Authors: Abigail McMillan, Rawnag Abdelaziz, Deja Monet Baskerville and Haddou El Bour
This past weekend we set off on our last group trip of the semester, to Fez and Ifrane. We had a relaxing (but fun!) time together seeing the sights, and said a bittersweet goodbye to our much-loved bus and Abderrahim, the lovely man who drives us (and tolerates us) for all of our escapades.
In Fez we took our usual medina tour, and as Fez is known for its enormous, maze-like medina this was quite the treat! We had a chance to visit several co-ops, including ceramics, weaving, and leather co-ops. The highlight of the visit for me, personally, was lunch at Café Clock. Though I am a vegetarian, several of the meat-eating students ordered camel burgers - to the delight of all, I’m sure! I ate some really “mut” (awesome) falafel and fries. We spent the night and the next morning, after a leisurely breakfast, we set off home.
On the way back, we got to stop in Ifrane for lunch. Ifrane is known as the “Switzerland of Morocco” to locals; they’re quite proud of the beautiful mountain town! I don’t know if it was quite like Switzerland, but Ifrane really is gorgeous. The air is clean and crisp, there are parks everywhere you look full of tall old trees and lush flowers, and the town is quiet, above all, which is very much welcome when you’re coming from Fez and Rabat. We ate a quiet and delicious lunch, wandered around for a while, and then back to the bus. Our last treat was a brief stop to the Ceder Gouraud or “monkey forest” (note: that’s how we call it when we talk about it). Monkeys gather around this certain clearing where they know hapless tourists will stop by and feed them, which is unfortunate, but lucky for us because we got to see some monkeys!
On Friday, April 29, 2016, CIEE students met with Moroccan students from Meknes to discuss the hijab (the veil worn by Muslim women). Students talked about the history of the hijab, its significance to Muslim women, and the controversies surrounding the head covering. The students had diverse perspectives and opinions, and many interesting points were raised. Overall, the students agreed that women should be free to do what they please with their bodies—whether that be to cover it or not. During the second half of the day, a calligraphy event took place. American and Moroccan students learned to write “Allah” in different Arabic calligraphy styles. Students focused on the Kufic style, which is the oldest form of the Arabic script. Starting off with the simple square Kufic script and ending with the Fatimid Kufic script, students were exposed to a range of artistic styles. The event turned out to be a success, and students left having gained a broader understanding of women in Islam and Islamic art. Best of all, CIEE students made new Moroccan friends!
On Sunday, May 1, 2016, CIEE Rabat volunteered in the first annual Face-Off Morocco! Brought to you by American Language Centers across the country, the youth of Morocco came together to show off what they knew and interact with others students. In every direction, you saw children running, faces transformed into butterflies, with cotton candy in hand. Hosting a medley of activities including dodgeball, soccer, spelling bees, storytelling, ice breaker games, etc. ALC put on a very successful event. Aside from the academic and athletic based activities, the talent portion definitely isn't something to forget! From hip-hop dance teams to skits to solos on the recorder, the stage was covered in entertainment. Aside from representation from Morocco's big cities (Rabat, Casablanca, Marrakesh, Kenitra, Fez, Tangier, and so on...), there were also a few special guests. One was Arabs Got Talent's own Jennifer Grout who took the stage with her husband, Said Zenati. A fun day for all student volunteers involved, it was great to assist in orchestrating the Face-Off as the welcomed "Guests of Honor."
Two days after the face-off events, students learned how to easily make ''Rghayf'' the Moroccan flat bread at home!
With only 5 ingredients,
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup warm water
olive and butter
Combine flour, yeast and salt. Add water slowly and knead mixture for 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth.
Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and lightly coat with butter melted in oil, set aside for 10 minutes.
While your dough balls are resting, warm a cast iron skillet (or similarly heavy pan) to medium heat.
On a clean surface, roll each dough ball out as thin as you possibly can. Get started with a rolling pin and then carefully lift and stretch the dough by hand. The thinner the better.
If you’d like to fill your flat bread, now is the time to do so! Once you’ve placed your filling in the center of the dough, fold the dough into a rectangle or square and place in the heated pan that’s been lightly coated with oil.
Cook for a total of 6 minutes, flipping the bread every minute or so – making sure each one is cooked evenly.
Best served warm with your favorite jam, cheese or honey, and if you can afford the luxuary of a warm cup of mint tea! Enjoy!