We work at the grassroots level throughout the Muslim World to counter violent extremism before it takes hold, to promote tolerance and understanding, and to foster better relations with the United States.
Tomorrow is the first day of summer. For me this usually means a time to relax, unwind, crack open a good book, and promptly forget everything I have learned at school over the past semester. But instead I am heading to Morocco for six weeks as an Unofficial Ambassador. I am not being commissioned by the government and I am not working at an embassy. However, my mission will include the perilous field work of dodging soccer balls at a camp for Moroccan youth. It will require complex coding and deciphering – teaching French to young students. It includes giving up lazy days at the beach for hours spent under the sweltering Moroccan sun helping the women of Tarmilaat build a bread oven to help feed their families.
But I am a willing volunteer, because the heart of my mission is great. I am a part of a group of other committed American students who are on similar missions across the globe this summer, determined to re-route the relationship between the Americans and the people of the Muslim World. And we plan to do it face-to-face, person-to-person. I am so grateful for the opportunity to travel, but am even more grateful for the opportunity to make an impact on the lives of some young students. Without exposure to the French language, it will be nearly impossible for the children of Tarmilaat to find a steady job, let alone attend secondary school. So, despite my imperfect French I am eager to get them reading, writing, and conversing with one another in basic French, with a hope that perhaps it may inspire my students and give them a chance at a life filled with opportunities beyond the bounds of their village.
When I think about the importance this will have on their lives I can forget my anxieties about being an ocean away from home and enjoy the beauty of the people and landscape here in Morocco…