sky was as full of motion and change as the desert beneath it was monotonous and still,–and there was so much sky, more than at sea, more than anywhere else in the world. The plain was there, under one’s feet, but what one saw when one looked about was that brilliant blue world of stinging air and moving cloud. Even the mountains were mere ant-hills under it. Elsewhere the sky is the roof of the world; but here the earth was the floor of the sky. The landscape one longed for when one was away, the thing all about one, the world one actually lived in, was the sky, the sky!”

-Willa Cather

How can we possibly convey the amazing experience of our recent journey into the desert? For most of us, before this trip the Sahara was little more than a metaphor – albeit a powerful one: the epitome of heat and aridity; a vast expanse of shifting sand dunes and lifeless void; of wind-whipped caravans and wildish nomads. And yet what we encountered in our humble incursion was something quite different. Harsh in its relentlessness, perhaps. But teeming with flora and fauna. Clumps of green wherever water lingers, deep and hidden. Nocturnal scurrying of mammals, reptiles, insects and birds – whose riotous tracks on every sandy slope tell a story –  (what happens in the desert stays in the desert). It is a wholly OTHER place where the usual impediments that obscure our insignificance on this lonely planet in the vast expanse of the cosmos are removed. When the sun enters its subterranean passage on the far Western edge of the world, followed by the impossibly luminescent moon, we see that we are not below the stars, but among them, of them, one with them.

Our attempts to describe this distant landscape of our beloved Morocco, inhabited since the beginning of time by the resilient Amazigh (Berber) people, will be sadly inadequate – though we will try. Let it suffice for now to accompany us on our journey, catching glimpses of what we experienced through the eye of the camera. Trace the steps of our journey as we board our little bus in Meknes and travel east and south into the Middle Atlas mountains, stopping in Azrou only for fuel. Climbing on switchbacks into the higher elevations we catch sight of the forest monkeys that we will return to visit this coming weekend. It will be several hours before we stop for lunch outside Midelt, in the midst of a plentiful apple harvest. Beginning our descent out of the mountains, we cross back and forth through the Ziz valley and its life-giving wady that greens its banks between the barren cliffs. On the outskirts of Errachidia we gasp at the sight of the Hassan Addakhil reservoir, which serves the thirsty city. We push on to Erfoud, where the good earth provides countless varieties of date palms – visibly ready for harvest. We stop at a farm and are treated to a taste of this bounty.

We stay the night in the unexpected luxury of an Amazigh Kasbah. As we peel the bus off our backs and stumble into the carpeted lounge, we are greeted by an enthusiastic local musical troupe. In the courtyard is a mirage – no it’s a pool (Ps 107:35)! Rubbing our eyes in disbelief we stumble on towards our rooms, equipped with gushing showers and (shshshsh) <climatizasion>. By the time the evening meal is announced we have achieved full trans-cultural accommodation and the buffet of Moroccan delicacies seems entirely à-propros. Worthy or not, we sleep the sleep of the just and wake up ready for the Sahara.

Travelling toward Merzouga the date palms give way to a bleaker landscape, eventually covered by volcanic stones as far as the eye can see. The highway gives way to a track of dubious navigability, and our trusty bus delivers us finally – shaken not stirred – into the hands of our camel handlers on the backside of the Hotel Timbuktu. After a round of piping hot mint tea (!) we don our scarves, grab our water bottles and proceed to the camel staging area. We mount the kneeling, gentle beasts and are thrust in sequence onto the swaying backs that will be our home for the next several hours. The caravan lurches forward, and as we squirm to find that one comfortable position (it does not exist), we are gripped with the awesome (every descriptor is a cliché, so why not use the common ones) undulations of a sea of sand from hump height. Moving slowly, methodically through and around and across and down the dunes, we inch towards our camp, said to be on the far side of a distant hill. After an hour the sun drops to the horizon; we stop to rest and savor that unique sunset. Then back on camelback until we arrive at dusk at a circle of tents, a circle of light, a circle of Amazigh hospitality. How far had we come? Five kilometers? Ten? A hundred? A (typically) tasty meal, followed by desert song and dance; our hosts invite us to take up the instruments; so we drum and clang, casting shadows by the light of the waning moon. Then the lights of distant worlds begin to emerge and take over the boundless sky. The older crowd prepares to retire, but the young are drawn, mesmerized, up the arduous slope of the dune-hill-mountain at the back of the camp. What they record on its distant spine is a revelation. Time stands still, and the inspired incipit of Psalm 8 becomes our motto.

In the morning we rise to greet the sun, having completed its subterranean passage back to the east, no less impressive for the haze that hangs about the sandy slopes. See that distant ridge? That’s Algeria! The camels are ready to return us to Merzouga despite the lingering soreness of backs and backsides. The hearty Berber breakfast that had preceded our sendoff was no match for the feast provided by the Sahara in the hour before the heat returned. We saw with new eyes that life clings and thrives and cycles here as well. To be able to venture to this place under the watchful care of our young guides was a privilege – and we knew it. More than one prayer of thanksgiving was offered, wide-eyed, to the Creator of all.

The trip back was long and hot. Returning to Meknes in the early evening, with host families waiting to receive us and hear about our adventures, we realized – we’re home!

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Exploring Morocco http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/2012/09/20/exploring-morocco/ http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/2012/09/20/exploring-morocco/#comments Thu, 20 Sep 2012 22:03:09 +0000 http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/?p=213 Exploring Morocco



Having settled into our home city of Meknes over the past week and a half, we were ready to explore other important places in Morocco. We started with the amazing city of Fes (Fez) and proceeded to the site of the ancient Roman city of Volubilis (Arabic: Walili). We then returned to Meknes for a […]

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Exploring Morocco

Having settled into our home city of Meknes over the past week and a half, we were ready to explore other important places in Morocco. We started with the amazing city of Fes (Fez) and proceeded to the site of the ancient Roman city of Volubilis (Arabic: Walili). We then returned to Meknes for a guided walk through the old city. Here, in reverse order, are images of our first foray beyond Meknes and back – ending with a wonderful group experience in the scarf market of old Fes, where we each got headgear for our upcoming trip to the Sahara by camel (more on that later). Special thanks to Sam Jones, whose wonderful photos animate our memories of places seen, evoking even the smells and the textures of this most excellent adventure.

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To Darija . . . and Beyond! http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/2012/09/14/to-darija-and-beyond/ http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/2012/09/14/to-darija-and-beyond/#comments Fri, 14 Sep 2012 20:25:33 +0000 http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/?p=191 To Darija . . . and Beyond!



This week we started classes. In addition to daily instruction in Colloquial Moroccan Arabic (Darija), there were also three excellent lectures on Moroccan History, Moroccan Culture and the Linguistic Situation of Morocco. We also watched a video to prepare us for our first field trip this weekend, to Fes, Volubilis and back to Meknes. 14 […]

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To Darija . . . and Beyond!

This week we started classes. In addition to daily instruction in Colloquial Moroccan Arabic (Darija), there were also three excellent lectures on Moroccan History, Moroccan Culture and the Linguistic Situation of Morocco. We also watched a video to prepare us for our first field trip this weekend, to Fes, Volubilis and back to Meknes.

14 year-old Ian is with a class of first graders for a couple weeks, learning Arabic with them, until he integrates into classes with his peers. He is in the same building as the SSTers, so he sometimes

goes out to lunch with them.

After class or between classes students often stop by Dar Goshen to debrief, snack, use the internet or just plain rest. If there is pizza, then our Program Assistant and friend, Fouad, will be there as well. Those who stay long enough may see the sunset and the twinkling lights of the Hamariya from the living room window.

 

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Orientation Days http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/2012/09/08/orientation-days/ http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/2012/09/08/orientation-days/#comments Sat, 08 Sep 2012 22:12:14 +0000 http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/?p=151 Orientation Days



Having made our way from the airport in Rabat to Meknes, the group’s first stop was the old city, where they spent their first Moroccan night in the lovely Riad Zahraa, a traditional Moroccan house turned into a travelers’ refuge. Students checked into their rooms, stowed their gear, and after a bird’s eye view of […]

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Orientation Days

Having made our way from the airport in Rabat to Meknes, the group’s first stop was the old city, where they spent their first Moroccan night in the lovely Riad Zahraa, a traditional Moroccan house turned into a travelers’ refuge. Students checked into their rooms, stowed their gear, and after a bird’s eye view of the old city from the rooftop, we were ready for a walk to Restaurant Salma and the traditional dish tajine. The pictures speak for themselves.

After our wonderful culinary introduction to old Morocco, we walked back past the Bab Mansour and the Plac Lahdim to Riad Zahraa for a sound night’s sleep – the first in 48 hours (or longer). Next morning we were ready to begin orientation. After checkout and a hearty breakfast, luggage was stored at Riad Zahraa and we walked from the old city, through downtown of the new city, to the Pyramid High School ({PHS), where our classrooms are located. Orientation began in earnest as Fouad Achahbar presented “Life in Morocco 101: The Do’s and Don’ts of Passionate Learners on Assignment in the Maghreb.” Exhausted and a bit peckish, the group hiked back to the old city toward the Thousand and One Nights Restaurant for another traditional Moroccan classic, Couscous.

As the restaurant was just around the corner from Riad Zahraa, the group was able to wend its way back just in time to retrieve luggage and meet their host families, who whisked them off to various and sundry parts of Meknes with a promise to bring them to PHS the next morning. That was THIS morning, when indeed everyone showed up (eventually) and we dived into our second orientation session. As is well known, hearty orienting makes for hearty appetite. We hiked downtown, identifying important landmarks and services, and headed for the Chicken Castle (Fr. Palais du Poulet) for lunch.

Afterward students had free time to familiarize themselves with the downtown and find their own way back to PHS. In the afternoon we walked to Dar Goshen for some down time and Moroccan mint tea. Host families picked up students there and a few snapshots were acquired. The rest will follow in another post. Tomorrow is the final day of orientation and then on Monday morning the regular schedule of language learning, lectures and activities begins that will last for the next six weeks.

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Students Arrive http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/2012/09/06/students-arrive/ http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/2012/09/06/students-arrive/#comments Thu, 06 Sep 2012 21:25:51 +0000 http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/?p=148 Students Arrive



The Morocco Unit 2012 arrived today. Flights were on time and we made the bus transfer to Meknes without incident – fortified by sweet Moroccan cookies. We checked in to our hotel, located in the Medina (old city) of Meknes, on a street where the buildings date to the 11th century. After getting settled we […]

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Students Arrive

The Morocco Unit 2012 arrived today. Flights were on time and we made the bus transfer to Meknes without incident – fortified by sweet Moroccan cookies. We checked in to our hotel, located in the Medina (old city) of Meknes, on a street where the buildings date to the 11th century. After getting settled we walked through the crowds of the old city, past the Bab Mansour, to a wonder supper on the terrace at Restaurant Salma. Tomorrow morning, bright and early, we start orientation. This is going to be heluw!

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Morocco SST 2012 Begins! http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/2012/09/06/morocco-sst-2012-begins/ http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/2012/09/06/morocco-sst-2012-begins/#comments Thu, 06 Sep 2012 08:53:17 +0000 http://www.goshen.edu/morocco/?p=142 Morocco SST 2012 Begins!



Students will soon be on their way from Goshen to Meknes. Though they have studied more than one form of Arabic already, they will encounter the unique features of Morocco’s own spoken dialect, Darija. They will live with Moroccan families, study the language, visit the main regions and cities of the country, and complete a […]

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Morocco SST 2012 Begins!

Students will soon be on their way from Goshen to Meknes. Though they have studied more than one form of Arabic already, they will encounter the unique features of Morocco’s own spoken dialect, Darija. They will live with Moroccan families, study the language, visit the main regions and cities of the country, and complete a service assignment at a second location.

Unit leaders, Paul and Julie Keim, along with their 14-year-old son, Ian (Arabic name: Amin), arrived in Meknes in early August and have been preparing for the arrival of the students along with the invaluable assistance of in-country Program Facilitator, Fouad Achahbar. The Goshen program in Morocco is being developed in cooperation with the Moroccan American Association for Communication and Cultural Cooperation (MAACCC). The president of MAACCC, Prof. Si Driss, will be teaching the Darija course for the students during their 6 weeks in Meknes.

 

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