One week after arriving, Morocco has been everything but what I had expected it to be. Due to the veil of stereotypes that Western society has created about Africa and Islamic culture, I anticipated an under-developed country resided by judgemental citizens. I have found this to be anything but true; amenities are plentiful, the houses are built to keep cool without the use of AC, and the people are incredibly friendly and welcoming. In fact, upon arrival to our home-stay family in Hassan we were told that “our home is your home” and that we could call our host parents “maman” and “baba”.
Amongst many interesting and new experiences that have occurred over the past week, one that was particularly memorable was when Kelly, Lily and I went to a bingo fundraiser hosted by the Lions Club Foundation in order to raise money for underprivileged children with Trisomy 21. The fundraiser was held at a school and the majority of people who also attended were between the ages of 5 and 16, and to our delight some of them spoke English. Because of this we were not only able to play bingo, but also able to learn a lot about the lifestyle of the Moroccan youth. One thing I found interesting was that the youth did not follow the same standards of dress that most Moroccans follow; some girls were wearing shorts, torn jeans, and crop-tops, and some boys were wearing tank tops, t-shirts, and shorts.
Over all, the night was very exciting and we won Moroccan jam, olive oil, and a doll that was donated to the fundraiser from a large collection. We were able to practice our minimal arabic knowledge, and due to our host family only speaking French and Arabic, I have also been able to practice my long lost knowledge of French! This week has been a great start to what is going to be a great month, and I can’t wait to share more exciting stories about our adventures in Maroc!