Just like that, we are in our fourth and final week. This past month flew by for all of us and we certainly have many memories to share when we get back home! This month has been life-changing for all of us and we are all sad that the program is over. We have seen so much, learned so much, and made unbreakable connections with other students and peers. This month will never be forgotten and has definitely influenced every one of us in some kind of way. The Moroccan culture is so diverse and has a very lively history. From Berbers (or the Amazighs) to the French to the Arabs! Most people know 4 languages or more! It’s insane! Moroccans are smart, kind, generous, and very outgoing. You cannot find a shy Moroccan on the street, and that’s incredible. This is astonishing because the society where we come from only cares about two things: themselves and their bank accounts. Moroccans are completely the opposite. They are not selfish, and most definitely do not care about their bank accounts as much as we do. They care about tradition, family, kindness, and happiness. They want to live a happy life. Happy to a Moroccan does not mean the same as happy to most Americans. They don’t need a large mansion to be happy. They don’t need to drive a sports car to be happy or have a million in their bank. However, in the society where we come from people only care about making their bank accounts grow and grow and ignoring other traditions that are important.
We were placed in a home-stay for the month. Which I feel is a very essential way to fully grasp the Moroccan lifestyle. These people are the kindest, most outgoing, and the happiest people I have ever met. They tend to everything we ask for and do not leave us alone (which sometimes might get annoying, but they do it out of love!) Moroccans have four meals a day. Breakfast, lunch, tea time, and dinner. What I think is weird is the time of the tea time and dinner. In most families, such as mine, tea time was around 9:00 PM and dinner was 10:30 PM. Dinner is always a light meal, and not as heavy as lunch. Let me tell you something, Moroccans know how to cook! If our host families do not express their emotions through words, they most definitely express it through their food. For a Moroccan mom, cooking is her hobby. Not shopping, but cooking. Our home-stay families treated all of us like their own kids, and always tended to our every needs. If it weren’t for them, this month would’ve definitely not have been so pure and “Moroccan.”
The culture where I grew up in and was raised in was the Syrian culture. Very similar to the Moroccan culture. Nobody cares about money, about their houses and cars, but tradition. Importance is placed on family, religion, education and self-discipline and respect. Just like Morocco, Syrians tend to express their feelings through the food. And their dancing. We have the Samah, the Dabke, and the sword dance! Morocco doesn’t really use dancing, but expresses their arts through music! Some popular Moroccan artists are French Montana, Saad Lamjarrad, and many more. Moroccan music consists of Andalusian classical music, and chaabi music. But more recently western influence took the music industry by surprise and pop-genres are being more popular. Syrian music also consists of traditional, and pop. With also some western influence.
All in all, this past month has been life-changing. I don’t regret a minute of it and it is very sad to leave all this behind. I still remember when I was on the airplane, regretting even wanting to go on this trip. But the second I landed in Casablanca and saw the Moroccan culture for my own two eyes, I instantly knew that this trip was not a mistake. This experience was and will be the most memorable one. This is a peaceful, clean, and welcoming country for everybody. And in the end, we will always miss the days in the souk, bargaining for hours until our wallets are empty, the commute from our home-stays to the office,and at the end, our amazing program leaders and coordinators who were there for us from the first day.
Written by our Session one student, Mutasem Moussa