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SATURDAY, JUNE 2, 2007, 10:07 PM

Morocco – Later that day…

Afterwards, I visited Dar Al Taliba and Dar Al Fatat, two girls’ hostels, funded by the King Mohammed V Foundation for Solidarity- another of Morocco’s efforts to ensure equity and access to education for all.  For girls from rural areas whose family homes are far away from college, these boarding facilities are often the only way they can pursue their studies.  In Dar Al Taliba, I was touched that the girls had dressed up in traditional clothing from their regions.  They all looked different, and spoke with varying accents, but they had one thing in common: they were grateful for this chance to continue their studies, and they were determined to succeed.  When I asked if they missed their families, they said “Yes”, but that for now, in order to complete their education, it was a sacrifice worth making.  At this time, they told me, “We are each other’s families.”

 
I was especially fortunate to be visiting Fez, the cultural and spiritual capital of Morocco, during the 13th Annual World Sacred Musical Festival.  Bringing together musicians and revelers from all over the world in a truly multicultural celebration of song and dance, they perform together in a spirit of mutual respect and collaboration.  The opening night, under the stars in Bab El Makina, was truly magical.
 
The renowned opera diva, Barbara Hendricks, and her Swedish compatriot, Paula Hoffman, captivated the audience for 2 hours, and the Baroque Ensemble of Drottningham, who play on original Baroque instruments, mesmerized us all with dramatic, mellow and melancholy musical scores by turn.  Even the birds seemed to be twirling and pirouetting as the musical notes rose into the air.
 
The talent of the performers was matched only by the beauty of our surroundings.  Bathed in moonlight and creative floodlighting, Bab El Makina’s whitewashed walls and battlements glowed in warm fuscia and orange tones, illuminating the majestic Islamic archway and highlighting the ancient patterning.  I cannot imagine a more awe-inspiring setting. It was, without a doubt, one of the most memorable nights of my year.
 
Set to continue for several days, I was sorry not to be seeing more - not just of Fez and the festival, but of Morocco’s rich culture and heritage.  This brief visit has, once again, whetted my appetite for another one. 
 
I hope I have whetted yours.
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