On our return from Fez, our group was running late and arrived back at home late in the evening. Mahisha and I thought, surely our host parents would have already eaten dinner by the time we arrived. However, when we came home, our parents had not eaten because they wanted to wait for us to return. They said that they didn’t want to start dinner without the rest of the family. I felt terrible, as I had assumed the norms of my own family where we tend to eat whenever it is convenient for us individually, which often results in us eating separately.
This made me realize the differences in how my host family and my family in Canada view the act of eating dinner. In my home in Canada, dinner is simply routine, or a necessary task. Since everyone is so busy, it is a rare occasion for all of us to eat together. Even when we do, we all eat dinner really quickly and disperse to tend to our individual tasks. On the other hand, it seems as though dinner is more than just a time to eat for my host family. From their efforts to patiently try and make conversation with us through our broken French and Arabic, it is clear that dinner is a very important time for them to catch up with the entire family. Whenever I sit down for dinner, I find myself at the table for a really long time, even after I finish eating. We would talk about anything and everything, and when we’ve exhausted all conversation topics, we just sit and enjoy each other’s company.
Compared to life here in Morocco, I realize that my life in Canada is on fast forward mode. Since everyone is so overworked in my family, this important act of eating dinner together and catching up with one another has been lost. I really enjoy that in Morocco, family members put each other first and make sure to enjoy each other’s company at every opportunity. Even though I know my host parents are extremely busy with their respective jobs, I admire how they make the time to visit their extended families at least once a week and talk to them every day through the phone. In Canada, I always trick myself into thinking I’m too busy to do these things. I’m always on the go and don’t make a lot of effort to catch up with my family members, let alone my extended family members. However, observing how much my host parents value family has really changed my perspective. I always knew in theory how important it is to put family first, but seeing it in action has made me recognize the joy that results in doing so. Seeing how close my host parents are with their own family has made me miss mine and want to make greater efforts to spend more time with them. This realization, I will take with me to Canada, and it is one that I hope will turn into actions to bring my family closer together.