September 20, 2012

It’s a Messed-Up World

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Remember that last thing I said, about how you can control the extent of culture shock when traveling abroad? Scratch that. I have never felt so helpless in my life. I think it is culture shock, this incapability and powerlessness I’ve been feeling recently. Incapable of feeling comfortable or part of this place I’m now supposed to call home. No matter how much I can “blend in” physically, no matter how Moroccan I look to them, I try to fit in between the chaos and the habitual of their beautiful routines… and it’s just futile.

I may have forgotten it was Africa or I may have relied too much on the tourism industry, but Morocco is not anymore that quixotic relic of Arab empires and influential buildings that once embellished it and is still part of the memories, and only memories, of many. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a beautiful place; the whole world is. And I was not looking for luxury or commodity. For that, I would have chosen another place to study abroad. I really do find pleasure in doing missionary work and I think it’s one of the most gratifying things you can ever do. But seeing myself in the midst of poverty and knowing I only came to study, makes me feel even more uncomfortable and depressed.

I’m not going to try to introduce now some naïve theories about fixing the world and making it “a place where everyone can have everything and live happily ever after”. That, sadly, would be insincere. However, there is one thing I do have to argue: poverty is cruel and senseless. It is brutal and unnecessary. And some people may dare to say I don’t need to “argue” that because everyone hates poverty. But I am very positive that when you hate something you try to avoid it.

And if you hate poverty for yourself but not when it’s happening to others, then you do not hate poverty, you just like commodity. I may be a little too sensible but, after exploring the city of Fes before the start of the program, I found myself depressed, trying to understand how another human being — who has the same instincts and emotions as I do — has to beg in the streets for at least the equivalent of 0.12 US cents. I could barely eat that day.

After visiting Fes, I took the train back to Rabat and, gazing out the window, I started questioning my decision to study here in Rabat. Had it been a good choice at all? How will I be able to find happiness in here? I do appreciate “the little things in life” and I do not need much to be happy but I know injustice is something my mind has never learned to process. But, right afterwards, I looked a little bit higher in the sky and the moon was stunning. And you know what? It was the same moon. I saw it and it felt like home. It was the same moon with its same splendor, reminding me how connected we all are and how small this planet is.

I know that time will fly by and December 23 is just around the corner. And when that day comes, I will probably be typing on this same computer and with these same fingers, but the thoughts and ideas flowing from my mind will be the ones of a much more mature person. Hamdulillah. My advice? Change. Change all the time. Change home and lovers, ideas and feelings. Keep on changing all the time because nothing stinks more than stagnant water.

Original Author: Lorena Michelen