Kaleidoscope: Women’s cross cultural visions

We just got back from this amazing book signing event that we were invited to through Thaqafat. It was unlike anything else we’ve experienced in Morocco so far. It was orderly, calm, relatively quiet, structured… So very different.

So this morning on the Tram we got a call on our Moroccan cell phone from Karima at Thaqafat who invited us to this event sponsored by the American Embassy about women. That was the only description we really got, but I said yes right away, so she called our host family to make sure they took us there for 9:15pm.

Fast forward twelve hours, and we were following Abdulmajid through the winding streets of the Medina to the CCCL, a large and beautiful building in the richer, more extravagant part of the Medina. We were welcomed in through these big beautiful doors decorated with patterns carved into the wood, and ushered into this big square room full of people. The clothes were quite a bit fancier than what you would see out on the street, but there was still quite the variety of clothing. We recognized a few other volunteers from Thaqafat, and made our way over to them, not before stopping to get a class of Moroccan Mint tea, of course. The room was pretty fancy and elegant with marble floors, and decorated beautifully and elaborately with moroccan tiles. There was sort of an inner square where people we’re mingling and drinking tea, and then an outer square separated by archways, used to move around the room more. Around the outside of the room there were paintings on display by one of the women who worked on the book that was being presented at the event.

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Before the event started, we were invited upstairs to the fourth floor which was a terrace overlooking the entire Medina. It was so beautiful, and you could see so far in every direction. The Tour Hassan was all lit up and we could see it from our terrace, and all the way over to Sale. The moon was really bright, and reflected over certain streets in the Medina, although you could mostly just see the rooftops. It was next to impossible to get a picture, but I did my best.

When the event was about to start I wasn’t ready to leave the terrace, but we made our way back down two flights of stairs where there was what they called a conference room. There were two rows of chairs set up on each wall, and then at the end there was a bit of a stage where the four women who worked on the book sat. They each took turns discussing their contribution to the book, and it was so interesting!

The book, called Kaleidoscope: Women’s Cross-Cultural Visions, is essentially a collection of poems and artwork from six women: three Americans who have spent time traveling and living in Morocco, and three Moroccans who have done the same in America. Everything is centered around the theme of travel, and using travel and voyage to explore yourself and to understand other cultures. One of the women explained that when you travel, you are not discovering strangers, you are discovering yourself in the eyes of strangers. They said that in the Arab world, women often have little or no voice, and they wanted to provide a creative outlet for women to express themselves who have had experience finding themselves through travel. Another woman explained that in Arabic, the root of the word “travel” and “book” is the same root, meaning “voyage”.

The book has each poem translated in French, English, and Arabic, and like the book, the event had all three languages, but focused on French. I was able to understand almost everything, and then explained some of the stuff she was missing to Mom when we got home.

It was really cool to be a part of something like that! We didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into, but I’m really happy we went! The terrace alone made it worth it! We bought a copy of the book, so it will be interesting to flip through it. My favorite part is the paintings, which were done by a Moroccan architect. She was really cool, and said she wanted to inspire joy in those who saw her work.

Abdulmajid picked us up after, wearing a yellow Hawaiian shirt that we’ve seen before with matching yellow Hawaiian pants, which were new to us.

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