Inezgane, Morocco - I did not get much of a holiday after having hit the books for all that long period of utmost readiness that preceded that great national Baccalaureat exam in 1976.
Inezgane, Morocco – I did not get much of a holiday after having hit the books for all that long period of utmost readiness that preceded that great national Baccalaureat exam in 1976.
Almost after getting the diploma, I was soon getting busy this time round with administrative papers to get me a passport. Then I had to travel for the first time thousands of miles away from Morocco to the state of New Mexico to attend high school in the city of Albuquerque. I was fortunate to have stayed with an American host family that was very helpful and supportive.
Highland high school was not very far from where I lived, so I walked almost every school day to and from school. When talking of 1976-1977, one has to take into account that the US was very much advanced in plenty of scientific fields when compared to the greater majority of countries round the globe. Yet, students who were studying “computer” as a school subject back then had to make use of perforated papers to operate the computer. I am stating this for those who are now operating their machines with much ease and not even thinking of great efforts that made it possible for them to do so.
At the time, precursors of scientific evolution and futurologists such as Alvin Toffler were talking of “Future shock” and later of “The third wave”. I have read works by Toffler and have lived long enough to witness the accuracy of much of its forecasts. The civilization push-button we are witnessing nowadays was prepared way back early in the twentieth century. In 1976 use of some sort of internet for the wide public was unheard of although it might have been used at other higher governmental scientific spheres in the US.
The point I would like to make is that in the absence of such an instrumental technological tool, Americans were taking away the role of old Europe and considering the USA the center of the world and the rest of the world “satellites” that had to revolve round that powerful and influential center. With that perspective in mind, there was no urgent need for people in the U.S. to know about other countries other than their own. So, there you were telling Americans whose paths happened to cross yours that you were from MOROCCO and plenty of them would think you might have mispronounced it and would say, “You mean MONACO?” Others would say “are you from SOROCCO?”Apparently that was some weather forecasting locality in New Mexico. And there you would indulge in a long geography explanation about where Morocco is situated and so on.
What happened sometimes was that after having convinced your interlocutor in the field of geography, you end up getting another question, but this time the question is more related to history. They would ask “Are you from Spanish Morocco or French Morocco?” For me, who has spent countless sleepless nights drawing maps of the world while preparing the Baccalaureat, the question would yet mean another great effort to calmly and politely tell them that that is history and that modern day Morocco is one entity from Tangier to Lagouira and that the entity in question is called “The Kingdom of Morocco” or “Al Mamlaka Almaghribiya” in Arabic.
Another great challenge for me was when some school mate would open an Almanac and tell you, in a friendly manner of course, about American Nobel prize winners in different fields of science and technology, about American inventions and so on and challenge you to name one internationally acknowledged modern day Moroccan or Arab scientist or inventor. The Almanac produces, among other things, names of internationally renowned scientists and inventors regardless of their nationalities but unfortunately I could not see any of our own.
The Almanac most often gives outstanding facts and records in a particular year but that is just one piece of the greater history jigsaw puzzle. World civilization has never been made in just one year, decade or century, besides ages of nations cannot in anyway be compared to those of individuals. On another plane, civilization has always been a matter of give and take. Some nations have produced knowledge and technology for centuries but at some point in history ended up receiving and vice versa.
Arabs, Muslims and Moroccans have enormously contributed to world civilization in plenty of fields in the past and have added their own piece or contribution to the great jigsaw puzzle of civilization. The impact of Arab contribution to world civilization will continue to be felt everywhere if only we consider Arabic numbers. Who is ready to do away with them now or any time soon?
Almanac: Origin: 1350–1400; Middle English almenak < Medieval Latin almanach < Spanish Arabic al the + man?kh calendar.
Articles written by Mohamed El Hassan Abou El Fadel in Morocco World News are taken from his Cultural Journals. The articles feature his reflections on an important part of his educational and cultural experiences in the US as an American Field Service exchange student, a Fulbright exchange teacher and a University of Delaware alumnus.
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