Greetings from the bustling city of Marrakesh, Morocco which is the amazing city that I have been able to call home over the past two months, and will continue to live in for several more. It is hard for me to think that I have only been here in Morocco for two and a half months, as I feel like I have been here for much, much longer than that. I am able to navigate Marrakesh through the many forms of public transport available, and know it better than I know the city I grew up in. On the average day I speak no English, as at work I speak only French and at home I speak a mix of French and Arabic, and I can arrive to a large number of villages outside of Marrakesh and have people who I thought I had never seen before come and great me by name.
I really love every aspect of my life here, no matter how frustrating it can be at times. I am living with my amazing Moroccan family, I do not like to put the word “host” before it anymore as I think of them as my actual parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins and they think the same of me. This is the first time my family, or my extended family has hosted anyone, Moroccan or not, which has led to many special bonds being formed. I have three siblings: my eldest brother works, and my other brother and younger sister are in University, and all live at home. I really do enjoy their company, and after days at work which can sometimes be quite stressful I always look forward to returning home and spending time with them.
I honestly could not imagine a placement here that is a more perfect fit for me. I wear business attire every day and work in the office of a Moroccan-U.S NGO in the center of Marrakesh. The exact work that I do here is quite hard to pin down, as I do many jobs here and love all of them. Some of the work I have done so far includes writing many grant applications to send to both to the Moroccan and foreign governments and translating them in between English and French, going into the field to examine foundation projects ranging from tree nurseries, to toilet construction, to women cooperatives and checking their progress, to researching the ongoing renovation of the ancient Jewish quarters of several cites, to developing a partnership with the International School in Marrakesh and many other things in-between. One of my favorite parts about this job, is that now that my Arabic is at a conversational level I am able to help conduct community meetings in villages in many regions surrounding Marrakesh about what can be done to improve the standard of living in their communities. This can be difficult at times as even though Marrakesh is quite developed many communities just hours from this sprawling city suffer from extreme poverty and its side effects.
I often work on the weekends in some form or another, or am exhausted from the prior week and want to catch up on rest, but I have been able to take a few side trips for pleasure. I’ve gotten lost in the chaotic streets of Casablanca, visited the Moroccan parliament in Rabat, and crossed the straits of Gibraltar to Spain from Tangier in the north of the country. I also went to a weeding with my family in a village an hour from the city, and spend lots of time with the amazing group of friends I have here.
I am enjoying every second of my time here in Morocco, and am learning from every joy, challenge, and moment of confusion that it presents to me.