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    [post_date] => 2017-07-28 17:09:36
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    [post_content] => The Morocco group has landed safely at JFK and students are headed for onward flights and parent pick-ups. Wishing everyone a happy reunion with families and friends!

-Dragons Administration
    [post_title] => Morocco arrived at JFK
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SUMMER: Morocco

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Morocco arrived at JFK

Dragons Admin,SUMMER: Morocco

Description

The Morocco group has landed safely at JFK and students are headed for onward flights and parent pick-ups. Wishing everyone a happy reunion with families and friends! -Dragons Administration

Posted On

07/28/17

Author

Dragons Admin

Category

SUMMER: Morocco

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    [post_date] => 2017-07-28 06:42:52
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    [post_content] => Dear Family and Friends of the Morocco summer course,

The group had the chance to squeeze in one more experience in Morocco by visiting the Hassan II Mosque this morning in Casablanca, before heading for the airport. Attached are several photos of that visit. Students also said goodbye to Mohamed this morning and are currently all through security in Casa along with John and Shino. All students are awaiting their flight - either to JFK (those on the group flight) or to other destinations for those flying independently.  The group flight to JFK flight is scheduled to arrive in New York at 5:55pm EDT.

Wishing everyone safe travels home!

- Cara Lane-Toomey
    [post_title] => Getting ready to depart Morocco
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Getting ready to depart Morocco

Dragons Admin,SUMMER: Morocco

Description

Dear Family and Friends of the Morocco summer course, The group had the chance to squeeze in one more experience in Morocco by visiting the Hassan II Mosque this morning in Casablanca, before heading for the airport. Attached are several photos of that visit. Students also said goodbye to Mohamed this morning and are currently […]

Posted On

07/28/17

Author

Dragons Admin

Category

SUMMER: Morocco

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    [post_content] => Returning from a Dragons course can be challenging to students for many reasons, not least of which includes communicating their experience to others back home.  As part of our transference phase, we asked students to answer the question, “How was Morocco?” in a paragraph, a sentence, and a word. It’s not easy packing all of our adventures into a nice, neat paragraph – let alone a sentence or a word –with a shiny bow on top. We believe that encouraging students to try now will prepare them to articulate what they’ve experienced as effectively as possible and better adjust to their environments back home.

By sharing these positive reflections, we do not mean to imply that there was no struggle on course, no uncomfortable moments, no awkward exchanges that led to deeper learning or just plain frustration. But across the board, students remained overwhelmingly positive about the challenges they faced. Students excelled in allowing themselves to go with the flow of “Moroccan time” and enjoy whatever situation they found themselves in. We, their instructors, are glad to hear they are taking that positive and empowered energy with them as they prepare to return home. We also want to thank you - the friends and family of these brave and engaged individuals - for letting us steal them for this past month. We feel deep appreciation for the trust and openness students shared with us throughout this journey. Inshallah (Godwilling), this is just the beginning of greater adventures to come.

This is a group photo in front of our hotel in Sidi Kaouki where the first Dragons – Morocco transference was held ten years ago. Below are the words and sentences from students. Feel free to ask them about their paragraphs!

Morocco in a word:

-       Inspiring

-       LITty

-       Zween

-       Halcyon

-       Serendipitous

-       Mumtaz

-       Happy

-       Bizaaf

-       Spectacular

-       Phenomenal

 

Morocco in a sentence:

-       Morocco was so amazing because I got to explore a massive diversity of people, places, religions and cultures with a group of super close friends.

-       My travels through Morocco have left me aching to see, do and eat so much more.

-       Morocco is one of the coolest and most unique experiences I have been a part of.

-       Traveling through Morocco with 12 unique people made my experience in the vibrant and diverse country unforgettable.

-       Morocco is very intriguing and has so much culture, and differences in food, landscape, people and weather and will always be remembered as a great time.

-       The people who I met and the places we went made the trip absolutely wonderful.

-       Morocco was the most living experience I’ve ever felt, there was so much to process - the beauty, the fear, the friends and the happiness - I would cry going on to explain it.

-       I did so many cool and new things in Morocco that have inspired me to learn more about other cultures.

-       Morocco was a beautiful country in which we had the amazing experience of learning Darija [Moroccan Arabic] and learning about Moroccan culture.

-       My experience allowed me to learn about Moroccan culture and understand what I want to pursue as a career, grow as a happier person, and establish unique and amazing friendships.
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Transference in Morocco

Morocco Dragons Program,SUMMER: Morocco

Description

Returning from a Dragons course can be challenging to students for many reasons, not least of which includes communicating their experience to others back home.  As part of our transference phase, we asked students to answer the question, “How was Morocco?” in a paragraph, a sentence, and a word. It’s not easy packing all of […]

Posted On

07/27/17

Author

Morocco Dragons Program

Category

SUMMER: Morocco

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    [post_content] => Instructor's note: Gigi has been one of our main photographers on this course. We had struggled figuring out how to share her images throughout the trip, but have finally sorted it out. Here are some of her favorites from the course. (She has many many more that we can't wait to see!)

Nadia Picture:
My host sister in the Middle Atlas, Nadia, took me to her sister's shop and sat me down for tea within our first 30 minutes of knowing each other. It was during this time I learned the rarity and beauty of her smile, and exactly how to make it return.

Horse in Sidi Kaouki Picture:
Sidi Kaouki is the epitome of relaxation. Dogs nap on the sand while camels lazily meander the beach. Rushes of excitement occasionally frequent the shore, as the pairing of hooves alongside the crashing surf temporarily overwhelm the senses.

Tanneries Picture:
The tanneries in Fez were full of large colorful vats and hardworking people, creating my own personal photographer's bliss. It reaffirmed that I want to learn about people and capture moments of their lives for the best of my own.

Ballet Picture:
The beach in Sidi Kaouki evokes such a sense of freedom that I returned momentarily to my past life of ballet. Knowing I was still able to do what I left behind a year ago made this freedom even sweeter.
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Photos from Morocco

Gigi and Instructors,SUMMER: Morocco

Description

Instructor’s note: Gigi has been one of our main photographers on this course. We had struggled figuring out how to share her images throughout the trip, but have finally sorted it out. Here are some of her favorites from the course. (She has many many more that we can’t wait to see!) Nadia Picture: My host […]

Posted On

07/27/17

Author

Gigi and Instructors

Category

SUMMER: Morocco

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    [post_content] => As I stepped out of the rain into the sweltering midday sun, distinctive pink mudbricks and throngs of people struck me like lightning in the dark of night. What I found there, in that shocking interlude of vibrant color, was a sight I'll never forget: Marrakesh, that mystical name whispered across undulating sands and and jagged mountains, had made herself known to me. Picking our way through fluid crowds of cars, mopeds, tourists, and locals, all working to build a welcoming cacophony of hustle and bustle, we then entered the medina and beheld a still-more-wondrous scene. Freed from the fumes and congestion of the cars, the famed old city greeted all of us with the stomping grounds of peoples far and wide. In the brief walk to our riad, we passed by thriving organic cafes and pristine aisles of kaleidoscope jewelry, by native rugs of red and green and by grissled shopkeepers, peddling to passers by with a haughty smile.

Unlike Fes, bikes frequently zipped past our modest pace and infused the medina with a hint of the frantic activity of downtown; this only made me feel more alive, more in time with the essence of this ancient city revitalized, and more inspired to learn its hidden secrets. Within the span of a couple corkscrew turns and more of the endless variegated stalls, we came face to face with a gorgeous door, fresh from the imaginings of the Arabian nights. Made of polished black wood, in a style evocative of antiquity, the door to Riad Ben Said beckoned us all into an unknown, but rarely extravegent future, much like the Red City itself. Inside, the courtyard was no different, a dazzling jigsaw of reds, greens, blues, whites and omnipresent pints arranged in dancing patterns fit to render us senseless not only from exhaustion, but from wonder. By the time we settled into our rooms and put down our bags, I was utterly breathless; I get the sense that Marrakesh does that to people, even with a fleeting glance.

Like the center of the world, Djamm-El-Fna has inexorably pulled me into starstruck orbit. I didn't expect a town square to be so hypnotically dazzling, so explosively vibrant, so magically teeming with every manner of attraction. On our first night in the city, we came to the epicenter of excitement just as it truly came alive. An array of vaunted street chefs had just assembled their stalls and filled the air with hazy smoke. In awe-inspired stupor, the thick smoky atmosphere seemed to me the stuff of dreams, and as insubstantial as a midnight fiction.

The city rubbed its eyes and stretched from sleep in a totally different way. Exhausted and subdued, we walked out of the medina past closed stalls, empty streets, and early morning quiet, all aided by pale blue light subtly raining through the shaded alleys. After enduring and embracing the hectic harmony of the Red City for what seemed like a momentary lifetime, it was time to remember the soft side of this country: a land of rolling mountains and rivers, of birds chirping and a lonely call to prayer making its way through the shifting winds and panels. Like the sunset disappearing behind the mountains, Marrakesh vanished from my view.
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SUMMER: Morocco

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Marrakesh

Brett Cohen,SUMMER: Morocco

Description

As I stepped out of the rain into the sweltering midday sun, distinctive pink mudbricks and throngs of people struck me like lightning in the dark of night. What I found there, in that shocking interlude of vibrant color, was a sight I’ll never forget: Marrakesh, that mystical name whispered across undulating sands and and […]

Posted On

07/25/17

Author

Brett Cohen

Category

SUMMER: Morocco

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    [post_content] => Late last week our group had the opportunity to work on a learning service project in the High Atlas Mountain village of Ourikt in Tighza Valley. After a long day of travel from Imilchil on Thursday, we arrived in Ait Benhaddou toward the late afternoon where we were able to explore the timeworn mudbrick kasbah town that has set the scene for so many iconic Hollywood movies such as Gladiator and Lawrence of Arabia. Following our visit to the kasbah, our counterparts from Ourikt greeted us and took us to their village along a windy mountain dirt road lining a verdant valley of farmlands below. We settled into Riad Kasbah Oliver, the village hotel, where we ate dinner and learned more of the development issues facing Ourikt from Caroline, a British woman who traveled to Morocco in the early 2000s, married a man from the village named Mohamed, and co-founded with him Baraka, an active non-profit organization. Among the topics Caroline presented were water scarcity, waste management, sustainable tourism, and education. Mohamed and Caroline’s son Oliver, after whom the hotel is eponymously named, shocked our students with his perfect English and kept everyone entertained with his pet turtles.

At the moment, Baraka is rebuilding a kindergarten that was damaged by a once-in-a-lifetime flood that occurred in late 2014 (on a side note, this year the village is facing an acute water shortage and many families are rationing their scare water resources). Our project entailed building a perimeter wall around the kindergarten compound to keep students and classrooms safe from stray animals and passersby – to provide a quiet and protected environment in which to learn. The 250 meter wall is nearly complete, though significant gaps remain. Although we had only one morning to work, our job was to make as much progress on the wall as possible.

Several students slept on the roof of our hotel to stay cool under the stars. Not even the shrill cry of roosters and an animated dog brawl in the valley below the next morning could break the majestic aura of the new setting we found ourselves in. The shy morning sun stayed hidden behind the mountain walls surrounding us as we woke up. The group ate breakfast and made an early departure for the service site. Upon arrival we introduced ourselves to men from the village working on the project. After beginning to lift heavy cinderblocks and clearing dirt for new sections of the wall, we quickly learned that these men were mu’alem, skilled craftsmen and construction workers. We had much to learn from them and little time to do so.

It didn’t take long however, for the group to begin perspiring. The sun beamed bright overhead as we formed long bucket brigade lines to pass 30 pound cinderblocks from the center of the site to the perimeter. Others cleared clogs of dirt for the foundation with pick axes and shovels. Another man began to twist wrought iron into towers that we carried to the foundation site. Soon the cement piles were churning as students mixed finer sand with gravel and cement powder. We shoveled the cement into buckets and passed them, one to the other, toward the perimeter wall. For what the students lacked in construction expertise they more than made up for with their grit and determination! Luckily, John’s chant kept the students motivated, energized, and focused. It was either that or the delicious tea with bread and olive oil that the men brought for a snack and respite from the dust and sun.

After several hours of work, we received a call that our transportation was waiting to take us back to the main road and from there another van to Marrakech (not to mention our couscous tagines– a Friday tradition – were ready for lunch!). Students passed the last of the stones to the perimeter and shared a picture and parting words of gratitude with the men who so graciously welcomed us to work with them. It was a short, but sweet time we had in Ourikt working on our service project. We helped build the foundation of around 20 feet of the perimeter wall and prepared the foundation for another 10 feet. On another section, the men were able to build the wall higher, near waist-level height. Students got dirty, sore, and tired. But it felt good. After a hearty meal of couscous back at the hotel, we packed up our things and headed back along the dusty path toward the High Atlas Mountain passes leading to Marrakech. We arrived with a willingness to give and, despite the short time frame, gave we did: sweat, laughter, donations, and good vibes. But we also received much in return: not only the overwhelming hospitality from everyone we met but also greater awareness of and connections to a small, beautiful corner of the world. Whether we consciously thought of it or not, this is a lesson we took with us as we departed toward Marrakech, brimming with excitement for the red city.
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Learning Service

John McGinnis,SUMMER: Morocco

Description

Late last week our group had the opportunity to work on a learning service project in the High Atlas Mountain village of Ourikt in Tighza Valley. After a long day of travel from Imilchil on Thursday, we arrived in Ait Benhaddou toward the late afternoon where we were able to explore the timeworn mudbrick kasbah town […]

Posted On

07/25/17

Author

John McGinnis

Category

SUMMER: Morocco

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    [post_content] => Here are more pictures from Marrakesh! These are photos of some students getting henna and from a visit to Medersa Ben Youssef. Hope you enjoy!
    [post_title] => Marrakesh Photos 2
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Marrakesh Photos 2

Morocco Instructors,SUMMER: Morocco

Description

Here are more pictures from Marrakesh! These are photos of some students getting henna and from a visit to Medersa Ben Youssef. Hope you enjoy!

Posted On

07/23/17

Author

Morocco Instructors

Category

SUMMER: Morocco

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    [post_content] => Hello everyone,

Here are some photos of our activities in Marrakesh.

A couple of the picture are from our first night out in Jamaa l'fna (the big square in Marrakesh). Students ate some snails! Another is a photograph of students participating in a Development Session led at our Riad (hotel) as well as one of students at Jardin Majorelle.
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Marrakesh Photos 1

Morocco Instructors,SUMMER: Morocco

Description

Hello everyone, Here are some photos of our activities in Marrakesh. A couple of the picture are from our first night out in Jamaa l’fna (the big square in Marrakesh). Students ate some snails! Another is a photograph of students participating in a Development Session led at our Riad (hotel) as well as one of […]

Posted On

07/23/17

Author

Morocco Instructors

Category

SUMMER: Morocco

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    [post_content] => Ourikt is a town 2 hours from Marrakesh with 160 residents nestled in a valley between tall red mountains made of dirt.  Our hotel, the Riad Kasba Oliver, overlooks the town from the top of the mountain.  We arrived at the hotel after a slow drive over a long, whiny, rocky road that circles the valley then through minuscule passageways that barely fit three people the sun had just ducked under the horizon leaving the sky a brilliant Sahara red.

By the time we settled in our rooms the sky had turned a dark and the first stars were coming out.  I went out to the roof, laid down, and watched as the stars slowly decorated the sky - at first one be one but later dozen by dozen until the sky was a delicate splattering of stars that no Jackson Polik can ever replicate. Upon coming to Morocco I never realized how wide and all encompassing the sky was.  The stars stretched from the tips of the mountains to the deepest darkest valleys. And every where I look there are stars. When I was back in light soaked Vancouver I found it hard to believe that even in the darkest pockets of sky there are thousands, if not millions of stars whose lights were just too dim for me to see but here, I can't imagine that there isn't a star to fill every inch of the sky with its dazzling light from thousands if not millions of light years away.

There is no picture, film, or painting that can ever replicate the feeling of looking up at the stars on top of the mountains in Ourikt.  I have trouble describing the scene above me because I can think of a thousand words to describe every star I see and every time I blink I can think of a thousand more. No wonder Van Gogh spent so much time painting the starry nights, I thought.  No wonder people devote their lives to studying bright balls of gas unimaginable distances away from us.  No wonder people travel to unfamiliar places thousands of miles away just for a chance to see the stars light up the sky.

I love seeing the stars.
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SUMMER: Morocco

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Look at the Stars

Amy Li,SUMMER: Morocco

Description

Ourikt is a town 2 hours from Marrakesh with 160 residents nestled in a valley between tall red mountains made of dirt.  Our hotel, the Riad Kasba Oliver, overlooks the town from the top of the mountain.  We arrived at the hotel after a slow drive over a long, whiny, rocky road that circles the […]

Posted On

07/23/17

Author

Amy Li

Category

SUMMER: Morocco

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    [post_content] => I curl up on the multi-colored, handmade rug on the floor of a quaint brick house. Wee'am, my five-year-old sister, plops down next to me, leaving no space between us in the large and empty room. As I write, she rummages through my pencil case. Fascinated by each new color and how each pen uniquely operates, she tests them all on a sheet of paper I ripped out from my notepad. Orange scribbles, bright yellow highlighter marks, and a green traced hand fill the page, all while she softly sings to herself -- an Egyptian lullaby I taught her yesterday. I'm surprised she remembers it so well. The words were easily forgotten, but the melody seems to ring in her head during every dull moment. With each repetition, she changes two or three notes, creating an entirely different tune. I admire each new lovely song, mesmerized by her subtle changes. I stop and pick up my pen from the slightly dirtied pages of my journal and focus my attention on the girl before me. Despite her full head of curly dark hair, I recognize our similarities. Her curious nature. Her easily entertained hands. Her short playful songs sung softly in sweet happiness to no one else but herself. Her love of pens.

I begin to scan over the rest of her features. I could stare into those bright brown eyes forever. Full of excitement and joy and undeniable beauty. With eyelashes that extend far over her eyes, I imagine how every blink must be a burden. She glances up at me and we share a knowing moment -- she looks into my hazel eyes, and I hers, and I'm struck by the growing smile on her tanned face. With a small dainty hand, she reaches up and grasps my straight, light-brown hair. Still holding our gaze, she waits for my reassuring nod, then splits my hair into two sections to twist them around. With this foreign texture now between her fingers, she slowly winds my long hair around -- seemingly confused on when it will end. I allow her to complete the braid she seems content with, admiring her focus as she turns me into a doll. Despite our immediate trust, I recognize our differences. She'll continue to grow up in this small village of Imilchil. She may not ever leave. She doesn't know what the rest of the world encompasses or what her future will look like; she lives in the moment. Every rooster crow, every tajine tasted, every rocky walk to the hanut down the path. And somehow she feels comfortable letting me into her world. Taking my hand and leading me outside. Covering me with a blanket when I fall asleep in the middle of the room. Sitting at the bottom of my feet, peering over my bent knees, silently wondering who I am and why I'm really inside her home. And why I can't understand anything she says. Yet she embraces it. And I realize that this is the reason I've both fallen in love with and become extraordinarily jealous of this Moroccan child: the ability to immediately embrace the unknown.
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SUMMER: Morocco

View post

Homestay Profile: Wee’am

Elizabeth Ensslin,SUMMER: Morocco

Description

I curl up on the multi-colored, handmade rug on the floor of a quaint brick house. Wee’am, my five-year-old sister, plops down next to me, leaving no space between us in the large and empty room. As I write, she rummages through my pencil case. Fascinated by each new color and how each pen uniquely […]

Posted On

07/23/17

Author

Elizabeth Ensslin

Category

SUMMER: Morocco

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