VIP for a day. January 20-February 17, 2020 (part 4 of 4)
I was invited to join the VIPs for three special events.
The first, was the day after the Superbowl all-nighter, so I had to hustle to catch a bus back in time for the ceremony. The Director of Grumpy Old Men, who is also on the board of the Dar Taliba (house of girl students) invited me to a visit by the Minister of the Exterior to the girls’ house. This is a dormitory for girls who live in villages too small for a high school, or sometimes even middle school, and are too far to go back and forth each day. It turned out to be the Ambassador of Canada, who came to see a solar water heater they had donated. Every dignitary of the town was there, plus me. I joined the receiving line, but left the limelight to Moroccans. We had a nice tour of the house, which included perfectly neat rooms, tightly packed with 8-10 bunk beds and a small locker space for each girl, in each of the 3-4 bedrooms, a large kitchen and we met in the dining room. We were greeted by a traditionally dressed girl, holding a large, professional bouquet of fresh flowers, which I had only seen previously in Marrakesh. Milk and dates were served on the Ambassador’s arrival. There were many photos and a few speeches. We concluded with tea at the women’s weaving cooperative.
A week later, I received a printed invitation to the Karate Association’s awards ceremony. This time, I only recognized two of the dignitaries, outside the Karate group itself. It seems, the traditional way is for whatever VIPs are on hand (including yours truly) to take turns handing out certificates and posing for photos. Between the awards of new degrees (yellow-black belts) there were karate demonstrations. The small kids are always particularly cute. My host nieces and nephew all received new degrees and performed in the program. Between age groups and degrees, we had live music (from the same music teachers that no longer come to the Dar Shbaab). The event ran late, but was worthwhile. Cookies and juice were served.
Last, but best, I was invited to a ceremony at the high school, where the three top scoring students from each grade level, of high school and middle school, received a certificate. There were performances by students between grade levels. Several VIPs were on hand and took turns handing out certificate. I recognized a few of the recipients, including one boy who is at my Youth Center and Soccer programs every day. Cookies and juice were served, but I had to run to soccer practice.
It is strange, because, just about the time I think nothing new will happen here, I am proven wrong. One of the best parts of the school event, was actually being permitted into the school. Previously I have never been past the Director’s office. I saw so many boys and girls, participating in a variety of sports; basketball, high jump, volleyball and soccer. I saw the Teachers’ break room and some class rooms. The same week, I actually made it inside two classrooms of the elementary school as well. The gym-like room where the ceremony was held is where the dormitory boys eat their meals.
I was really happy because I have not seen these special events and feel much better about the recognition kids need to be motivated, that it is happening.