Monday, September 8, 2008

frusteration

This has been a pretty reoccurring theme since the start of the program. We have been in the dark in all aspects. We found out about host families the day we were told we were moving into the houses. We find out about meetings five minutes before they start, we are finding out our class schedules this Wednesday…when school actually starts Thursday. We have no say in what is happening, and we are spoken to like lost children. Our questions are answered with vague long-winded rants that go in circles, and I’ve learned more about the program from the CIEE website, than from those who are running it. We are also stuck in a small building, and we found out this week, to our dismay, that we are not going to be in classes at the regular university, but still stuck in the small temporary building, only taking classes with the kids on our program. Half of the problems coming are from trying to correspond our classes and what not with the main university, so it seems dumb that they would try and separate us from the school when its painstakingly obvious the fact that we came to Morocco that we probably don’t want to just study with other Americans, we want to be with Moroccans. They have dubbed us trail blazers, because this is the first year with the program, but I’m pretty tired of sporting this title at the expense of my education and experience.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this attitude, and whether its justified, or I’m just being an ugly American, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it is relevant. My problem has nothing to do with the culture, it has to do with our program. I’m just upset with the inability for our program to deliver on promises, and it has become burdensome being so blind about something which I’ve paid to do. So yes, this frustration is justified, and I’m hoping it doesn’t continue as a theme throughout the education here in Morocco.
But luckily I’ve always been a firm believer in you create your on outlook, and as long as I can survive from 9-3 each day, life is great. I’m living with a host family, I spend each afternoon at the beach playing bocce ball or Frisbee, or even studying Arabic. At night, I have a massive Ramadan feast, and following, I go on walks through the city, taking in the atmosphere of Morocco. So maybe this is just life's way of balancing itself out. Though my day at school is relatively miserable, with barked orders, boiling classrooms, and edgy teachers who are fasting, it makes me so excited for 3 o’clock to role around, and city exploring, or beach dwelling to commence.

Saturday night: Right now we are still in the middle of the two week long intensive Arabic course before actual school begins, and since our school found it necessary to put a class in the morning on Saturday, Saturday evening was our only real weekend night. The girls on our program were no where to be found tonight, so the five guys went solo to walk around town.
Since its Ramadan, all the bars and nightclubs are closed until October (hence the upcoming weekend trip to spain!) so the happening places to go are cafes. The night started out pretty typical with guys talking about guy things. What did this guy think of that girl? Who is the cutest? Where did the parents go wrong with that one? All the typical conversations you could expect guys to have. I’ve been curious about one guy on the program, he’s a pretty staunch republican, foul mouthed, boarder line prejudice/racist, hard guy from Brooklyn. Seeing as this is his mantra, I’ve been really intrigued as to why, for one, he is in Morocco, two: why he is here for a year, and three: why he is studying Arabic? I took initiative tonight (much like I’ve had to do in classes to keep our teachers form just barking vocab at us for 5 hours a day) and asked him why Morocco. Like I thought, it was counter terrorism, but what was so interesting was hearing what events in his life has actually brought him to that point. He grew up in Brooklyn, he said his apartment has a view of ground zero, and before had a great view of the towers. His father had done service, he believes in American and its values, and his grandparents, who fled the Nazi’s, came to the US, lived the American dream, and made life much better for his family. He talked about his distaste for the war in Iraq, and how decent men are dead, and how noble war is gone. We no longer are fighting another Army, but we are fighting men disguised, using women and children as shields, and attacking us when our backs are turned. I definitely didn’t disagree with him in that view, which is interesting given our backgrounds and beliefs, but our difference wasn’t the result of these themes, it was the extent to which we believed in them, and how we thought we should act. Of course we all know that terrorism is real, and that there is a threat, but to him it is our countries greatest threat, and what we need to be doing is counter terrorism work, and to me, I just don’t see the same way. All five of us launched into a conversation (and I emphasized the word conversation) about current happenings in the world. We talked about terrorism, and how to stop it. When do we draw the line with where we put our funding, our troops, our talents. I threw in my two-cents about education and anti-poverty efforts being a huge weapon in the fight for terrorist organizations to be able to recruit. We talked about international aid, The US having to downsize life and subtitles if we ever wanted these problems to end, and to level the playing field. We talked about how simple drug trade on college campuses inevitably fuels crime on some level, and how even buying products whose crude materials come from other countries, also elongates the gap between everyone. We talked for hours, and though we didn’t come to any life-altering conclusions, I think this sort of dialogue and thought, is what will lead this next generation to massive positive change. We talked till around 11:30, then all laughed as we gathered our things to make it home by our host families curfews.
What I really liked about the conversation was the mutual respect of one another. We all gave and took a little bit, and acknowledge truth no matter whose side it came from. For me, the conversation really made me question what I want to do with life. For the last few years I’ve been tiptoeing with the idea of international work, but with the last few years I’ve also had my eyes opened by seeing both the positive and negative effects of international work. In our conversation, we talked about a girl on the program whose goal is to become a teacher, and work with impoverished kids who have been basically forgotten, and give them hope, and a chance at a brighter future. I guess what I’m getting at is where is help, talent, and passion most effective? Which level do these self-less workers need to be at? Is it more useful to be placed domestically, and work in one’s country, in hopes that their will work will inspire others, and lead to unification of nations later? Or should we focus on infra-structure and education abroad, in hopes to curb the problem of radical groups and poverty for this new generation, all the while creating positive sediment and bonds between the involved countries? I definitely don’t have the answer at this time, but my hope is that we do both, and one day both these paths will be able to meet in the middle.
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