Now I am sitting here at Sidi Rahal in an old blue camping chair, looking out over the grand blue-green Atlantic. One hundred-plus high school students gather clique by clique: fraternity, sorority. Some of us observe and some chat, but mostly we hang out because that’s what we do.
Safiyyah (Moroccan-American) approaches. She has been here at the school for only 3 years, but she has made a great adjustment to our special hybrid American- School-in-Morocco social style. I ask her if she can describe what it is that we (the students) do best. “Just hanging out” she says without hesitation.
Today I sit for the fifth time at Sidi Rahal. At least 30 of our students have their cameras, capturing the moments of the day for the annual Beach Day Photo Contest. The fifteen winners will have their photos displayed in the Multi Purpose Room later this year, and will enjoy a big Pizza Bash. Their work will be included in this year’s Yearbook.
The high school math teacher Mr. Smith and I compare notes on students as we lounge on the beach observing the procession below: soccer, American football, soccer, swimming and volleyball games engage the majority, while at least forty share in our favorite activity: “Hanging out.”
I see Paul walking and chatting with ….((( read in here Adam L)))
A group of students strolls past, shoulder to shoulder. Lina, Amalya, Nada, Nizar, Dakir, Medhi, Maisson, Ibrahim, Waleed, Hajouji, Sofia and Paul form a volleyball circle – no competition, just keep it going, hangin’ (white, pink, tan and almond skin in the sun.)
Later on, "FZ" sits with the dozen seniors as I approach “And so what’s the story of the day FZ?” “Today people are having fun - playing volleyball, swimming…. Everyone is interacting – no one is alone. For example, these two. (Referring to Amalya and Ghali , lying on towels next to hers) They are not alone. Only me, I’m alone .... talking with you - Oh, ha ha” (as she realizes what she just said).
Hamza, FZ , Amalya and a few others walk to the cafe. On the way I ask Hamza “what’s the story of the day?” “I haven’t discovered it yet”, he says.
We order Sprite, Lavazza and Sidi Ali , and park ourselves at the standing tables. The proprietor is playing "Only You (And You Alone)" from 1955 by the Platters. Leah (a new American student) lags behind. The color changes. It becomes more blue. We talk about (God’s calling?)for 5 minutes as she finishes her Sprite. And then walk back to the group on the beach.
In my first year I could barely care who was who or what they were doing. Today, I notice that most of the obnoxious, the entitled and the loud bunch has graduated or stayed home. The day is tranquil, soft, sweet; the light is clear. I know them, each one. Nearly all have been in my classes since middle school. It is a different time. There is less discipline required; there is sweetness present. It is less complicated.
It was noon when I noticed there were now only four playing volleyball. Everyone else was sitting on towels in informal “salons.” Everyone was again talking, listening. We were doing what we do best ...interacting, hangin’. Soon the freshmen would get to have their lunch.