During the summer of 2015, for the first time in the history of New Oasis International Education, students were able to participate in the Annual Summer Activities Contest.
The New Oasis Summer Activity Contest was designed to engage high school students to participate in quality summer activities in any field of interest to them. Students were encouraged to participate as individuals, or as a team.
Throughout the next several days, we will announce the winners.
2nd prize ($2000): Rena Gao’s “Morocco: The Colorful Nation”
When Ravenscroft School student, Rena Gao, visited Morocco this past summer, she was immediately struck by the colors throughout the streets.
Gao spent her summer in Rabat, in a specific area known as “Old Medina.” Medina consists of countless, intertwining, narrow streets with walls painted in bright colors.
Gao submitted an essay, which she divided into five colors, each depicting an aspect of Moroccan culture she found interesting.
In her own words, here are the colors Gao chose, and an excerpt of her essay for each:
“When I first arrived in my host family who lived in a typical well-constructed riad in the middle of the maze-like Medina, they were having a funeral for my host sister, Sarah’s uncle. The living room was full of people sitting on sofas and the whole house was filled with different pitches of talking.
Overwhelmed by the crowd, who were all dressed in an unfamiliar style and speaking an unfamiliar language, I chose to hide in my room unpacking. Soon, there was knocking on the door followed by an influx of girls of different ages, looking shy but eager…”
“…Musique! Musique! Musique!” They chanted after discovering the lists of songs on my phone. Therefore we started to dance. All the timidity ten minutes ago vanished and transformed into unique dance moves and lightened-up eyes. They hugged me and combed my hair as if we were family who had known each other for years. And yes we are family at first sight.”
Black to White (Religion):
“Islam is the most popular religion in the country. Most of the women wear Muslim headscarves in public. Nowadays, all the news stories involving Islam only report the terrible deeds of Islamic terrorist
groups. I, as well as many people who know little about this religion, tended to view people in traditional Islamic clothes and head scarves as dangerous, but ignorance leads to incorrect suspicions. No matter how tolerant we think of ourselves, the one-sided media has heightened the presence of a negative stereotype toward Islam. I was scared when I first walked into my host family where al of the women wore head scarves. However, many of these “scary” women came up and greeted me ‘salam alaykum,’ which means “peace upon you…”
“…I have only grasped a little of this complicated and fascinating religion, but my understanding of it has gone from complete ignorant “black” to a clearer “white.”
“Red represents energy, passion and love. Do you know how and what Moroccans eat?
At my first meal there, I saw, in total surprise and horror, that my host family all used their hands to grab food from the same container. Uncomfortable and doubtful as I was with the idea of handling my food with my hands, I was too hungry to resist the gourmet on the table. That was when I fell in love with the Moroccan way of eating. Because we all ate from the same dish, we had to sit closer to each other and the intimacy among people naturally increased. The thrill of eating increased drastically when there were no middle-men such as forks, spoons or chopsticks standing in the way between you and food…”
“Yellow represents happiness, joy and cheerfulness. Moroccan people are the warmest and most welcoming ones I have ever encountered. Their way of greeting people is two kisses on the cheeks and a big hug, even if you have just met…”
“…If I smile at strangers on the street, they would smile back and sometimes even wittily blink at me. When I struggle with the shoe-keeper to figure out the price, someone nearby would kindly lend a hand to explain to me in English or French…”
“Before my expedition to this magical country, I thought Morooco and Manoc were the same thing. Now when I think of Morocco, I remember the colorful streets, my enthusiastic host family, the religion, their unique food, and the nice, welcoming people. This northern African country is no longer just a irregular shape on the globe, it has captured my eyes, tongue and soul. I revisit this homey place all the time in my dream. It has been calling me to come back.”