Morocco School Trip
By: Evie H ('19)
Journeying to Morocco with Country Day is one of the best decisions I ever made. Every day I wish I could each chicken tagine, or sit underneath the stars of the Sahara Desert, or see the colorful textiles in the medina just one more time. Morocco is a country that many people misunderstand because of its location in North Africa. When I announced that I became interested in taking the trip, many people responded with, “Isn’t it dangerous?” or “What about all of the terrorist attacks?” To be honest, I became a little nervous myself, but I soon realized that if it was truly dangerous, why would Country Day offer the trip? I had this feeling that I must travel to Morocco. I honestly cannot describe it any better and it may sound confusing, yet I knew that if I did not go to Morocco, I would regret it.
Morocco is a country with its own unique culture of so many different people. People of different religions, ethnicities and styles all live together in harmony. The people of Morocco were beyond kind to me. I did not encounter one rude person while travelling. Our tour guide, Said, could not have been more amazing. Without Said, I would not learn as much as I did about the culture of Morocco. Entering the winding streets of Rabat while you are still jet-lagged I admit is a little challenging, but with the help of Said, no one managed to end up on the other side of the city. Said taught us how to truly embrace the culture of a foreign country. He helped us stay open-minded, yet also cautious when meeting new people. In total, my classmates and I visited the four imperial cities (Fez, Rabat, Marrakesh, Casablanca) as well as spent the night in the Sahara Desert and visited smaller cities on the way. I enjoyed experiencing the different areas of Morocco and how the culture differed a little in each new city and new area we visited.
The night we spent in the Sahara Desert was the highlight of my trip. I remember looking up at the stars and thinking how unreal it was to be in a place so magnificently beautiful. It was like nothing I could ever imagine. After we raced in land rovers to the desert, we rode camels up to the sand dunes where we watched the sun set over the Atlas Mountains. The sand was a red-orange color and felt like velvet. The sky turned to orange and deep purple as the sun sank below the ridge. I never realized how incredible a sunset could be. We slept in tents all connected in a little community with a fire in the middle. The tents contained beds, a sink and toilets along with a shower. It was definitely the nicest tent I ever camped in by far. Said told us that if we wanted to see the sunrise, a guide will come by our tents in the morning and snap to wake us up. However, I woke up with a start. I saw light stream into the tent, thinking that I missed it. I ran out of the tent and looked up to the sky. It was green/blue and the moon was still out, so I went back into the tent community. I was not fully awake yet and not comprehending my surroundings, so like every tired person that wakes up before sunrise and thinks it is going to rise in T-5 seconds, I woke people up saying, “THE SUN IS GOING TO RISE AND WE’RE ALL GONNA MISS IT!” A few of my classmates ran out of their tents with no shoes on and the sand is as cold as ice. Little did I know that it was 6:00 and the sun does not rise for another hour. Perfect. When 7:00 rolled around, I was ready. My friends and I ran up the sand dunes to get a good view. I can only count on one hand how many times I awoke to see a sunrise, yet I am so happy that this is one of those few. The sun broke through the clouds in majestic rays of gold while the sky turned from a light lavender to a perfect shade of pale blue. No picture, nor video could ever capture the true beauty of this moment, so I watched with my eyes and soaked it all in. I sat on a sand dune in the Sahara Desert. I am still and forever will be in awe of that moment.
Morocco is a country I believe many people are not fully aware of. I did not realize that Morocco was the first country to recognize the United States’ independence from England and is still in a great relationship with us. It is a beautiful country filled with beautiful people. I cannot thank my parents and Country Day enough for making this trip possible for me. I hope that many more students will have the same opportunity to explore this unique culture. I will forever cherish the memories I made and the people I met. Shukraan, Morocco.
The Japan Trip
By: Kamai M ('20)
Over spring break, twelve students and I got to visit Japan for eleven days. Japan is one of my favorite places, due to its polite culture, technological advancements, and rich history. I also enjoy Japanese entertainment, such as anime (Japanese cartoons) and manga (Japanese comics). Japan had always been a place I wanted to visit, so seeing a school trip to Japan felt like a dream. I signed up immediately, and started to prepare for the life changing experience. I was elated to visit Japan for the first time. I had an amazing time in Japan, and bonded with the outstanding group of students that traveled with me.
While visiting the Japanese cities, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Tokyo, we experienced multiple aspects of Japanese culture. A cultural difference that surprised me was the politeness of the Japanese people. In America, everyone is focused on their own lives, jobs, and families, and few rarely go out of their way to help a stranger. In Japan, the people were respectful, kind, and helpful everywhere. Whenever someone bumped into another on the street they would apologize and politely bow/nod. In addition, people would often tap my shoulder to tell me that my shoe was untied.
Throughout the trip, I faced obstacles and new experiences that I will never forget. Embracing Japanese culture was interesting and fun. I loved visiting Japan, and enjoyed spending time with the students. I am very thankful for being able to go on such an amazing trip.