Yesterday was our last day of Arabic class with our beloved ustada (teacher), Hafida. For the majority of this class, we spent time reviewing all the tenses and conjugations we had learned in the past three weeks. We then took our imtihan (test), at the end of class. I was pleasantly surprised at how much Arabic I was able to learn in such a short time span and was very sad for the classes to end so soon.
Before these Arabic classes, I was very skeptical about how useful they would be. I had learned French since grade 5 and was still not fluent in the language, so I thought that 3 weeks would not be enough to retain any Arabic. After my first few classes with Hafida, my negative attitude started to change. I was having a lot of fun learning Arabic and found it to be a very beautiful language. What made the biggest difference for me was seeing how much the local Moroccans appreciate when foreigners try to speak their dialect of Arabic, Diriga. Whenever I entered a shop and said all the phrases I knew like –Salem, Le bas?, Hamdulilla, Beshel, Shukran, Bslama –the shop owners’ faces would light up. Then, these interactions would often lead to short Arabic lessons where they would try to teach me new words and we would laugh together at my attempts.
The inherent beauty of the language itself and the interactions I was able to have with such wonderful people through this language made me really appreciate Arabic and wish to continue learning it. I’m sad to see my classes come to an end, but am grateful for what I have learned. Shukran bezzaf cannot sufficiently express how thankful I am to Hafida for helping me learn such a beautiful language, and overcome my insecurities and reservations in order to do so. Although I won’t be able to practise my Diriga when I return to Canada, I know that whenever I come across a Moroccan, I will greet them with an excited Salem Waleiakum, and the slew of other phrases I will keep locked in my brain, all the while thanking Hafida from the bottom of my heart.