After arriving in Marrakech, the group took some time to reflect on our stay in Ait Bougamez and the second homestay experience of our course. We asked each student to share one of their favorite moments/memories from our experience in the mountains and with families who took us in and shared so much of their time and energy with us for the past two weeks…
Cathy – On the last night, after the homestay party, I went back to my families home and my homestay grandma came in and brought me into a different room. All of the women were there waiting for me and dressed me up in headscarfs and dresses that are traditionally worn for large celebrations. Spending that time with the women was really memorable.
Lauren – After lunch one day, my two host sisters and I were about to clean the dishes… like at most meals, pomegranates were served for dessert. One of my host sisters squirt pomegranate juice at the other and before long, it became a pomegranate juice war! It was a moment where I felt like they were my real sisters. Despite not having a language in common to use, our laughter in this moment brought us together in a special way.
Emma – We had the opportunity to put together a lesson for the youth in Ait Bougamez about Halloween. We taught them the history of Halloween and put together activities such as bobbing for apples and trick o treating. Back home, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Sharing that experience with the youth in Ait Bougamez was really special and exciting for me. One of my favorite parts of staying in Ait Bougamez in general was spending a lot of time with the youth and being able to exchange culture and language together.
Sally – I really enjoyed trying to figure out the dynamics of my homestay family and understanding everyones relationship to each other. There were always so many people passing in and out of the house. I tried creating a family tree of their family to better understand. My two homestay sisters and my homestay brother were helping me to create it and I taught them the names of family members in English. Their family’s names were already spread across the entire page when I discovered one of my sisters had 12 sister in-laws! There was no room on the page for all these relatives! We had a lot of laughs as I jotted down the names, always shocked at how many people were in this family.
Bau – I really enjoyed playing soccer with all of the youth in Ait Bougamez. Playing soccer really brought me closer to the community and made me feel like I was part of it in some ways. One of my favorite soccer moments was pausing the game for a herd of sheep to cross the field. Throughout our time in Ait Bougamez, we arranged games a few times a week and they were always something to look forward to and remember.
Gabe – My homestay family was training a dog (named Max) for hunting rabbits and quail – an 8 month old black lab. I would spend most of my mornings and afternoons with my homestay father and Max, tossing sticks and running around. One day, Max got lost while my homestay dad and him were hunting. Max was lost for a day and a half and everyone in my family was pretty upset and went to search for him. The night before I left, I was sitting on the front porch and Max showed up! Everyone was so happy.
Pablo – One evening, I was walking back to my homestay family’s house just as if was getting dark. I sat outside the home and the stars emerged in the night sky. I pulled out my camera and decided to practice some night photography. I sat outside for an hour just admiring the stars and taking photos. Although I had looked up at the beautiful night sky on previous nights, this was the first time I really paused long enough to appreciate how clear the night sky was in Ait Bougamez and how lucky we were to be under it.
Michelle – Between tea time and dinner, my host siblings and I would always hang out together and play games. During those hours, I was able to get closer to my siblings as we ran around the house chasing each other and joking around. I don’t know if I have ever played so many different games in a row!
Now in Marrakech, the group has begun their first expedition phase (x-phase) of the course! This is a time when students take what they have learned throughout the weeks prior and utilize the tools and resources we give them to plan out parts of the course. For this first x-phase, the students have planned 3 days of exploring Marrakech. From museums to storytelling events and garden visits, the group has programmed the entire 3 days on their own, including risk management plans, budgets, lessons, transportation, and meals. We’re all looking forward to getting to know this city and understanding it in comparison to the other places in Morocco that we have visited so far. We’ll be in touch soon with stories to tell from the big city!