Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Why I Joined Peace Corps

My bestie Sarah is visiting me in a few less than two weeks!  We’ve been friends since a very important discussion about Harry Potter during PE in 9th grade and we went to university together, but we’ve been a bit flung to the wind post graduation.  Three years ago, she visited me in Korea.  (I fell in a lotus pond.)  Two years ago, we met up in China and went to Xi’an to see the Terracotta Army.  Last year, I went to Costa Rica to see her, and this year, we’re spending three weeks in Morocco and Spain.  We might only see each other about once a year, but damn, those visits are epic!

Yesterday, I was over at my host family’s house for tea and to hang out with my host sisters for a few hours.  We had a long rambling conversation, starting with problems with the Moroccan education system.  One of the things I love about my host family is that they never treat me like I’m an idiot just because my Arabic is terrible and they take the time to have actual conversations with me.  So we talked about rural education issues and then the conversation swung to politics. 

Then, my host sister Hanan asked me why Europeans and Americans dislike Muslims and women wearing hijab.

Oh boy.

“It’s because they don’t understand Islam,” I said.  “They only see it on TV and they don’t understand.”

“Did you understand before you came to Morocco?” she asked.

“No,” I told her, truthfully.  “I understood a little, but not a lot.  Not like I understand now.”

“You only knew what you read on the Internet and saw on TV.”

“So I only knew a little.”

Another host sister, Olayya, chimed in.  “All countries are the same.  There are bad people and good people in every country.”

“Yes!” I agreed.

“We didn’t know Americas before you came,” she went on.  “We only knew what we saw on TV, but now we know you and you’re like us.  And we know your mom.  And she’s like us.  And people should come and visit you, so they will understand that we’re all the same.”

And then she whispered to me about the boy she likes while I tried not to be overcome by all the feels.

Those are goals two and three of the Peace Corps, tied up neatly with a bow and severed with mint tea, so I guess I’m doing pretty good here.

I told Sarah about the conversation when I got home that evening.

Sarah: You need to put that in your VRF.
me: I’m putting it in my BLOG!

(And to top it all off, the entire conversation was held in Arabic!  Also, for the first time I actually understood my two year old host niece when she told me my cup of tea was hot and be careful, although that probably has more to do with her developing fine-motor skills and articulation and not my Arabic improving.)


  1. I really need to make a trip there. Next year! In the meantime, I'll look forward to a post on your epic adventures with Sarah! :)

  2. Yeeeessss. Come to Morocco!

    Hey, did you meet ever meet Sarah? She came to an SnB when she was visiting, but I can't remember if you were there.