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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Almost Home!

What an incredible two weeks! After almost 24 hours of traveling, I'm about to take off on my last flight from Atlanta to Salt Lake. We left our hotel in Rabat at 3:30 a.m. there.

Check back for some updates to the blog, better captions, and a food blog.. I will have time next week during spring break to finish it up. Exhausted now.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Last Day in Morocco

We are back together with our group today discussing our experiences and how it will inform our teaching. We discussed the various emotions we experienced from shock or discomfort to joy and awe and what drove those.

What fun it was to engage with other teachers about the variety of experiences we had around the different regions/cities of Morocco.

Looking out over the river from the Kasbah of the Oudaias

Some of the girls and I enjoying a moment of relaxation with Moroccan mint tea looking out over the river. Maureen from New York, Kristin from IREX (State Dept), Buchra (our fantastic Moroccan liaison I will truly miss), and me.

The apartments at the Oudaias--so colorful! I almost got lost in the weaving around of the tiny corners.

Boys play marbles everywhere. They found a tiny area that was relatively smooth. You can see the intensity on their faces as they watch where the marble is rolling. There was a grate down below that had to be guarded so the marbles wouldn't go in. :-)

A great shot. I should have purchased a fez hat.

In front of the Casbah of the Oudaias. This was founded in the 12th century and follows the curves of the river. The apartments above are behind the top area of this. It was a departure point for armies leaving to conquer Spain. In the 18th century it was home to a nest of pirates who used to capture Christian ships. It is said that many of the families that live there are descended from them and proud of it.

Mausoleum of Mohammed V
This is where the King's grandfather and uncles are buried.

Entrance to the mausoleum and Hassan Tower

The mausoleum

Hassan Tower

This is a traditional water seller. You see these men around with bells and cups attached. The lampshade hat is my favorite part. What ever happened to that style?

At the Chellah in Rabat. This place is a combination of ancient Roman ruins and an old mosque.

It was amazing to walk around in. It truly made you feel like a speck in time. What a gorgeous day it was and a beautiful place.

An old minaret from a mosque surrounded by some stones dating back to when Romans had held the area.

Lovely countryside around Rabat

The stonework is so intricate and a testimony to the artisanship of the craftsmen. I like to imagine it being created hundreds of years ago.

At our last debriefing. What fun it was to hear everyone's stories.

From the hotel roof, looking out at Rabat.
A lovely garden outside on floor two of the hotel
The city is so white and sadly much rundown in places, even close to the government buildings of the capital city.

After the workshop, we went to the Chellah, Mausoleum of Mohammed V, Hassan Tower, & the Kasbah of the Oudayas

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Back to Rabat

I somehow made it through 11 more hours of travel, between an all night bus ride with transfers, back to Rabat. Had the day to recover but could not sleep, due to construction going on literally just outside my room.

I finally gave up and took a long walk with colleagues to the old city medina for some last minute shopping and then back to the hotel for a light dinner.

Needless to say, I am a weary traveler. Will write more later. It was fun to connect with the rest of the group and hear about their experiences. Indeed, we have enjoyed some fun cultural experiences, mostly without any serious culture shock.

Photos below are from our walk to the old city of Rabat. These are taken from a nice area where embassies around the world are. They are overlooking part of Rabat.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Last Day in Taroudant: Farewell to Hassan and Students

8:00 a.m. Will be shadowing a student part of today, enjoying luch at Hassan's home and then team teaching in the afternoon with a farewell before 6:00. It will be tough to bid adieu to these great kids and Hassan, our kind host teacher.

At 9:00 p.m. we will tough out another bus ride though the night back to Rabat. Will report on the day's adventures tomorrow after some shut eye:-).

The students in both classes today each planned great parties for our departure, so we ate a lot of cake. The second class even had fireworks on their beautifully decorated cake. Tom played the guitar with a young man who sang us a farewell song in English.

Tom was given a traditional man's outfit, and some of the girls gave me some lovely jewelry. The young lady I am with is Meryem, a particularly joyful student who wants to teach English someday and is well on her way.

We had some types of snacks and bread at another teacher's house (Hamid), and they wanted me to dress up in the traditional Moroccan women's kaftan, and, of course I was delighted. They called me a princess, as I sat in their beautiful large room reserved especially for guests. Girls never grow out of wanting to feel like princesses, I guess.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

School and Tiout Village Tour

We started school at 8:00 again this morning and team taught with Hassan again. The students are so happy to have us, and some simply cannot stop talking. Some sweet young ladies have given me some thoughtful gifts. I am so impressed with many of them and their enthusiasm for learning.

Hassan took us out to Tiout, a small village where Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves was filmed in the 1950s. A most beautiful and interesting field trip. Will post pics and write more soon.

We have a dinner appointment with a family of one of Hassan's colleagues now. It will probably go late. Eating is a big affair here, and it starts late. :-)

Dinner was amazing! The people here are superb hosts. You see the beautiful preparation of a Moroccan salad and Tom lifting off the lid of a tagine. The meal is eaten family style, right from the tagine. It was beef with seasoning, prunes and almonds. Everything here is so flavorful and delightful. I have never eaten better almonds in my life. The picture of what looks like nuts on a tree is actually an argan tree with immature argan nuts. They are the rare ones I mentioned on a previous day. We saw women extracting the seeds from the nuts, but out of respect did not photograph them. It is very labor intensive and cannot be extracted with a machine.

Walking through the oasis (because of the reservoir) in the desert. Our guide insisted that I ride a donkey, but that would not have been very lady-like in a skirt. The walk was great.
Isn't that salad beautiful? The young lady on the right is the daughter of the math teacher next to us. She wants to be an engineer and speaks quite good English.
The argan fruit
Ta Da! (Again) Do you see that we Americans have plates, and no one else does? They were so kind to us in making sure we were comfortable. In Morocco the food is eaten family style, all from the dish and with your hands. And yes, they do wash them. There is a special sink next to the guest room in many homes.
The casbah from the 1600s.
I call this pummel-donkey :-)
My lesson introduced with a piece of elk antler and an elk tooth. They were mesmerized and equally stunned by the photograph of a bull elk and those of Yellowstone. Forty students and very well behaved.
The guide put the flowers in my hat and nicknamed me Khadija. He took lots of photos and got a good tip. We had a great time in Tiout.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Teaching Today: A little about Wyoming and National Parks

Thrilled to be teaching today. Tom's lesson turned out great on Saturday, but both of us (who have longer class periods) realized how quick an hour goes by. I adjusted my lesson, so we'll see how it goes.

Also, Hassan is going to teach us how to make a tagine during for lunch today!

3:00 p.m. I love that this program is authentic and allows for the real classroom experience. Today there were kids off task, just like in America. Imagine that! Kids are kids wherever you go. Some of them had not done their homework. Shocking :-)

Overall, the lesson went well. I showed them a piece of elk antler and an elk tooth and asked them what they thought is was. No one knew, other than that it came from an animal. I showed them a photo on the overhead of a large bull elk bugling, and they were very impressed. They were extremely attentive, as I talked about how people hunt them where I come from and provide a part of our economy, as hunters come from all over to hunt and the opportunities that bring. I told them I grew up eating elk, and they were fascinated by that and what it tastes like.

Then I went into a discussion about Yellowstone Park and showed them some photos, asking them if something rare like that in the world should be protected. They agreed that it should, and I showed them a short video clip from the series "National Parks: America's Best Idea." It was a clip about how FDR wanted to put many places and historic sites under the National Park service to protect them. We talked about how many places, from homes, to traditional work places, to battlefields and cemeteries need protection.

I then assigned them to work in small groups to come up with a place in their region that they think could be designated as a park, monument or historic site. They had to explain what it was to Tom and I, tell us why it was important, including the people who are part of it (present and past), and then for homework, write a brief letter to an administrator in their local or national level to persuade them to consider protection for the place.

The students were doing this all in English, and considering the difficulties, did a great job. They came up with ideas like protecting the tannery that Tom and I visited, to a giant house in the city that some consider haunted, to the Argan tree region, and so on. We were impressed with how they communicated with us and expressed their ideas about places important to them.

Hassan took us to his apartment where he taught us to cook with a tagine. We also made a fresh Moroccan style salad, and both were as good or better than anything we have had in a restaurant. I wish I had room to buy a tagine from here to take home, but I am afraid I will break it. I will pick one up at the World Market in Salt Lake, perhaps, on the way back to Afton.

We are now going with Hassan to teach at the University here in Taroudant, which he does on Monday afternoons.

Hassan makes a mean tagine for a bachelor.

Ta Da!
A view from the second floor of the school toward the courtyard. Our cold Wyoming weather could never allow for a design like this, so it was really neat to experience.
Helping students decide what types of places they would like to protect in their region in or around Taroudant.