Friday, September 14, 2012

The Tunisia I know

These are the memories of Tunisia that I have - the white-washed buildings with blue doors and bougainvillea. Wandering the ancient medinas of Tunis, Sousse, and elsewhere. The clear blue skies and Mediterranean Sea. Its amazing history, as evidenced in spectacular Roman and Byzantine mosaics, coliseums, and aqueducts. Freshly harvested olives and dates. The pit dwellings of Matmata and the vast desert south. Its people, welcoming and warm, graciously serving sweet tea topped with pine nuts. While the majority of Tunisians call themselves Muslim, a much more moderate version was practiced - sometimes more tradition than anything. It was a country that had banned the burqa, with many of its women choosing Western wear and showing off their thick black hair. A favorite vacation destination for French and other Europeans, freely able to relax on the beaches of resorts in their bikinis. A country that was site to many prominent films, often serving as a safe alternative for Middle Eastern country scenes. I remember when the school added extra security measures and even had us practice safety drills, but a bigger concern for members of the ACST community that year was flooding, which affected the school several times. During the two years I was at ACST, the school doubled in size, much of it due to the African Development Bank moving its headquarters from Abidjan (Cote d'Ivoire) to Tunis to have a stable place for operating.

Ten years later, I am sitting in my apartment thousands of miles away in Seoul, Korea. The Tunisia I know looks very different from what just happened at the embassy and nearby school. From my experience, this sounds like the actions of a few radicals, representing a minority or perhaps even led on by outsiders. I pray for the safety of all my friends that still are in Tunisia and that peace, stability, and normalcy will soon return. 

These are two of my artworks, the top being an oil pastel of a scene in Sidi Bou Saïd and the lower one a color pencil drawing of a man in the medina in Sousse.

1 comment:

Renuka said...