It has been a week since we arrived in Morocco, but so much has happened since them that that day feels like a lifetime ago. Our first night in Morocco was spent at the hotel Oum Lil. We got to meet Abdellatif who treated us to a delicious traditional Moroccan dinner. The next morning bright and early we left the hotel for AMIDEATS for an introduction to where we would be living for the next three weeks. Joe, the country director for AMIDEAST, covered everything from street food to street harassment. The amount of information was initially overwhelming; don’t drink tap water from here, don’t eat food there, don’t wear headphones in public, don’t make eye contact with strangers, WATCH OUT FOR CARS!! I had anticipated there being many differences between Canada and Morocco, but it was finally sinking in how far away from home we were.
Next we received a large folder with all of the information on our roommates and host families with whom we would be living with. Jenn and I were paired together as roommates. In our host family there is our host Mom and host Dad, and two teenage children. The mother and father speak only Arabic and French, and the children speak Arabic and French and some English. As I have minimal French, I immediately felt relieved that I was living with Jenn who is fluent. While I am ultimately grateful to have Jenn there to help translate, it has been difficult to try to build a rapport or develop a relationship with my host family when the majority of conversation is directed around me. Additionally we have both had very little interaction with the father and son as they don’t eat breakfast or dinner with us. Even though everyone has been very nice, it has been hard not to feel a little out of place this past week.
However, the other night we were finishing up dinner and Dad came into the living room, put the TV on, and started flipping through the channels. The majority of shows are in Arabic or French so I can only pick out a little bit here and there, but he ended up putting on the soccer game which I was able to follow and enjoy even though it was in a different language. Jenn and I watched as we cleared the table, and then from the other room we heard dad say “vous aimez le football?” Oui we responded. “Venez ici” he said as he motioned for us to come sit with him. It was reassuring to know that despite being from completely different countries, and barely understanding each other, we still had something that connected us.