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.
Caiti Goodman is serving as an Unofficial Ambassador this summer in Morocco. Caiti has been in Morocco for the last three weeks, serving as a communications and eco-tourism intern at the National Park in Ifrane. Below is a post she submitted ahead of her June arrival in-country. Look for more posts about Caiti’s work at the park in the coming days.
It was 67 years ago when a Jewish soldier from New York and a Jewish Austrian beauty met in Tangier, Morocco and fell hopelessly in love. I’m sure everyone knows what comes next…they marry, they move to New York, they have children, their children have children, and they become grandparents, and that’s where I come in. It all started with Morocco.
In 2010, I visited the bustling market-filled city of Marrakesh. I ate food made up of animal body parts I never even knew could become food, drank sweet mint tea, saw buildings of architectural grandeur and basked in the Moroccan sun. I also didn’t forget to ride a camel, but I’m pretty sure my experience was not as pleasant as most people had described it to me. Apart from my apparent fear of this giant creature as I held on for dear life, the camel was decrepit, at best, and managed to spew out liquids from all orifices of its body on route. It’s a story that now makes me laugh and definitely pushes me to try again.
This four-day trip was just good enough to give me a taste of the culture that is so dense and so rich with history. Ever since I have wanted to go back and not only wade through the culture and history of the country, maybe ride a cleaner camel, but also take a closer look at my family history.
In the next six weeks I will be able to do just that, which my work with eco-tourism will only enhance. On the one hand I will be a tourist; observing my surroundings, participating in Moroccan activities, buying typical Moroccan things, and so on. On the other hand I will be working to observe tourism; to participate in and mark the activities for tourists; and more importantly get to know and collaborate with the community. In addition eco-tourism will help me not only get to know the community, but will also help me get to know the landscape. I’m most excited to hear what Moroccans think of their own country aside from politics and the economy. Do they see the beauty in the landscape and density in culture that I saw three years ago or that my grandparents saw when they first met?
I think it’s hard to truly reflect on this upcoming trip and say what specifically I am looking forward to or what I hope to gain. Other than my work, which needs to be slightly more planned out, I’m looking forward to experiencing everything I can in six weeks, from cleaner camel rides, hiking in Ifrane, to seeing where my grandparents first met. What I hope to gain the most is leaving Morocco with an excitement to return and to see and do more.