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.
The following is a post by AUA Service Intern Maddy Becker written upon her return from Morocco working in the town of Tarmilaat.
“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” Ernest Hemingway
It has been a little over a month since I left Morocco, just over six weeks, in fact. I look back at what I accomplished while I was there and I am very proud not only of the work that I did in the field, but of the complete experience. If you have had the opportunity to travel or to work alongside people from a different culture, you know. You know that the experience cannot be compared to anything else, and while you intend to listen to and help others, you realize that you (to a greater degree than you might like to first admit) actually also learn about and help yourself. I will always treasure the time I spent in Morocco.
When people ask me about my summer I am simultaneously gratified and overwhelmed. How do I describe the way my students became a model which I strived to imitate? Or put into words the bond of trust and sisterhood I formed with the seven other AUA volunteers? Or how homesick I am for a place that is an ocean away from my home? I want to say all these things but it is hard. It is difficult for me to fit six weeks of my life into a single conversation. I am dying to tell you about seeing the way my students’ faces lit up as they swam in a pool for the first time in their lives. I want to talk about how a couple of 8-year-old girls schooled me in the art of traditional Moroccan dance or how proud I was of my fellow volunteer who taught the women of Tarmilaat to do basic math so that they could develop their weaving business. I want to be able to describe the layout of the ftour meal, and the rewards of fasting and breaking fast during Ramadan (an amazing experience even for non-Muslims). My experience in the Muslim World was something I would never take back and has made me eager to search out ways to return.
My best advice to you is that when you ask me how my summer was, please, make some time to sit down, listen and ask lots of questions. It is the Moroccan way. If you give me only a minute to respond you will get an incomplete answer. I encourage you to do that with every traveler you encounter; you can let them tell you that they had a good time or that the experience changed their lives, but most importantly, you give yourself the opportunity to let their experience change your life as well.