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.
2014 Unofficial Ambassador in Morocco, Caitie Dailey, is back from her service and sent us this blog post about her final weeks in her host country.
I think I can speak for most of the interns here when I say that one of the most challenging things we have all done together is observing Ramadan.
For those unfamiliar with Ramadan, it is roughly a month long period where practicers of Islam fast for a majority of the day and receive a small window of time at night to eat and drink. The purpose of this practice- I hesitate to call it a holiday because as Americans, we associate holidays with gifts, decorations, etc.- is self reflection, community reflection, and generosity.
This pillar of Islam reminds all Muslims of the struggles of the poor, and seeks to remind that even in this world of plenty, many continue to suffer.
Iftar (breaking the fast) happens when the sun goes down, and I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to break fast with a variety of different people. Some seems to gorge themselves full of food and tea until they are sufficiently full and wait a few ours for dinner, while others choose to take the simpler and self controlled path of just a single date and some juice or milk for their Iftar.
Regardless of the grandeur or simplicity of the Iftar, breaking the fast is a time for people to come together and reconnect after a long hard day, bonding over shared experience and enjoying all that they have to be thankful for.
3 weeks ago I was teaching the kids of Tarmilaat to play kickball and baseball, painting a mural on the side of their school, and soaking up as much Moroccan culture as possible. Now, back in the states, it shard to believe that my time there went so quickly and I had to say goodbye to my munchkins. My time in Ifrane was split between the Atlas Camp, the AUI Soccer camp, and working at the Tarmilaat School, three different posts with the common goal of getting kids involved and interested in culture, sports, and education. Ms. Fatima, Adil Kamane, and my fellow interns Pheobe and Andradene are all responsible for running these programs, and each of them made my experience that much more special for myself, but more importantly, for the kids. In both the AUI Soccer Camp and Tarmilaat I worked with the dame group of girls, girls that were so eager and ready to learn anything and everything. They came into the soccer camp with minimal French speaking skills, but after 2 weeks they could hold a conversation and follow directions in French (something that pleasantly surprised Pheobe and Andradene). At some point during my time in Morocco someone described my campers as “sponges,” soaking up as much as they can in the short time that we were there. Thats probably the most fitting description because up until the day we left Tarmilaat they continued to ask questions and learn new things. Many of them counted so well in French that I taught them to count in English!
Saying goodbye to our Tarmilaat babies was a bit emotional, but I know that we (more so Pheobe and Andradene) established a deep interest in education, in language skills, and (hopefully) set them up to have a bright future. These kids are so special and deserve the world, and I would give anything just to have more time with them and to teach them all that I know, because after all- they are our future.