Morocco Greeted Me With Open Arms

Morocco Greeted Me With Open Arms

By April Rae Johnson, Warren Township High School, Class of 2016

Morocco greeted me with an open heart and I tried to do the same. From the moment that we touched down in Casablanca I was overwhelmed, but delighted to be surrounded by so many different people. We met with our in country host and we were off! It was complete immersion into an unknown culture and language, our language lessons were not called “survival” for no reason. Through our broken Arabic and French and Spanish and through their broken English, we were able to connect with the Moroccan people for the first time. We moved from Casablanca to Rabat to Marrakesh to Fes. 

In Fes we met the host family of one of our group leader’s from her study abroad before we met our families. It was a fantastic look into the connections that are forged in a homestay and how long they can last. We were greeted warmly with mint tea and candies, kissed and hugged by the grandmother, and regaled with stories of her time in that house.

 Here is a picture of us! I am the one on the front right with the backpack.

Then we went off into the mountains to meet our host families. I could not have been placed with a more loud, loving family. My eleven days with them was certainly the most difficult, both emotionally and physically, but it meant a lot to have had them. I made so many human connections that would have been impossible to make in a shorter amount of time.

Here is a picture of me and my brother Mrwan. He wouldn’t smile for the picture so I had to tickle him.

Not only did my time in Morocco teach me about those around me, it was also a fantastic time to reflect on myself. It was a unique thing to be plopped into a new country with other students I did not know. I had time to reflect on my place in a group dynamic, all of the students spent a lot of time together. I figured out a lot about myself, and the group allowed me a safe space to express myself. I found a lot of confidence among them that I lacked before, and I could never recreate the time I had with those amazing people.

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