Student Spotlight - Tom Kirkpatrick, First Hammam Experience
The Hammam is an important Moroccan weekly ritual during which Moroccans go to a public single-sex bathhouse not only for body and soul purification, but also for the community.
Entering the Hammam, you find yourself in a dry room where you get changed and leave your belongings with the attendant. The Hammam traditionally includes three rooms increasing in levels of heat. People often go to the hot room first to help open their pores before starting to scrub their bodies. The first step is to relax all while coating yourself in Moroccan black soap (sometimes Hennah is added to the mix.) Using a bucket that you previously filled to your preferred temperature, you wash the soap off and start the scrubbing. The scrubbing glove never fails to work its magic exfoliating and softening the skin. Throughout this experience, you’ll hear the echo of water filling buckets and washing bodies, chatter, and sometimes children’s laughter or crying as their parent washes them. Locals often go in pairs or groups and scrub each other’s backs. When alone, they pay the attendant to rub their backs for them. The attendants offer the service of doing all the Hammam steps for you, from applying the black soap, scrubbing, and washing hair, to giving a massage. The Hammam ritual can last from thirty minutes to three hours.
As part of their homestay integration activities, our students had an optional Hammam session during which they experienced first-hand one of Morocco’s most important rituals.
Here's a brilliant reflection on the Hammam experience written by Tom Kirkpatrick:
"If you have the opportunity to do something like this, definitely do it." Christine C., 16, and Mohamad H., 17, flew across the Atlantic this past summer to improve their Arabic language skills in the capital of Morocco. Here's how they describe their program.
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