Blogger: Aja Sanneh
hola a todos! i'm halfway through my abroad program in granada. we just got back from a 5 day trip to morocco.
we went to gibraltar, assilah, rabat, chefchaouen, the rif mountains, and tangier. we stayed a few nights with great host families, ate too much couscous and wonderfully spiced lamb, honey and bread, and learned a whole two words in the moroccan dialect of arabic--"thank you" and "i'm full"
i was raised in a muslim, northwest african home, so i didn't feel the same culture shock my peers did. that said, one of the things that shocked me the most was not morocco, her people or customs--it was my classmates.
a classmate boasted, "at my college in the states, we wear the scarf thing once a year to really feel how muslim women feel and live their lives for a day" (the scarf thing=a hijab, or headscarf).
another american woman we casually met in rabat asked me, "what is it like being subservient to men in the private and public spheres of your life" (odd given that i come from a long line of matriarchs)?
needless to say, i was confronted with all types of ignorance and insensitivity. but that made me even more grateful for my education and environment at oxy. very few students saw a problem with the many stereotypes we brought with us, but it was always the oxy students who raised questions and offered complex comments on issues.
at oxy, it is no shock that wearing an article of clothing doesn't grant an internal sentiment, and being a woman in islam doesn't inherently mean subservience. that's because we are open to dialogue and other voices. learning and processing the nuances and complexities is a difficult task, but it's something oxy excels at, and one of the things i miss most while abroad.
other than that, my trip to morocco was beautiful and amazing. the landscape was lush and green. the shore was peaceful. the street art told stories of the youth. the medina was crowded at night with families shopping and socializing. the call to prayer was beautiful and comforting. it went by too quickly.
-bathed in a public bath called a hammam -ran around in ancient ruins -hiked to a mountain village and helped prepare lunch with a terrific family -had coffee with young moroccan students -visited two ngo's that began and are sustained internally -went gift shopping in chefchaouen where everyone spoke fluent spanish -came back across a hauntingly familiar boarder and returned from morocco to spain via ferry.