Hello VMS Students,
In just a few days Shino and I will depart for Morocco to make final arrangements for the program. Before we leave, we wanted to post a note about exercise in-country and about electronics.
We imagine that many of you are quite active and that you exercise on a regular basis. We encourage you to bring comfortable walking shoes, as this will be a main form of exercise while in Morocco. If you are looking for something more, please note that outdoor exercising (running or jogging) is not recommended due to limited locations to do so safety and for cultural reasons. Alternatively, if desired, we can offer some workout sessions and/or a yoga option on a few of our days together which would be done within a hotel. If you think you would like to participate, please feel free to bring culturally appropriate workout clothes (no shorts or tank-tops please).
The second part of this note is to remind you that you won’t need any electronics on this course. If you would like to bring something, please follow these guidelines:
Not permitted: Cell phones (except on plane if you choose), computers, iPads, other tablets, and iPod Touch
Permitted: Cameras and music players only (none with phone/internet/wifi capabilities)
If students arrive on course with any of the non-permitted items they will be held by the instructors for the remainder of the course. Instructors are not responsible for items that are lost, stolen or damaged. Note that we prefer not having to carry your electronics and you won’t be able to use those items at any point during the course.
For permitted items moderation is key. If students are using permitted items to remove themselves from the experience the instructors will talk with that student.
At the end of courses students always mention how thankful they were to be disconnected from technology. You’ll have opportunities to connect with friends and family via internet cafes, though connections will not be as lightning-fast as you might be used to.
Q: If I deactivate my phone can I still use it as my camera and music player?
A: We acknowledge that smartphones can wear many hats but we’ve found that even a deactivated phone has incredible potential to alter your experience. So, to be clear, phones in any form will not be allowed on course. The same goes for iPod Touches, since they are basically the same as a deactivated phone.
Q: I’m worried about my connecting with the student group at the airport. Can I bring my phone for that?
A: Yes, you can bring a phone if you choose and use it during your flights. We will collect the phones upon arrival in-country – this is true for all students. If you think you won’t want your instructors to carry your phone for the duration of the program, please do not bring it with you.
For family and friends back home, know that the instructor team will be in regular communication with the Dragons Boulder office. If family needs to contact you, they can contact the Boulder office and we will receive forwarded questions. Watch our Yak Board for exciting updates every few of days.
We want to share our philosophy: the reasons why we ask you to disconnect from phones and computers.
We value the close community that develops when traveling in a group. We want to give you an opportunity to fully experience the world through different eyes. When we as humans encounter something unfamiliar, something challenging, or something that just doesn’t fit into our worldview, it’s easy to have the initial reaction of not wanting to experience that fully. Our modern portable electronics make it easy to distance ourselves from our immediate surroundings, whether it be people, places, or unfamiliar language. One of the best ways to understand a culture not your own is to experience it fully, to see the intricacies of everyday life, to feel its joys and sorrows, to see how the people pass idle moments and do that with them. There is no greater opportunity to fully engage in the local culture and philosophy than to disconnect from the technology that’s a product of Western thought and globalized ways of living.
Whatever your opinion about our no-phones policy, we encourage you to read this article on the effect of phones on human interaction. As you prepare for the course and let your friends and family know how much you will be in touch, we hope that you will take the time to consider these questions for yourself so that you are embarking on your travels with mindful intentions towards technology’s role in your life.
We wish you the best as you finish your preparations for our course. We hope that you are able to intentionally prepare yourself and your friends and family for what will surely be an adventure. Unplug. Dive in. And get ready for an amazing adventure!