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In Morocco I…


In Morocco I lived in the mountains, the desert, and by the sea. I was welcomed into two families who fed me tajine, couscous, tea, and bread. I learned about the history of this country, about colonialism, religion, and culture. I made new friends and learned how to function in a group.


In Morocco I learned how to make Tajines and Moroccan flatbread. I learned about Moroccan clothes, from Djellabas to Hijab. I learned how to tell a healthy chicken from a sick one, and in what order to pour tea for a family of 11. I learned about religion and history, politics and philosophy, but most importantly, I learned how to question myself and the world around me in a productive and meaningful way.


In Morocco I heard the cry of a brown bird on my window, and the sound of its tap on the window-glass to wake me up. In a bakery I learned how to make pastries (The trick is sugar and margarine and just the slightest hint of ash) and that you should use your bare hands for just about anything you’re cooking, that it makes things just a little bit tastier in the strangest of ways. I learned about the ways we talk without saying anything, and that there is indeed some sort of beautiful universal language. I learned about colonialism and feminism and how post-colonial isn’t anti-colonial. In Morocco I was reminded about the beauty of the world, and of the people in it – of the wind in the mountains and the smile whose cause we don’t understand, of all the soft and hard moments. In Morocco I learned about faith and how we all have it and that religion is a frame we use to explain that little piece of wonder and confusion and unsureness that we’ve all got, no matter how old or cynical we get.


I rode two camels. The second one was much more comfortable than the first. I gifted three young Moroccan children with a picture book that refers to the Arab world as “the Land of the Lotus Eaters”–at least they can’t read it. I regained access to curiosity and tolerance I hadn’t seen in myself in a while. I drank tea with a young bride the night before her wedding, and with two nomads and a kid (human) and some kids (goat) in a cave. I’ve been renamed mm-mm-non-ma-fils, and Teetreet, and Jamillah, and Chuya, and Tuyah. I’ve formed brief and passionate friendships with a number of dogs and cats, as well as one of the camels. The nicer one (the less comfortable, though). I learned that cedar is hard and juniper is not difficult, and both pair well with off-brand oreos. I’ve had a lot of conversations I didn’t understand and heard a lot of laughter that I did. I saw birch trees that reminded me of home, mountains that reminded me of Middle Earth, and a desert that reminded me of God.


In Morocco I met a lot of amazing people. I was welcomed into two families, and cried as I left both. I got lost in Fez and Marrakech and Azlag, each time making it home safely thanks to the kindness of strangers. I stayed up late playing card games and woke up early to watch the sunrise. I learned to value stillness and silence, being alone and doing nothing.


In Morocco, I learned the value of living in the present, and not living my life in accordance to the tick of a watch.  I realized that being “on time” is a lot less important than we, Americans, make it out to be, and my propensity to take extra time to do things isn’t always a bad thing.  Secondly, I understand now that I have really high standards for everything; not just for myself, but for everything, and that sometimes, I just need to let things go. And lastly, I realized the importance of interpersonal relationships, and spontaneously inviting random people over for tea once in a while can be fun.  Who knows, it could bring a fun twist…..


In Morocco I got a healthy amount of sleep, a stark contrast from my usual nocturnal patterns. Believe it or not, this large amount of sleep actually felt really good and did wonders for my brain function!


In Morocco I trekked the High Atlas in the pouring rain, I lived with families who spoke a different language and often overfed me, I had my first hospital visit, completed my first stool sample and overcame many of my picky eating habits (with the exception of olives). I learned to adapt and admire being uncomfortable. Routine is overrated.


As I leave Morocco, I want you to know…


As I leave Morocco, I want you to know that I am extremely grateful that you supported me and sent me here. You should also know that although I spent 3 months here, I cannot make statements about all of Morocco, but I am looking forward to telling you about my personal experiences!


As I leave Morocco, I want you to know that I cannot in any way state the sum of my experiences in a few short sentences or paragraphs. But I can tell you that it fundamentally changed my outlook on myself, and to a lesser extent, the world.


As I leave Morocco, I want you to know I have found just a little bit more of myself, stepped a little further along that long, winding road of life. What this step will be and the direction it has set me in I cannot really say – only that I know that I have moved forward. There is no phrase or brief paragraph with which I can do justice to my experience.


As I leave Morocco I want you to know how much this semester has meant to me. I’m so grateful for friends I’ve made here, Moroccan and American, the landscapes I’ve see, and the experiences I’ve had. I’m grateful for my family and friends at home, and can’t wait to see them.


As I leave Morocco, I want you to know that I love you, I can’t wait to see you, and I want you to know that even if I don’t know where I’m going after this, I do know more (and better) than I did before. Thank you so much for this opportunity. I made friends that I’ll dearly, dearly miss, but in five days I’ll have a phone again, so…


As I leave Morocco, I want you to know that always looking forward isn’t always a good thing, because it means that we ignore the present and miss out on the things that are good now.  I love you all, and I can’t wait to come home, but we need to make more time for each other, and cherish what little time we have left together, because I’ll be gone before you know it.


As I leave Morocco I want you to know Islam is a religion of peace and watermelons shouldn’t be grown in the desert.


As I leave Morocco I want you to know that the seven other members of this group have inspired me, each in their own individual ways, to be a better person. I now have the confidence to enter college next semester prepared.