Happy Holidays! I am writing to tell you that I am back from Morocco! Morocco was amazing and the lessons I learned, countless. I know that Morocco changed my life. I have come to expect much more of myself. Indeed, Morocco taught me that I am capable of pushing myself to climb a mountain and of living in a nonwestern society that, upon my arrival, felt alien.
Moreover, the spirit of Morocco inspired me. Morocco is this small developing nation on the tip of Africa. And where just a few countries down there is genocide and war, in Morocco there exists the convergence of the three major religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, living in relative peace. Once a French colony, Morocco is a meeting point of Europe and Africa and as an Islamic nation it has strong ties with the Middle East. It is one of the only nations that combines a democratically elected parliament with an absolute Monarchy.
Yet, Morocco is struggling; there is poverty, illiteracy, and inequalities between classes, races, and gender. Yet, what I noticed most about Morocco is that it is striving for better. Laws once rigid are loosening. The people have more freedom and are using it to help their communities. Women have more rights than ever before, and education and literacy, while still low, are now national priorities. Morocco is a country that went from being an impoverished French colony in 1955 to finding its own spirit and path today. Whether it was planting trees in a Berber village in the High Atlas Mountains, or Volunteering at the Orphanage in Fez where we had our home stays, to attending lectures on development in a Saharan Oasis, I was inspired and humbled to have been able to witness this amazing change and growth firsthand.
This spirit is best illustrated in the case of my host mother. My host mother is an amazing woman. She is the mother of four children. She is a devoted wife and a devote Muslim who wears the head scarf when going out. She called me her American daughter and she cared for me as her own when I was sick. I would watch late night movies with her and practice my Arabic, feeling a rush of warmth every time she told me how great I was doing. And she has made an incredible difference in the lives of over 500 women. My host mother is the head of a sewing school in Fez, a traditional city where it would be unusual for a relatively wealthy devout Muslim mother to work, let alone head a business. In her school, my host mother teaches Moroccan women ages 15 and up sewing and craft skills that they can use to support their families and most importantly, themselves. Most of these women never finished high school. My host mother supports them and takes up their cases with the local government. She even opened a shop where her graduates could sell their creations. I have seen the boutique. It is beautiful and it brought tears to my eyes because it represents the realization of my host mother’s dreams.
My host mother inspired me. The difference that she made in those women’s lives inspired me. It is the same thing that I saw as I traveled around Morocco, from the Sahara to the High Atlas and I want to thank you all so much for all of your prayers and support that made those experiences possible. Thank you, sincerely and from the bottom of my heart. I am so excited to go to India and apply what I learned in Morocco about truly living life and being a service to others.
P.S. Morockers Forever!