This blog is Copyright ©1995~2018 by Karl Denton

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bridging the culture gap with an iPad

Jamie and I had just finished 3 days in Fes, Morocco and it was time to catch the train back to Marrakech which was an 8.5 hour ride from Northern Morocco to the South.  Our train like most in Morocco was aged but comfortable.  Prior to the train ride to Fes several days earlier my first experience was one of the high speed rails in France in in November 2010 while other adventures Jamie and I had been on.  The trains in Morocco differed from France in newness but also in that it was custom if you brought food on the train with you you should share it with others around you.  In anticipation of that Jamie and I purchased purchased dried fruit, nuts, and several flavors of what can be best described as taffy.

Our train ride was scheduled to leave late in the day with our arrival back in Marrakech as late as midnight.  For the first several hours both Jamie and I tried to catch up on some much needed sleep.  On occasion waking to snack and have some water.  Anytime we traveled we tried to bring as little technology with us s we could so we would not be distracted on our journey.  This trip we took my iPhone (got to love the TomTom app.) and our iPads.  I had gotten both Jamie and my self an iPad as a Christmas gift to us.

My intent was to learn a bit of programming of iPad applications during “down time” but the few movies and a couple of games quickly took over.  One game called Angry Birds seemed to capture our attention more then most others so we took turns trying to advance through the endless levels.
At one of the many stops along the way a family got on the train and sat in the seats across and kiddie corner of the area where Jamie and I sat.  It appeared that the women and a young child sat in the 4 seats that faced each other and the men a few down from them. The youngster was very much like any in the US, playful, inquisitive and had an endless appetite.  She would in limited fashion play games with passengers around her receiving treats and small favors from what seemed to be complete strangers.  The gentleman sitting across from me was using his laptop to work on and all the while listening to music.  In a gesture to keep this little girl occupied he put his head phones on her so she could hear the music that he was listening to.   She would dance and try and sing the words she was listing to.  Western music it seems had made its way to this little girl as she knew who the artist was.
Seeing a small amount of frustration in my fellow passengers eyes as the girl continued to dominate his head phones and play with the keys on his computer I turned on my iPad and started an application called Penulimate that lets you draw on screen using your finger.  Jamie being bilingual and speaking perfect French told the youngster to look at some magic. I can’t tell you how important it was for Jamie to speak French in Morocco, as they speak two languages there Arabic and French.
When the youngster worked up enough courage to approach us, Jamie and I were the only two people in our car that were obviously not from the country, and it was with a great deal of hesitation that the youngster eventually approached.  I showed her what my finger could do on the iPad and she stood watching for several moments in awe.  Jamie Spoke French to her, reassuring her it was fine and after several looks back at her mother she finally warmed up to us enough to give it a try.  I held the iPad while she delighted in using her finger tip to draw squiggly lines and as she did I would change the color every now and then to her amazement.  After an hour of entertaining the entire car with her newfound artistic ability she would get board and move down a few seats and entertain someone else then come back to show us a new treat she had acquired. At one point Jamie opened up the bag of nuts and dried fruit we had purchased and as she and I ate a snack for our selves would share our bounty with the young girl.

When our train arrived in Marrakech everyone stood up to exit the train and as Jamie and I waited our turn we waved goodbye to our new found little friend while others surrounding us told us “welcome to Morocco, your new home.”  Jamie and I smiled at each other thinking the same thing... What a cool way to bridge cultures!

I’m not sure if the youngster will remember Jamie or I but she will remember magic drawing on an iPad every time she see’s one.
Below are the drawings that Jamie and I created while trying to entice her to use her own finger to draw and the drawings that she created.

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