For my last weekend in Morocco, I participated in a family home stay, and it was one my favorite parts of the whole trip. The family I stayed with was absolutely wonderful, they were so generous, warm and welcoming. I fasted for the weekend so that I could fully experience what Ramadan is like in a more traditional setting, and the food that my host mom made was delicious. I was so full at the end of ftoor, and then she brought out bowls of harira and kept telling me to eat until I finished all of it. I think the place of food in Moroccan society is similar to that in America. Meals are something meant to be enjoyed, and good conversation is supposed to accompany it. In today’s hectic world with overflowing schedules and fast food, I think this is often forgotten in the US, although holidays seem to be an exception. Contrarily, it seems almost every meal is valued here, and especially so during Ramadan. I also helped the children retrieve water from a local spring, played checkers and other games with the children, and helped my host mom get fruits and vegetables at the souk. The souk looked very much like a farmers market, but the souk is a place for so much more than just buying food. It’s a very social place, where all of the men and women know each other, so they spend time talking to each other, haggling over prices and shopping; my host mom and I actually spent two hours there! Overall, the weekend was extremely relaxing and enjoyable, and I am so glad I pushed my nerves aside when I signed up for this weekend.
Since then, the past week has flown by. I’ve been busy studying for my final test, and preparing a final presentation and paper. My language skills have improved drastically during my time here, but this summer has been amazing for so many reasons besides what I learned academically. I now have a much deeper understanding of the culture here, and I’m also much more knowledgeable about Islam. I think this cultural understanding does not just include Moroccan and Arabic culture, but that I’ll be more culturally sensitive and open-minded no matter who I’m dealing with or where I go. I think I’ll also be more tolerant of tourists that I encounter in my hometown, especially if they don’t know English well, because I know now how extremely difficult it can be to accomplish something with a language barrier, and not for lack of trying or ignorance of the native language. I’ve spent more time here in Morocco than I have in any other foreign country, and because of that I think this country will hold a special place in my heart for a long time. At times, the cultural differences were frustrating, and the inability to communicate was difficult, but the experiences, friendships and memories I gained here will stick with me and influence my decisions for the rest of my life. As glad as I am to be leaving tomorrow to my friends and family, saying goodbye is already bittersweet.
Maa salaama, Morocco.