A group of 10 students from Loyola Marymount, a professor, my mom and I went to Rabat, Morocco for two weeks. We studied Arabic every morning at the Moroccan Center for Arabic Studies, and would then do various workshops in the afternoons and interviews at night. The first week our group focused on women empowerment. We planned and led various workshops for women at a center on Hassan II. My group did the human knot, concentration, and follow the leader in order to show the importance of teamwork and to allow the women to have fun. We were able to lead these lessons with the help of our translators Ikhbal, Jihane, and Fatimzara. I had an absolutely amazing time with these women and bonding with them even though I did not speak their language. On our last day of the week, the women brought in a TON of food and traditional drinks. We danced and bonded with one another, then finally had to say goodbye.
The following week we worked with Sub-Saharan African Refugees at a foundation in Rabat. Everyday from 3-5 we planned workshops for the refugees who ranged from ages 14-21 that were more reflective. We learned a lot about their stories of war and reasons why they came to Morocco. Many of the young people we spoke with did not have any surviving immediate family and chose to flea to Morocco on their own without speaking Arabic. Many came from Cote D’Voire, Senegal, and Algeria. One woman (18) told me that her father could not give her and her education when they were young because he was preoccupied about feeding them. When he died, she and her sister came to Morocco in their ultimate goal to go to Europe for formal education.
It is incredible because it has been almost 2 years, and I know of one refugee, Ben, who made it successfully to Germany, which is one of the main countries where refugees dream of going to. Another refugee named Aniss has made it to Marrakesh where he is getting his masters in English.
This experience was absolutely incredible and one of the things that will stick with me most is the kindness of the Moroccan community members.