Sunday, February 26, 2012


Our addiction to technology became the subject of many news articles, scientific forecasts, and target for technology innovators seeking millions of dollar in revenues. It is given, proven, and taken for granted that human's addiction to technology is, with no doubt, increasing over time. Tonight, sitting in front of my laptop's screen, with itchy eyes and burned out energy, I started wondering about how life will be today for people who choose to get disconnected from their cellphones, laptops, television screens, iPods, and their different social media sites.  I didn't have to look for the answer, because I experienced it and I can tell you that it is a strange yet a great feeling of time appreciation and freedom.
Tichka, Atlas Mountains

A couple of years ago, my family and I went on a trip to Tinzar, a small berber village located in the suburbs of the city of Ouarzazat in Morocco. I can still recall my excitement to visit the village where my grandfather came from, visit family members that I have heard of but never seen in the past. We drove many long hours, passing through the mountain of Tichka, famous in Morocco for its dangerous curves. When we arrived to the city of Ouarzazat, I felt reassured, thinking that we finally made it safe, until we were told that we have to park our car in the city and wait for a truck driver to drive us up the mountain to the village where we were staying. To my big surprise, he was the only driver with the ability and expertise to drive up the narrow curves of the mountain leading to Tinzar. The ride was full of excitement, the narrow curve could only take one car at a time, giving us the feeling that with a little wind we could have fallen down from the tall mountain. All I could think of the whole way was how in the world am I going to survive our departure and having to drive down the mountain.
Soon my fears were forgotten, and I began to enjoy the uniqueness of the village: people, their houses, their food, their simplicity, their generosity, and joie de vivre. It was incredible. But the most unique aspect of my trip was the disconnection from all technology that is enslaving us in the city. There was only one place that provides internet connection and it was an hour drive from where we were staying. Grocery stores and markets only opened once a week, there was only one house with TV and dish network in the village, and my phone signal was playing hide and seek with me during my entire time there. It took me a few days to get accustomed to the life-style and not to take a peak at my phone every 10 minutes checking if my phone signal has found its way to Tinzar. But soon, I started to enjoy the daily gathering of family and friends, long walks around the village to almond trees plantations, by the rivers and the beautiful water falls. I felt a strong connection to the people and to the environment around me, and the moon has never been any closer to my sight than in Tinzar. I spent a long time every night contemplating the moon and the light it reflected on the village, it was in fact the only light illuminating Tinzar after sunset.
 People seemed very healthy, motivated, and most importantly Happy! They weren't wealthy people, but they were rich with culture, with ambitions, with love, and with health. While there, I suddenly felt that every minute counted and that I had more time in my day to spend with my family, new friends, and with myself. Some of my relatives there had to walk 60-90 minutes to get to their schools everyday, when it snowed it took them even longer. However, they were very happy to be able to go to get an education and dream about a very bright future. 

Today, looking back at this trip and thinking of the stress-free mind that I had during my stay in Tinzar, I wish I could be disconnected from every piece of electronic device that is around me for some time. Perhaps, I should take on this challenge: No technology for a week... Just the thought of it makes me picture the many things I could do during the free time that this challenge would offer me. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Issues and Ideas (Whitewater TV)

Issues and Ideas

Maxim and I were invited to Whitewater TV to talk about our success as international students and about Peer2Connect. The show was hosted by Kirsten Kozik from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.