Check out AllTheRooms.com/blogs to see other posts about Morocco. This one about the Moroccan flag is particular good https://www.alltherooms.com/blog/morocco-flag-cool-things-to-know/
Morocco is in Africa. You can look on a map and see that. Morocco is a nation of Muslims. You can look that up and see the statistics. Morocco has a French heritage. Just look at its history and you can see that. What is so interesting though is when you are actually in the country all of the previous ideas that one may have developed quickly dissipate.
In the Southern part of Morocco where I am located looks like Arizona. It has an arid feel but in March it is very green. My Moroccan colleague, Mohamed, tells me that in the summertime it is unbearably hot but now it is cool in the evening. Outside of the city of Guelmim, there are hot springs that I will be trying out this week but the area is very rocky, full of cactus, and full of mountains. However, on the way back there were low lying clouds that made the region look like Scotland complete with sheep. Then you go to the coast and see the beautiful Atlantic Ocean. Morocco is such a diverse place that amazes me everyday.
Moroccans are culturally tied to Islam and one can see the traditional dress throughout the country but that doesn't tell the entire story. The new generation of Moroccans have the option of dressing traditionally or dressing in a Western manner and most choose the latter option. Yes, you will hear a call to pray five times a day but not very many people actually do or if they do it is less than five minutes. Moroccans are respectful of other faiths and do not mind a conversation about the Christian faith and their own. I am appreciative of people who are grounded in their faith yet tolerant of others.
Finally, Morocco has many characteristics of France. Having visited a French market and a Moroccan market I can say that there are many similarities. You will hear French spoken in the market and when people do not understand you, everyone speaks money! I don't know if I would have chosen Morocco as destination before but I am sure glad that I am here. Morocco is truly a wonderful place.
Teachers for Global Classrooms have given me the opportunity to see a country I never thought I would see. Morocco has exceeded my expectations ten fold already and I have only been here for a week. What is surprising about that statement is when someone talks about seeing a country, they usually refer to the landmarks and tourist locations of the place one is visiting.
What has been the best part about Morocco is the people. Being about to go into schools and interact with students and teachers has been the experience that is the most memorable. Whether visiting a school in Rabat, a teacher academy in Casablanca, or an English class party in Guelmim, the students and teachers have been genuinely happy to interact and engage in conversation with me. Sure my American status helps with that eagerness but that is just the icebreaker. After that, kids are kids, teachers are teachers, people are people.
They have the same hopes and dreams as my students do. Teachers are wanting to do what is best for their kids. Moroccan teachers love their kids just like I do. Students are curious about my students just like my students are curious about them. They ask the same questions and inquiry the same way we all do. NOTE: If you are skeptical of that, check out my instagram at SGHistoryTeach and see the videos and responses. Students in Morocco are experts at Instagram and Snapchat just like my students and the Moroccan teachers are trying to integrate technology in meaningful ways just like I am.
Teacher training is serious business in Morocco just like it is in the United States. I have heard the pedagogy this week in Morocco more than I have in the last year in my own country. Teachers in this country are serious about becoming better educators and providing opportunities for their students and they do that all while earning the equivalent of around $900.00 USD a month which is woefully underpaid in a country where things are not that cheaper. Yet they are still committed to being great teachers and want to go better at their craft.
In the end, travel provides the opportunity to make connections. We learn about places and the history of the country but the real learning is from the people
Travel days are hard but the final destination makes it worth it.
There is no way around the rigors of a travel day. Leaving St. Louis with a 3 hour layover in Detroit followed by the flight to Paris was manageable but the last leg leaving Paris to Rabat was tough. The plane was full, it was hot, and I was tired. But once I arrived at the Rabat Airport, the wonders of travel gave me another gear and reminded me of why travel is so special.
Everything is so new yet so familiar. The currency, the Arabic, the people, the smells, the climate are new experiences for me. But the people are pretty much the same. They are in the airport coming and going. Taxis and transports are dropping off and picking people up. People are hugging new arrivals and waving goodbye to people departing just like we do back home. It was what makes travel so unique and so much the same.
After a quick shower and nap, I met my group and headed off to the banks of the Bou Regreg River to see the sights and grab some dinner. I love the unstructured times. Seeing the street vendors sell their wares is always fun. People are walking and enjoying the evening. Small children run and laugh, adults walk and laugh, and people interact like people do all over the world. Of course it is different because I AM IN AFRICA!
There is so much to see and do in the next two weeks. So many people to meet. The hardest part about travel is that you have to realize you can't see everything and there is a very real chance you will not ever go back to get a second chance. This is why travel is so special because the experience you have today will never happen again. The people you see will probably never been seen by you again. It's why I love to travel.