Marrakesh- My third week in Morocco has come to an end and it is hard to put my experiences into words. Every morning I still find myself waking up and being surprised that I am actually here. I tried not to come to Morocco with any preconceived ideas of what it will be like, because the last thing I wanted was to be disappointed when things were not as I expected.
Nonetheless, the thoughts, worries, and expectations were there and persisted until I landed at the airport in Marrakesh. My first three weeks have been filled with teacher training classes, tourist activities, new friends, a lot of bread, and believe it or not, yoga classes. Lucky for me, my actual experiences have surpassed every expectation I could have imagined.
I came to Morocco, first and foremost, for English teacher training courses. I arrived to Marrakesh on Sunday and began my four-week course the next day. I knew the course would be demanding, but I had no idea that it would be so rewarding. I was shocked, and honestly very nervous, when I found out that we would begin teaching students the first week.
Despite my weariness, teaching these students everyday has been the highlight of my trip so far. It is refreshing to be around students who are so eager to learn and excited to come to class everyday. I always heard teachers say that some students make teaching easy and fun, but I was never able to fully grasp that idea until now.
For more teaching practice, I was invited to teach in a village outside of Marrakesh, called Tamesloht. I was told these high school students were a part of the US-run program, ACCESS. The students go to school Monday through Saturday and then come to the ACCESS English class on Sunday, their only day off. I had no idea what to expect because I knew if that was me, I would not be too excited to go to school on my only day off. I was, yet again, surprised by what I witnessed in class. The students had more energy, curiosity, and desire to learn than most of the students I went to University with.
Not only that, their English skills left me in amazement. Many of the students have only taken one English class a week for a year and their English capabilities put my four years of Arabic language studies to shame. The students’ passion to learn English in order to create a successful future for themselves is something we can all learn from. Education is taken for granted all around the world, but if everyone cherished the opportunity like the students I have met, there is no telling what positive changes could be made in the world.
Apart from teaching, I have grown so fond of Marrakesh, the food and the people I have met. Everyone I have come in contact with has been more than happy to help me find my way and finish my sentences that I start in Arabic but sometimes can’t finish because I get too confused.
The culture in Morocco is based on actual communication and connections between people. The full coffee shops of people chatting throughout the day and the sit down family meals every night are things I wake up looking forward to. The most obvious difference, for me, between Morocco and the US is the pace at which people live their lives. While one lifestyle is not superior to another, I have noticed a feeling of calmness since being here. The majority of Moroccans take the time to slow down and enjoy the company around them.
Like any extended trip to a different country, there are bound to be experiences you could do without, but what is important is that the good experiences outweigh the bad. I can confidently say that Morocco has already taught me so many things and I look forward to continuing to grow in a country that has so much to offer. By the time I leave, I hope I will have made a difference in at least one student’s life and tried every type of Tajine!
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