"People of Morocco" by Peri Kirkpatrick
When I decided to go to Morocco through AMIDEAST, I was worried about forming relationships with Moroccans. While I knew the language, I was worried that my lack of confidence speaking would create impassable barrier. Instead, I have found friendships through a series of unlikely events. This is a letter to thank a few of them for inspiring me and making this country feel like home.
First, to Professor Touria. As my Arabic and Darija teacher, Touria has renewed my passion for learning this difficult language. Through her genuine love for her students and teaching, I have felt myself improve tremendously due to her constant willingness to talk with me during office hours each week. Everyday I thank her for all she has done for me and my newfound confidence. I now feel like I can speak in Arabic at a level where I am not thinking about which word to say, but instead just saying it. (Unfortunately, I still take some time to work out the placement of words.)
Second, the Barber man from down the street. In Morocco, I am constantly worried about unwanted male attention due to the level of harassment that women experience daily. Meeting this man has been a breath of fresh air. He has always taken care of some of the stray cats that live in my neighborhood, L’Ocean. When Mama Cat had kittens, he began taking care of them as well. Everyday I stopped and looked at the kittens on my way to AMIDEAST, and as soon as he noticed, we began sharing pleasantries. Now, seeing him is a highlight of my day. After traveling for a weekend, I could always feel the mutual excitement when we got to greet each other again. He and his cats have become and integral part of my life here in Rabat and I will miss them dearly.
Third, Elizabeth from my internship. Elizabeth deserves a huge shout-out for all the work she does here in Morocco. However, I want to thank her for taking me in and really helping me create a home here. She has given me a little taste of the things I miss from the US, while also offering guidance to all of my questions surrounding Moroccan culture. I will never be able to thank her enough for the experiences she has provided me on my journey in the country and the help she’s given for my future. Tuesday afternoons don’t feel the same when I don’t make my way to her apartment to work and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to work alongside her on a cause so meaningful.
Fourth, my host sister and brother. Ines and Memone are a handful to say the least. From the constant crying to the ‘game’ of telling everyone if they are ‘hieb’ or ‘zwin’, I never thought that I would miss them as much as I already know I will. But, after the enjoyable games that we have played, Spiderman with Memone and jump rope with Ines, and singing Ed Sheeran songs on car rides back to Rabat, I know that these two will forever remain in my heart. They have offered me nothing but kindness here and accepted me into their home with open arms. I will gladly be Ines’ big ‘sister’ and will always help her with her English because she never complains about helping me with my Arabic. I love them both and will cherish the time I’ve had with them.