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.
Hallie Westlund is volunteering as a camp counselor in Ifrane, Morocco.
I am a list maker. Throughout my entire life I have been adding to an ever-expanding list of personal goals. Some of my goals are simple, such as learning how to juggle, whereas my other aspirations are significant and consequential, such as making a difference in the world.
A much younger version of me listed as one of my aspirations: “playing soccer with children in another country.” At that time, I was motivated by the “cool factor” of traveling combined with an obsession with soccer at that point in my life. Ironically, as part of my AUA experience, I will assist with running camps for children, including a soccer camp. Although I will be realizing one of those early aspirations on my list, my motivations for going to Morocco are thoughts that my younger mind would never have been able to fathom. My goals are to experience something I have never before experienced, where I can give of myself to the Moroccan people, and to learn about and then share with my home community all the fascinating richness of this Moroccan community.
I want to learn all that I can about Morocco and about the Muslim world so that I can do my part, no matter how small, in bringing a mutually shared appreciation between the people of the United States and the Muslim world. Learning about the culture of peoples from around the world, including people of different religions, is extremely important to being an active and educated global citizen and also contributes to our ability to understand each other and to create global peace. So as I prepare for my departure, I have collected many pairs of soccer cleats to share with the Moroccan children. And, I am reflecting on the fact that soccer, or futbol as it is called in much of the world, is a universal sport that easily breaks geographic, political, cultural, and religious barriers.
Soccer cleats I have collected for the Moroccan children’s soccer camp.