Over the March Break, 13 LCS students travelled to Morocco for the French Language Global Learning Trip. Upon arrival, we were greeted by our guides and whisked off to the city of Marrakech where we were instantly struck by the wonderful aroma from streets vendors selling beautiful spices and delicious looking food. We quickly discovered Marrakech’s charm: a fine balance between the chaos of its winding streets, found in the medina or old city, and the tranquillity of its palaces, gardens and mosques. It was not uncommon to be told to watch out for the donkeys and motorcycles as we navigated the narrow alleyways of the medinas. We instantly fell in love with the culture - relaxed and jovial - and the locals who seemed to always be smiling and laughing. Our Moroccan guide, Hicham, and our bus driver, Youssef had the same contagious smile and laughter.
It is difficult to summarize the many unforgettable and special moments of this trip. However, for many of us, the highlight was our night in the Merzouga desert, the Saharan part of Morocco. As we climbed on the backs of our camels, the sun setting behind us, it felt like we were in another world. The vivid reds and oranges of the Erg Chebbi sand dunes were beautifully contrasted with the bright blue clothing of our local Berber guides. When the sun set and the stars began to emerge, spilling out over the sky, it was truly magical. That evening at our little camp, we danced under the stars to the beat of the tam tam drums played by the Berbers and completed our perfect magical evening with a climb to the top of a dune to look at the stars and express our gratitude. Some shared thankfulness for their families, their education, their ability to travel and to connect with others, among other things.
The trip was action-packed. Another of our adventures included participating in a cooking class with the Moroccan version of Chef Gordon Ramsay. He whipped us into shape and we produced a delicious meal in Fes. Yet another adventure included surfing near Kenitra in the Atlantic Ocean - a definite highlight. With most of us having zero surfing experience, we attempted to fight the waves (Spoiler: they beat us) and work on our tans. We also visited tanneries in Fes that smelled horrible because of the pigeon poop used to soften the hide and absorb the dye. We visited Aït Ben Haddou, a fortified city, used for trading that is now the site for many film sets. On our last afternoon in Casablanca, many of us spent an afternoon in a hammam (local bathing house), which was quite an interesting experience and perhaps not one we would repeat, but it certainly led to a lot of laughs. Shopping in markets and bartering in both French and Darija (Moroccan Arabic) was a constant adventure, seeing who could get the best things for the best prices. Every day we were blessed with incredible food such as tagine, fresh orange juice, camel and more.
As we approached the end of the trip, we were fortunate to be able to visit Hassan II Mosque. Inspired by the architecture of synagogues, cathedrals and mosques, its structure was meant to represent unity and togetherness, regardless of religion. Visiting only two short days after the Christchurch attack, the importance of global tolerance and love was ever present as we shared a moment of silence in the mosque to reflect on community and gratitude. With the ocean beating at the base of the mosque, we left there with a sense of transcendence and peace, perfectly finalizing our last few hours.
Overall, this trip was a huge success. We improved our French and learned a lot, not only about Moroccan culture but also about ourselves as global citizens. We created relationships that we believe will last a lifetime and returned with a new perspective of ourselves and our surroundings. We are extremely grateful to have had this opportunity and will forever cherish the memories it created.