Reflections on Semester in MoroccoRabat, Spring 2010
In November, I created a list of my academic goals, anticipated challenges, and expectations for personal growth for my four months in Rabat. I enclosed the list in an envelope and gave it to the director of my campus study abroad office. Near the midway point of the semester, I received the letter in the mail. Reading over the list, I am satisfied with my accomplishments. As would be anticipated with ‘study’ abroad, I have learned by living in Morocco, engaging in course work, and participating in an internship. Interacting with my host family, friends, and the host culture have facilitated the greatest growth.
Living with a host family allowed me to improve my French, develop basic conversational Darija, enjoy Moroccan cuisine, and learn about Moroccan culture. I will stay in touch with my host families in Rabat and Fez. My Moroccan host mothers fervently remind me to bring my future, currently nonexistent, spouse and children to stay in the comfort of their home during my next visit, inchallah. I know that I will always be marhaben (welcome) in the homes of my beloved Moroccan families.
Among my academic courses, Gender and Society in North Africa and Beyond has made the greatest impact on me. The course was predominately focused on the scholarship of feminist Muslim scholars. The scholars we studied challenge patriarchal interpretations of the Koran and seek women’s liberation through the study and reinterpretation of religious texts by women. The content instructed in this course contrasted with my previous studies of Western feminist movements which predominantly seek liberation through the rejection of religion, a system deemed to be innately patriarchal and oppressive. I am eager to incorporate the knowledge I gained in Morocco into my studies in the U.S. next year.
Managing Communication in Arab Organizations: A Case Study of Morocco helped deepen my understanding of the differences in the business cultures of Arab, Africa, and Western organizations. My experience interning at l’Association Démocratique des Femmes du Maroc (ADFM) helped illustrate the concepts and theories that we studied in class. By translating documents from French into English, I was able to enhance my French proficiency and become more familiar with the women’s activism of the ADFM. Based on my experience, I am more aware of the inner workings of small NGOs and feel more adept to work with international organizations like the ADFM in my future career.
It is impossible to communicate everything I learned about Morocco, myself, the world, and my place within it within the confines of this 500 word blog post. I hope that these three examples serve as a mere introduction to the wealth of knowledge and skills I accumulated throughout the semester. It is certainly not inclusive.
I will continue processing the experience throughout the upcoming months. Readjustment back to the United States will be challenging. I will miss Morocco. Despite the physical distance, the understandings I developed will remain with me. If fostered correctly, they will continue to grow and flourish.
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