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Reflections from the Experiment in Morocco
On my last day as an Experimenter in Morocco I made sure to take in everything. The heavy smells of spices and oranges hung over the crowded streets of Rabat. The booming voices of vendors swarmed in my ears as I navigated the Medina. The sweet taste of mint tea still sat on my lips from breakfast. One last time, dissecting an unfamiliar language and weaving my way through identical winding streets. What once felt like a hectic routine, easy to get lost, now felt comfortable and safe. After four weeks of travel and immersion into many different aspects of Moroccan society, I had gained a newfound sense of independence and confidence that seemed to lead the way.
My mind wandered back to my homestay in a small, rural village called Aberdi. During my two week stay there was no electricity or running water. I went to the bathroom outside and lived amongst the family’s animals. I slept on the ground with my whole family in just one room. It was a simpler, more relaxed way of living which I grew to love. I would wake up to the sound of roosters without the worry of showers or what to wear. Instead, this time would be spent sipping tea and laughing with my host mother, or picking pears with my host brother. I learned to wander the long dirt roads that spanned across my village, feeling utterly safe and confident. Whether it was weaving with the local mothers, teaching English to the village children, or dancing Ahidous with the village fathers, I was constantly absorbing and learning.
A language gap that once seemed huge slowly closed between my host family and me. Through survival language lessons and miming, we shared many stories and laughs ranging from light topics, such as family and friends, to heavier ones comparing Moroccan and American clothing, religion, and marriage traditions. My host family opened my eyes to a different, yet valuable, way of living. They taught me acceptance, compassion, and empathy. The homestay reminded me never to judge the unfamiliar, and taught me to embrace those who are different, for they also have the most to teach.
As I left my homestay, after the two most rewarding weeks of my life, I sobbed. I could not imagine leaving the people I had grown to love but I was so grateful for the invaluable chance to meet and learn from them in the first place. And of course the learning did not stop there. Whether it was riding camels in the Sahara desert, exploring ancient Mosques, or learning to bargain, everyday my mind seemed to open and grow in a way I had never known before. Needless to say, on that last day navigating my way through the vibrant Rabat streets with all my senses being engaged, I was not the same person who had entered Morocco nearly four weeks previously; I had grown into so much more. I am so grateful to The Experiment [EIL] for giving me this opportunity that will forever be imprinted in my mind.
Jenna lives with her family in Cambridge, MA. She is currently a student at Concord Academy, where she is anA Better Chance Scholar.
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