Dar Si Hmad for Development, Education and Culture is an independent nonprofit organization founded in 2010 promoting local culture and sustainable initiatives through education and the integration of scientific ingenuity in Southwest Morocco. We operate North Africa's largest fog harvesting project, providing villages with access to potable water. Our Water School and Girls' E-Learning Programs build capacity in the Anti-Atlas Mountains. Through our Ethnographic Field School, researchers and students engage with local communities in Agadir, Sidi Ifni, and the rural Aït Baamrane region for meaningful cross-cultural exchange.

Friday, February 15, 2019

EFS with Miami Valley High School (January 2019)

A testimony from one of our beneficiaries, Ikram Bouchama

Students from Miami Valley High School
Last month we received a group of 18 students from Miami Valley High School at our Ethnographic Field School. We developed a rich curriculum for the students to enable them to understand more about Moroccan life, identities and culture.  
Our program consisted of lectures, excursions, and activities based on the culture and histories of southern Morocco. The program's excursions included a visit to our fog project, an old Medrassa in the Ait Baamrane region, Association Aicha in Guelmim, and historical tours of Agadir and Sidi Ifni, led by our EFS Manager and Executive Director.
One of the activities is a cultural exchange between the American and Moroccan high school students.  This initiative enabled both groups of students to learn new things about their ways of life, to overcome negative stereotypes and to make new friends from overseas. We are very grateful to the Ibn Maja High School administration, its students, and the delegation of national education of Agadir for helping us organize such an enriching activity.
The group of students with their teachers
Weeks later, Ikram Bouchama, a student from Ibn Maja high school and a beneficiary of the cultural exchange activity, reached out to Dar Si Hmad’s communication manager and sent her side of the story. You will find below Ikram’s testimonial:
“The most fun yet exciting event that our Ibn Maja High School has experienced took place on Friday the 18th 2019 at 9:30 a.m. I couldn't believe that I was going to be a part of that event. When my teacher Mrs. Aaouatif first told me that I was chosen to participate in it, I got extremely excited to meet American students my age, some of whom are now my friends.
The morning event started with the American students arriving at our school. They looked like any typical American teenagers, which I was pretty nervous about. Before getting to the core of the event, we got in a circle and introduced ourselves in a fun way so that we could get rid of the awkwardness that was surrounding us. Then, we started to create these small groups of four or five where we had to find common things within the group, which was super entertaining; we sang, laughed, and had an unforgettable time.

The students playing baskeball with each other
After a while, we got in groups of three Moroccan students and three American students to discuss the main purpose of the event. American students reflected on their understanding of Moroccan culture, as well as Moroccan students on American culture. We heard some positive stereotypes from our American friends which surprised us. They said beautiful things about Morocco, the people and how nice they were to them. There weren't really any negative stereotypes.
We also shared our perceptions as well. Mostly, it showed how we liked American culture. We liked how open-minded and generous Americans are. Thereafter, we got in a huge circle so that each group could share their final thoughts.

The students drawing graffiti
Afterward, we all went to eat from a buffet full of different snacks, and after some of the students went to draw graffiti on the school walls (FYI, we are allowed to draw graffiti in our school), while others went to play basketball. At the end, the students got together to play a football match with American students playing against Moroccan students, which was incredibly fun.
It was sadly the time for the American students to leave. We took pictures, exchanged each other's information, and said our last goodbyes. I'm grateful that I was part of this event, I'm also very happy that we created memorable moments with our American friends, and we are more than welcome to have them again for more events in the future.”
Ikram with her friend

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