Guelmim – the genial host (Moroccan musings part 7)

We were invited to have a dialog with the staff, lecturers, teachers and parents in Guelmim and Samra region at the Guelmim Academy. The session was chaired by the Academy Director, Abdullah Bouarfa.I have never seen such many people willing to listen to us in an oversea visit. It was quite an intimidating scene. They were about 50 of them, sitting around the huge meeting hall. I believe most of them can understand English but cannot express themselves in English. Funny they called teachers here “ustaz” as oppose to “professor” in Rabat and Marakesh. Fancy that I was addressed as Ustaz Shamsuddin!. So I switched from a professor to an ustaz within two days.
Since the focus of the visit is STEM, I presented some slides on how Malaysia is handling co-curricular activities to infuse science and technology in education. The slide, of course were prepared by someone else, I had the honour to present them. Quite a painstaking experience. Unlike in Rabat or Marakesh where we had simultaneous translator to do the translation, you just had to listen carefully through the headphone. Here we had to do it in the good old way. You speak a few sentences and you stop for the translator to translate them to Arabic. Then you continue and stop again. The start stop situation took a lot longer than the 15 minutes time slated for the session. In the Q&A sessions, we had to field 10 questions. Quite a lot for a Q&A session. A new record for me. The session lasted well into its fourth hour by the time we wrapped it up. Another record for me.
Guelmim suffered from major floods a few months back and you can still see the after effects everywhere. Even the lodging house where we were taken for dinner was not spared. As it was in the whole of Morocco, the use of electricity is as minimal as possible. The place was dark, even in the darkness, I can see the pathway to the restaurant was still spattered with debris and mud. The dinner was spectacular in a way were made to wear the traditional Saharan garb before we dinner was served – complete with the blue turban. And the jilabab and the turban were ours for keep. It was a really tiring day (and night). It was almost 11pm when we reached our hotel. I dozed off as soon as I put my head on the pillow, in jilabab and all.
from windows phone-dec14 574

A section of the participants in the briefing session
A section of the participants in the briefing session
The men had to wear the jilabab.
The men had to wear the jilabab.
And the ladies beautifully garbed in Saharan dress
And the ladies beautifully garbed in Saharan dress
I can pass as an African delegate for the south-south cooperation summit!
I can pass as an African delegate for the south-south cooperation summit!

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