Exactly three weeks left in Morocco. My plane tickets await in my inbox, and the hunt for the perfect gifts has begun. The end has loomed for the past few months, but I've mainly been thinking about the "happy to go, sad to leave" paradox that most exchange students are facing this time of year. However, on Monday I had to the privilege of visiting the U.S. embassy with the YES Abroad and NSLI-Y groups, and the end suddenly feels much closer.
At the embassy, we met with some embassy workers, members of a visiting delegation, and the ambassador himself, which was a cool look into the world of diplomacy. We spoke about our years and shared the moments that changed us and those that made us realize how much we have changed. In the next few months, there's a lot of conversations like these ahead. When we return home, we will inevitably be asked "how was Morocco?"
To everyone who asks "how was Morocco?" thank you. My response will depend on whose asking, but I'm so excited to respond. What a privilege it is to be asked this question--to know that there are people in my life who are curious to hear about what I've been doing for the past year, whether they are former teachers, neighbors, or close family and friends, and to be able to share even a small part of my story with them.
If I only have a few words, what do I want to tell people about Morocco?
I want to tell them that I feel incredibly lucky to have had an experience so multidimensional, I struggle to summarize it. Morocco was my home for the past 10 months, the backdrop to some great adventures and the most powerful classroom I have ever learned in. There were wonderful days, bad days, and flat out boring days. I awakened to the possibilities of myself and the world around me. And that's just the beginning of a conversation that could last for hours.
I suppose that's the hard part of the "how was Morocco?" question: time isn't infinite and neither are people's abilities to listen. Not every interaction will lead to heart to heart--that would get pretty tiring. I want to remember that, as I find it difficult to compose a response about an experience that changed MY life, I'm not the only one. The question "how was your year?" will slip out of my mouth, and my friends will have a pretty difficult time answering that too. Though my year was very different from that of my peers, they will want to share their trials and joys, just as I do.
At one point in our lives or another, we're all asked to find the one word that can summarize an event that has rocked our world for better or for worse. Perspective: As I sit here trying to answer the question "how was your year?" after having the opportunity to go on this adventure, someone is searching for the response to "how are you?" after losing a spouse or child. One of my goals is to remember that everyone in the world has a story to tell. I want to be a person who is okay with asking a few word sentence and getting a few hour answer, because we all need someone to sit by our side as we unload our observations on our lives. Through listening, we validate each other's joys and fears. In every day interactions, I'm going to try to be more conscious of the emotional baggage everyone is carrying. It's easy to forget the complexity of our lives until someone gains the courage to open up. I am seeking the type of community that welcomes and encourages these surprising conversations.