Confessions of a Traveler

One of the biggest privileges while staying at Rabat was living abroad in Morocco as part of a member of the homestay family. On one hand I was nervous about travelling to a new country, on the other hand, was this particular aspect that made me really anxious. Living as a guest, I was able to understand and immerse myself in their culture and daily lifestyle. As it came to the day to meet my new homestay parents I was informed that I would be rooming with Erin. I was glad that I would be staying with someone who, very much like me, was as equally as nervous for this. As we were introduced to our homestay parents, I started to feel comfortable. My homestay parents were very welcoming as we got to their house and that instantly made me satisfied. My homestay mother had shown Erin and me photos of previous students who stayed in their house for a couple of months. As she talked about them, you can see the adoration she had towards these students. This made me realize that there was nothing to be afraid of rather that is experience would be a memorable one. Living in Rabat with my homestay family was definitely different.

Although everyone in the house was amazing and caring, I was able to see the establishment of the gender roles within the family sphere. I started to enjoy my stay as I started to call my homestay parents Lala and Sidi. In my residence, the mother was a retired French teacher who took on the role of a housewife. She took care of the food preparation, house chores and taking care of family members. My homestay father worked at the bank so most of his time was well spent at the bank. As Erin and I would come home we noticed the gender barriers prevalent in the house. As our homestay father would come back from work, he would leave his shoes and bags at the front entrance. Once he enters the house, our homestay mum would quickly run to the entrance of the house and pick up his stuff and tidy the entrance. As she would prepare for dinner, the rest of the family would clear up the table. When we are all seated to eat, my host mother would place the food for her husband and son. Once she finished plating the food for them she would eat the leftovers. Once either Sidi or Hoya (my host brother) would finish their meal, she would stop eating and take away their dishes. She would come back with tea and serve us. Little by little every day I realized how repetitive she was that made this her routine and permanently embed in her mind.

As this gender imbalance is evident within the private sphere of the home, there are some apparent in the public sphere as well. For example, when Erin and I left the house to take a taxi to school, we would pass by cafés every morning. Along the cafés, there are men sitting down sipping their morning Moroccan tea. As we pass by these men, they were watching our every move, where I had this feeling that I was being monitored. As I pass by these cafes I notice not many women sitting with these men. In rare occasions, there were times when some wives joined their husbands at the café. However, these little things I saw made me uncomfortable with what I was wearing and I would unintentionally modify my behaviour to be hidden. Growing up in a modernized society, I forget how the social order can be easily influenced by sexism. Sexism is evidently prevalent today and I can personally say it will never disappear.

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