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.
AUA Summer Service Intern Haley Luce makes observations on her time in Morocco and how the experience will continue to impact her in the future.
Almost 2 months after returning home from my 6 weeks in Morocco, I feel that I am still digesting my experience. What I learned from the country, its people, and my fellow interns is hard to put into words because nothing seems to capture the true awe that these people and places inspired in me.
Many people have sad to me, “your pictures on Facebook look really cool, where were you?” I find it frustrating that I am unable to communicate the true value of my experience and the kindness that was shown to me by people who didn’t even know me to my friends, family, and schoolmates. I have slowly realized that perhaps it is okay that I can’t share exactly what my internship was like because nobody can really know that except for me. What I can do is share the idea that it is important for every person to be an unofficial ambassador and travel, having his or her own experiences with different cultures and peoples. The key to this is to have an open mind for all things: not just new foods and ways of dressing, but new approaches to life and interactions with people. I think that this is the message I wish to communicate the most to my friends, schoolmates, and community members. I want people to know of the greatness of humanity and I want them to go out and find it for themselves. Going out and connecting with other people and letting them show you how awesome it is to be a part of their world is something I hope everyone is able to experience at some point in their lives and maybe sharing the profound impact it had on me will encourage others to seek this experience out as well.
I want to be sure to thank our fabulous in country coordinator, Alice Barnsdale, for welcoming us into her country, her work, and her family. I am grateful for the support that the people at the University of Al Akhawayn, like Adel Kamene and the many coaches, and Tarmillat Village, like Ito, gave me and inspired me through challenges and always gave more than what was required. I am so thankful to have met so many wonderful children in Morocco who were the ones I worked with everyday and made my time in their country precious. Even though its pretty corny, I have to say that they will always be in my heart. Finally, it is important to me to thank my fellow interns. The 8 of us bonded through thick and thin and I think by the end of the summer we all accomplished some amazing things and I am proud to be friends with all of them. I am thankful for these young women who taught me more about what it means to be an aware, open-minded person. I am lucky to have had the opportunity to know them.
My internship with America’s Unofficial Ambassadors has been precious and one of the most defining experiences of my life to date. I hope I will be able to share my lessons and experiences from this summer for the rest of my life with as many people as possible.