Molly Wendell-Pearson is a recently graduated high school student from Portland, Maine.
Two weeks ago, I went to a soccer game with my host family, which was the first soccer/sports game I've been to in person. This game was the Women's African Cup Semi-Final game against Nigeria and it was the first time that Morocco qualified for the African Cup.
The experience was very memorable because I had never been to a huge sports game like that, and because I got to go with my extended host family. It was also really cool to experience the energy in the stadium because it was so packed with people and to get to witness such an important game. I also met members of my extended host family, like my brother's fiance's cousin Yussef, who is my age and speaks English. Everyone was really welcoming and friendly, and Yussef kept explaining all of the rules of soccer and what was happening during the game to me, so I felt very included and like I was able to participate in the excitement even though I'm not Moroccan. My family also packed sandwiches and a huge bottle of coke, and when we were eating and drinking during the break they passed out cups of coca cola to the little kids sitting in front of us, who they also talked to throughout the game. I remember watching that and thinking it was such a cute moment, and it made me think of how things like that are one of the differences between here and the individualism of the U.S.
The game was also very loud and chaotic, especially after the game had ended and everybody was leaving. Another thing that stands out in my memory is that as we were leaving and trying to keep track of each other in the chaos, all of my host cousins were surrounding me and linking arms to protect me from the crowd. Overall it's just a very positive memory, and it made me feel a very strong sense of community and family here that I feel is pretty different from the culture in the U.S.