Stories from the Somerville-Tiznit Sister Cities Delegation (part 1)

by karen Krolak

Alas, the henna on my hands and ankles is really starting to fade. Though I had hoped to post photos and share our adventures from Tiznit, Morocco, our delegation's schedule left barely enough time for longish naps at night and our cell phones suffered from data connection issues. To be fair, though, this was a paltry price to pay for such an incredible experience.

Now that we are back in Somerville's snow dusted streets, I will attempt to cover some of the highlights of this amazing journey. I am so thankful to all the people in both cities who organized this project.

Even with my lavender and rose filled neck pillow, I found it difficult to sleep on the first leg of trip. Fortunately, our plane had individual movie monitors and I was able to watch a fluffy Bollywood extravaganza before dinner was served. Although the romantic plot line was predictable, the film's theme of people seeking to balance ancient cultural traditions with contemporary life reverberated through many of my later conversations in Morocco. Besides, I am a total sucker for Bollywood's sprawling dance scenes.

After dinner Jason and I synced up our screens to watch Pixar's UP together. Having seen some of Pixar's earliest projects at Siggraph conferences with my father in the late 80's, I was once again impressed by their artistic evolution. One of my favorite students from my days of choreographing musicals at Dover Sherborn High School, Najeeb, now works for Pixar. Even though I am not exactly sure how he was involved with this film, I was still rather proud of him.

Of course, since I selected to view UP in French in a last minute effort to brush up on my rusty speaking skills, I will need to see it again. Madame Witzberg would be so disappointed by how infrequently I grasped snippets and phrases.

The overwhelming majority of our group is composed of educators. As I bumbled through the movie's dialogue, I was repeatedly reminded of how much I have benefited from my relationships with teachers and students in ways that extended far beyond a class' subject matter.

Who would have guessed that in-flight movies would hit on two major topics at the heart of this trip to North Africa?

to be continued...

To comply with recent legistalation regarding blogging, I should mention that my trip was sponsored by The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in concert with Sister Cities International, the City of Somerville, the City of Tiznit and the Moroccan American Cultural Center. Readers should know that my experiences would not be typical for anyone else...especially those that studied French more diligently in high school and college.


Anonymous said...

Hello Karen,

I am writing to you because I will wish to hear more about your experience in Tiznit.

I am doing a newsletter for UME and wish to talk to as many of you as possible who participated in the cultural exchange trip.
Would you be interested in speaking to some local organizations about your experiences?

Please email me asap with the subject TIZNIT: capecodcharlene@yahoo.com

k said...

Thanks, I would love to share more of our experiences with you. I will be in touch.


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