For most people who are familiar with Islam, they are aware that Ramadan is a holy month; that it consists of fasting from sunrise to sunset. However, Iftar is not simply the breaking of fast. It is also a time when friends and family can gather in celebration. On May 26th, current and previous HAF staff and volunteers did just that. As the room filled with people, joy and and a sense of unity simultaneously seemed to seep into every nook and cranny of the room. Gentle greetings passed between soon to be friends and old friends, and new volunteers were quickly welcomed and shown great affection by those they just met. I guess that can be expected when the president of our organization has beautifully passed on to each and every one of us the Moroccan values of cherishing all those who come into your life.
Before breaking fast, President Yossef Ben-Meir cleverly suggested that we play a game so that everyone could get acquainted. Others may have likened it to speed dating, but I think we would all agree that it was more like speed bonding. I learned about people’s majors, hobbies, times at HAF, and a few fun facts. My favorite experience of the night was talking to a previous volunteer who who learned to speak Korean, with its nuanced cultural expressions, only from watching Korean dramas. Just as Iftar began, Dr. Yossef and a previous intern shared a few words to show their appreciation for everybody in the room, and then we dug in. Dates were flying about, we dove into cups of juice, tore into pieces of “msemen” (a Moroccan pancake), and fought our way through much more Moroccan cuisine, wondering if our taste buds would survive the bombardment of flavour. Nonetheless, the room never ceased to resonate with laughter and radiate with enjoyment. Towards the end of the night, I took a moment to sit back and observe the room. I found myself amazed at the group of people in front of me. The HAF brought all of us together, new and old, in celebration of Ramadan, and the work that continues to be done for Morocco’s development. On May 26th, 2018, I laughed, I ate, and I made new friends. Most importantly, I became part of a new family, the High Atlas Foundation.