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SILVER LINING

Hello all!

If you have been keeping up with the Yak board, I’m sure some of you will recognize my name and remember my aforementioned foot injury. An awkward landing on my right foot after coming down some stairs led me to the Azrou clinic, where I found out that fortunately, my foot was not broken. However, I was informed I would have to take it easy for an indefinite period of time. A few days later, crutch in tow, we decided that it would be best for me to stay for an extra 5 days in Azrou rather than trek. As bummed as I was to miss the beautiful views and hard work of the trek, I was excited to spend more time with Badr, my lovely host family, and the Azrou community.

My extra time in Azrou consisted mainly of Darija lessons and work on my Independent Study Project in the artisanal center, with a couple trips to a preschool squeezed in there. I learned an incredible amount in my five days! During the first part of my homestay, I had been observing the women who worked in traditional weaving. They showed me the ropes of carpet-making, from proper knotting techniques to lovingly bandaging my blisters. I was able to continue my work with them and witness the beginning of an entirely new project, which was fascinating and almost hypnotizing. I was able to try out a few more knotting styles (warranting more blisters) and interview Bouchra, who has been practicing this craft since adolescence. I was also able to speak with Youssef, who is an expert in working with stone.

One of the main highlights of my extra time in Azrou was my ability to strengthen relationships, some of which would have only begun to blossom, had I left Azrou for trek. I was able to shadow Casey, a Peace Corps volunteer and friend of Badr’s, in her trips to a preschool and a community development center. It was inspiring to get to know someone so passionate about the communities in which she lives. We laughed together as we tried to teach three year-olds the English alphabet; wrangling toddlers is even harder when you lack a common language.

I was so grateful to be able to spend extra time with my lovely host family as well. Afternoons spent eating Indomie noodles and watching Korean dramas with my sisters have joined the ranks as some of my happiest memories. I am infinitely thankful for Badr’s patience with my Darija pronunciation, sloppy crutch-walking, and bouts of anxiety and doubt. My time in Azrou allowed me to learn how to accept help (although my group members might beg to differ) and move a bit more slowly. It was a huge bummer to get injured, but I am genuinely grateful for the way this course has unfolded thus far. Feeling out of control is extremely frustrating, but the way this injury has increased my flexibility and patience has been an incredible blessing.

With love from me and my crutches,

Eliza.