From the Amideast offices, we departed via taxi for the Moroccan Cultural Center, established to further Moroccan-U.S. trade and cultural exchange. Two men, one Moroccan and one American, addressed us and we were allowed to ask them questions as well. The whirlwind continued with a visit to the Moroccan embassy. They served us mint tea and Moroccan desserts, along with discussing the history of Morocco-U.S. relations, a partnership that the Moroccans we met are very proud of! We headed back to Amideast for a delicious lunch of Lebanese take-out and then made our way to the State Department!
After a few panic filled moments when I couldn't find my passport, I entered the State Department. I felt very cool and official with my visitor badge. Rick Ruth, Senior Advisor at the Bureau of Cultural and Education Affairs, spoke to us about the importance of our exchange and offered some words of wisdom. He has traveled to several YES Abroad countries and is a strong advocate for the YES Program. Following his speech, a panel with representatives of the Middle East, Eastern European, and Southeast Asian regions took our questions. The qualifications of these representatives were impeccable--many had advanced degrees from awesome universities! I asked for a description of how U.S.-Morocco relations are different from our relations to different countries in the region, and many of my peers had similar questions about politics. We then left the State Department and walked down to the Lincoln Memorial for picture taking!
Here is the Morocco group!
YES Abroad 13-14 minus Bosnia (they went in the morning to the Lincoln Memorial).
Our crazy day ended with a long bus trip back to Chevy Chase (D.C. traffic is insane). That night, our coordinator in the States announced our host families! The sheet she gave us had very basic information, but it made Morocco seem much more real. I have two sisters, one older and one my age, and a little brother!
The next day, we woke up just as early for a day of workshops. From 8 A.M. to 10:00 P.M., except for lunch, dinner, and the occasional break, we sat at our country tables and discussed our years abroad. Our sessions included information on Islam, Health and Safety, Digital Storytelling, and much more country specific information. We had the BEST alumni ever and she kept us laughing while sharing tons of stories and tips with us. The Morocco group got along so well and I really can't wait to see them all again!
Friday was goodbyes at the airport, which were sad because our class will never be together again as a whole. It was also exciting to say goodbye to the Morocco group, knowing that we'll be together again in 50-ish days!
Now I'm home and Morocco is much more real. To use a cliche, it's an emotional roller coaster. I am very, very excited, and very, very nervous. I'll let you know as the ride continues! Thanks for reading!