• Mikaela Boelkins

Getting in a Groove

It has been over a week since I last updated my blog, and boy, oh boy has a lot happened. But for today, I'm going to keep things brief.

Only days after bartering in the Old Medina for a wooden camel with my name written on it, courtesy of a lovely shopkeeper, I received another souvenir: A peeling, bright red sunburn centered around my shoulders with a radius expanding down to my upper back and chest. Applying sunscreen is one thing, but reapplying it is an entirely different matter, and it's important to be vigilant about that! However, our trip to Bouznika, a beach just some miles east of Casablanca, was one of the best experiences I've had yet in Morocco. The sand at Bouznika may not have been as white and pure as the sand on Siesta Key, but it was beautifully fine and perfectly caramel-colored. The sun shone down in the midst of 75 degree weather in a sky clear and vast, with seemingly infinite blue. Swimming in the salty Atlantic Ocean water was lovely, even despite the slightly chilly water, but the peak of that day was hosting a mini dance party on the beach. There was a stage set up toward the back of the beach with massive speakers blasting Arab and French pop songs, so we decided dancing and having a good time was the way to go. And you better believe that I don't take "shaking my groove thang" lightly, because I unleashed the full catalog of Boelkins dance moves on that beach. But the epitome of my time dancing was when around 8-10 Moroccan children joined us on that stage to dance with us. The cross-cultural exchange of dance proved to be one of the most interesting things I've ever seen. These kids had so much control over the way they vigorously shook their upper bodies; I mean, the rhythm of the music, American or Moroccan, was essentially trapped inside each of them.

Our NSLI-Y group visited a home for foster children today, and we had a yet another exchange of dances. My group introduced the Macarena (which the Moroccan kids just ate up) and they mutually taught us one of their dances. Although my knowledge of the Moroccan Arabic dialect, Darija, is absolutely atrocious (multiple children asked me to repeat myself and I had to enunciate extra carefully), it was fascinating to partake in bridging the cultural gap through dance––that's right, U.S. State Department, doing my little part for people-to-people diplomacy.

To all those reading from back home or in other areas of the world, it's not necessary to learn a new language to participate in cultural exchange––just get out there, dance, and get a groove on.

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