Archive for December, 2010

B’sslama Morocco…Willkommen in Deutschland

December 21st, 2010

So, I have officially left Morocco and am currently sitting on my bed at my uncle’s house in Germany.  It was an emotional last few days in the Maghreb.  Everyone was busy taking final exams and writing final papers.  I know I was.  I spent all weekend studying for four finals and writing two term papers.  I’ve never had this much fun ever.  I’m totally kidding.  It was a pretty tough way to spend the last week in an amazing country.  I wanted to be out and about in the city, not stuck in my room writing a paper.  Well, all my finals went well, my Arabic professor brought us cake and tea, which was delicious!  I got all my term papers written and turned in on time l’humdullah, and I got all my shopping and gift buying finished.  On Thursday, our last day, we spent the morning in a re-integration seminar.  A bunch of us did presentations about various topics.  The only two boys that were in our group gave a power point presentation that documented our semester pictorially and reflectively.  Myself and the three other girls that interned at Transparency Maroc presented about our work at the organization, and the advanced Arabic students gave a presentation about Morocco, in Arabic.  I could understand a portion of what they were saying, which made me happy.  🙂

That afternoon we were bused to Agdal to do some glass painting and oriental dancing.  It was really really fun.  We painted little tea-lite holders and learned a nice little oriental dance routine.  The teacher even had little scarves that we could tie around our wastes like real dancers.  It was fun seeing all the girls get dressed up.  Afterward it was time to go relax and chill out before our farewell dinner.  Everyone showed up at the farewell dinner dressed to the nines…at least, as dressed up as we could be with a limited wardrobe selection.  It was emotional.  It’s hard to write about it, I’m not sure I can accurately describe the mix of emotions that was running through every-one’s hearts.  All 19 of us had been through so many trials and tribulations together.  We got each other through some pretty tough situations, whether it was dealing with culture shock and homesickness, to actual miserable illnesses that involved hospital visits and powdery medication.  We also were there during all the wonderful, amazing things as well.  We were all together at the top of a mountain in the Mid-Atlas and rode for two hours in the Sahara desert on camel back.  We went to Spain together, and walked to class together, and ate couscous at each others houses.  We became different people together.  I think that we’re all more open-minded and flexible because of our experience.  I’m sure each person’s experience was different, but I think that one thing we will have in common is that we’ll be able to all relate to each others stories and experiences as we undergo re-integration into American culture.

The last week of IES Rabat was an emotional one.  The biggest topic of conversation seemed to be what people were going to do when they got back state-side.  “What are you going to do the minute you get off the plane?” “What food are you most looking forward to eating?” “Who are you most anxious to see when you get back?”  Questions like these were frequently discussed amongst us while we were supposed to be studying for finals.  While those were certainly questions that are fun to discuss, I was hesitant, because I did not fly immediately to the United States.  I’m spending Christmas with my uncle and his family in Stuttgart, Germany and then will be traveling around Europe for a few weeks before returning to the States.  I tried not to think about “home” too much because I knew that “home” for me was still three weeks away.  Although I’m super excited and grateful to have this opportunity to do some traveling around Europe, it was really hard to hear my friends talk about going home when I knew I would have to wait a few more weeks before I could talk to my dad face to face or hug my mom.

All that emotional stuff aside, my traveling day went pretty smoothly.  My luggage was miraculously underweight, I got to the airport in time to discover my flight would be leaving at 6:50am and not 7:50am, which ended up being better because I was on the same flight with some of my friends from the program.  We separated at the airport in Paris where my flight to Frankfurt was only delayed 30 minutes.  I got to Frankfurt and ran to the train station, getting there just in time for my train, only to learn that my train from Frankfurt to Stuttgart would be delayed 50 minutes.  That train ride went smoothly after that, all my breakable stuff that I had in my luggage all remained in one piece, l’humdullah!  I arrived in Stuttgart without suffering any major setback or hassle.  Some of my friends weren’t so lucky.  I had a friend who left Rabat a full 24 hours before I did and as of 7pm last night (Monday) hadn’t managed to leave the Paris airport because of various delays and scheduling and other nonsense.

All throughout my stay in Morocco I was never so sick it required a hospital visit (l’humdullah), but since I’ve been in Germany, I have been at the hospital every single day.  I guess I was bitten by a bug in Morocco, and it got all swollen and infected when I was traveling, so the next day my uncle took me to a German ER to get it looked at.  They lanced the infection to drain all the gross stuff out, packed the small hole with gauze and wrapped up my leg and told me not to walk on it.  I’ve been back every day since then to get the dressing changed.  They told me it looks good.  I still cannot get over the fact that I have a small hole in my leg.  Today they didn’t repack the hole, they just put a bandage and ointment on it and sent me home.  I have to go back tomorrow to get it looked at, and that should be the last time, hopefully.  So it’s been an interesting experience so far.  Willkommen in Deutschland right?

Help Help I’ve only got one more week in the Maghreb!!

December 11th, 2010

So, as you can see from the title, I’ve only got one more week to spend in Morocco.  I’m sort of depressed about it actually.  I just started to really settle in, I can communicate much more with my family, I’ve got a routine down.  The constant packing and moving every 3-4 months in college really irks me.  I’m the kind of person that doesn’t mind settling down and staying in one place.  I always feel this way around exam period in school.  First of all you’re feeling a little bit of stress because you have exams and final papers due, obviously, but you also know that right after you finish your exams and papers you have to pack up and travel back home for several weeks.  It’s exhausting!  It’s definitely my least favorite part of school.  I’m really feeling anxious now to because although I’m ready for school to be over, I’m not ready to leave Morocco, and I know that I’m going to spend my last week in the country doing a lot of studying.  I’d rather do some sight seeing.  There are still many places in the country that I haven’t seen.  I guess if I’m going to be optimistic about it, I could say that I’m “saving” Marrakech, Essouira, and Casablanca for when I come back to Morocco.  You know what, I’ll keep thinking along those lines.  I like that plan.  When I come back to Morocco I will make sure to get to Marrakech, Essouira, Casablanca, and Tetouan.

So, my week has been super quiet.  By quiet I mean that I really did nothing but write papers and go to school.  I’m definitely not referring to the noise level of the city because there seems to be quite a lot of little boys with exploding fire crackers in the streets this past week.  I swear I have no idea how these kids got fire crackers, sparklers, and other small explosives that you usually only see in the United States around Independence Day.  I’ve literally jumped high in the air several times in the medina from fire crackers exploding at very close quarters.  Every time there’s usually a group of giggling boys who think that scaring “western tourists” (ie: me) is just about the funniest thing in the world.  It’s interesting, I’ve been in Morocco for 3.5 months now and guys on the street still yell “Welcome to Morocco” at me when I walk past.  If only they knew.

Oh, cool thing happened this week with my internship.  Actually, last week was the last week of my internship, but at least it ended on a high note!  My last project was related to the Right of Access to Information, and this weekend, Transparency Maroc is hosting an international debate/conference/work shop on this topic.  What I did was I  researched and read  A LOT of Freedom of Information laws from countries all around the world.  I was looking for things in the law that were really unique or very strong.  I wrote a report on my findings and condensed that report into a chart that I translated into French.  Hopefully, maybe, my chart will be used as a handout at the workshop.  It would be super cool.  I got to attend part of the conference yesterday.  There were speakers there from UNESCO the Dutch Embassy, and even an Canadian expert on Freedom of Information and writing Freedom of Information laws.  It was pretty interesting, and super “legit” as we college students say.  It was at the Hotel Tour Hassan, which is a super posh hotel and they had excellent coffee, which is obviously the most important part (just kidding).  There were also translators there and you could get headphones if you couldn’t understand French.  Fortunately, I was able to understand most of what everyone was talking about, and the Canadian presented in English, so that was great.  It was a pretty good day.  Next week I’ll go into the offices for a thank you tea, and then go back to studying for my exam.   Actually, that’s something I should be doing now.  I need to get this 10 page term paper on Body Image and Beauty turned into my Gender Studies professor by Tuesday!  Wish me luck!

Calligraphy Lessons

December 2nd, 2010

So, I have to tell you that this week has been pretty quiet.  Nothing really remarkable has happened, people are just now realizing that they have term papers due and are working feverishly to get those done, including myself.  So today I was just focused on getting through classes.  Arabic went by smoothly this morning.  We’re learning about the weather.  I got the Arabic homework done during my break.  One point for being proactive!  In the afternoon I had my gender studies class where we learned about female political empowerment and youth subculture.  It was actually a very interesting class. I was introduced to Moroccan hip hop; we listened to songs by one group called Fnaire.  Their songs have political and social messages.  This one is called “Don’t Touch My Country” (English translation) (ماتقيش بلادي) and it is speaking out against terrorism.

So, after classes were over we had the choice to stay for a calligraphy demonstration.  I enjoy doing calligraphy at home, and so I thought that learning how to do Arabic calligraphy would be very cool.  It turns out that the person doing the demonstration was Mohamed Qarmad, one of the best Arabic calligraphers in the Muslim world!  (See Mr. Qarmad at work) It was so exciting!  There were only five of us who were there for the demonstration, so he wrote our names in calligraphy on a piece of paper for us, in several different fonts.  He even made a design that we could take to a jewelers and get set in a gold pendant! 🙂  He did this all for free too.  I can’t believe I just got free artwork from one of the best calligraphers in the Muslim world.  I am definitely taking this paper home and framing it!

This is my name in Arabic, written in several different fonts